Why Jeff Banister Is My AL Manager of The Year


Aug 9, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister speaks to the umpire from the dugout seconds before being ejected from the game during the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers hired Jeff Banister on October 17th, 2014, becoming the 18th full-time manager in club history. He faced a tough task, taking over a ball club that looked to be drifting away from arguably the best run in franchise history. The team was an uninspiring 67-95 during their 2014 campaign, and they didn’t make any off-season moves that made you believe they could turn it around.

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Rangers’ fans loved Ron Washington, his high energy and incredible sunflower seed eating ability made players and fans gravitate towards him, so it is easy to see why the Rangers faithful were so disappointed once he left. But, Jeff Banister and his calm but stern demeanor is exactly what the Rangers needed. This team has taken on his persona and the job he has done with the Rangers is nothing short of remarkable.

So I hear the haters already, “he isn’t even the best manager in Texas” they say. I think most will agree that A.J. Hinch and Jeff Banister are the two front-runner for AL Manager of the Year. Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch has done a phenomenal job with the Astros and while I do agree that he would be a very worthy candidate for the award, I still don’t believe he has done a better job than Banister.

First you have to take into account where the teams finished last year, with the Texas Rangers finishing dead last in the AL West at 67-95. The Houston Astros weren’t much better with a 70-92 record, but they were still better. Then you have to look at the off-season for both teams, with the Rangers biggest plus being a healthy Prince Fielder. The Astros on the other hand went out and got Evan Gattis who has been a veteran presence in the middle of that lineup, as well as some other moves that bolstered that lineup. In all actuality though, both teams stayed rather quiet this off-season, which is a testament to both managers for the turnarounds that both teams are having.

But for me there is one true separator between Hinch and Banister, a separator that no matter what I feel like you just can’t ignore (unless one absolutely collapses down the stretch). The bullpens that these two teams have in drastically different, with the Astros have a backend that they can rely on for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. The Rangers on the other hand, have a bullpen that is one of the worst in all of baseball, with their closer coming into the 2015 Neftali Feliz being DFA and now pitching for the Detroit Tigers. Now that isn’t a knock on Hinch what so ever, because he knows how to manage those guys back there and he knows how to get the most out of them. But for Banister to get the Rangers where they are now (just two games back of the WC) and fighting for a postseason spot, it’s truly remarkable. He has gotten every last bit of skill and potential out of his guys and he has proven that he undoubtedly was the right guy for the job.

What makes Banister’s job so spectacular can really be summed up in just a couple of statistics. When he started this job in April, the Rangers were 27th in the MLB in runs scored during his first month of managing. So far in August, they have jumped all the way to fifth in the MLB in runs. In April, the Rangers pitching staff had an ERA of 4.18 which ranked 20th in all of baseball. So far in the month of August, they rank 14th in the MLB with an ERA of 3.95. Those are improvements that can be found in both the hitting and the pitching, improvements that you can’t pin solely on Banister, but he certainly has a role in them.

The fact of the matter with the MLB is simple, it’s a pitching league now. You have strong pitching, you’ll win your fair share of games. So when you look at a Rangers ball club that is 26th in ERA and 28th in bullpen ERA, you wouldn’t think the Rangers would have a chance. But, Banister has instilled the confidence in his guys, they love his not too high, not too low attitude, and these guys have really taken on the idea of never ever quitting. Banister has gotten everything out of these guys as he possibly can, maneuvered around some crucial injuries early in the season, and now they have a chance to make the playoffs.

Both Hinch and Banister are incredibly worthy candidates for the AL Manager of the Year award, and I think they are both the clear front-runners. I think it will eventually come down to who ends the year with the better record, but I don’t find that to necessarily be fair. I think Banister has done more with much less and because of that, I think he should be AL Manager of the Year.

Next: Game Recap: Rangers Fall Flat In Detroit

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