Rangers: Banister Deserved AL Manager Of The Year


Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister is named American League Manager of the Year following a surprisingly successful campaign in 2015.

When Jeff Banister was hired as manager of the Texas Rangers in October of 2014, I had barely heard his name before. No, I don’t keep up with the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system too much. Based on the way things unfolded during the ’14 season, it just had the feel of a ‘give up’ decision by general manager Jon Daniels, a young executive that really never earned my respect until this season – yeah, I was pretty put off by the Nolan Ryan departure.

Once Ron Washington resigned about a month before Banister replaced him, there didn’t seem to be much direction or purpose within the Rangers organization. A team full of injuries throughout the disastrous ’14 campaign didn’t look anything like Texas predecessors that appeared in back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011, losing both. If Washington didn’t see the point in sticking around, why continue with expectations, right?

When staff ace Yu Darvish was lost before the season even started, there was absolutely no reason to expect that this team would end up playing well into the month of October and would also sit just a win away from the American League Championship Series for close to a week.

Banister may have started with a cupboard that seemed empty, but his mindset and focus, along with some big moves made by Daniels, pushed Texas right back into contention just a season after the club dropped 95 games in ’14.

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No, things aren’t nearly as bad for Banister as they might have seemed entering last season.

Yes, he is an immensely qualified manager who has spent most of his life in the game of baseball.

Banister is a one-hit wonder if there ever was one. In his only MLB at-bat back in 1991 against Dan Petry, Banister legged out an infield ground ball and that places the Rangers manager in some exclusive company. He’s one of only 15 hitters to get a base hit in his only at-bat in the big leagues.

In his only season as a manager in the majors, Banister might also seem like a one-hit wonder, of sorts.

Unlike his playing days, Banister will obviously get another crack at managing baseball at the game’s highest level. I think there might be plenty more ‘hits’ in Banister’s run as Rangers manager.

Banister is a student of sabermetrics, which is essentially the advanced study of baseball statistics. Because of this area of Banister’s approach, it really seemed like he was able to place his team in the best possible position to win ballgames once the team finally got enough talent on the field last season.

If Washington was known as having an aggressive approach on the base paths, Banister might also look similar but with a better feel for outcome based on the situation and opponent. Perhaps even the time of day matters to Banister.

Yes, talent was needed to turn this club around from the direction it was heading entering last season. The Rangers needed to know if designated hitter Prince Fielder was going to be able to continue supplying the power he’s known for. Additional and previous Texas hitters like Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli helped the Rangers turn the corner in August and September.

Obviously, the bullpen and rotation were bolstered tremendously with the trade for lefties Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman. Right-hander Sam Dyson was a key reliever brought in that paid immediate dividends down the stretch.

What more can be said of center fielder Delino DeShields and second baseman Rougned Odor?

In other words, Banister likely isn’t the manager of the year, in any capacity, if not for the shrewd moves made by upper-level management. Banister is well aware of this as he stated as much to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

The last Rangers Manager of the Year?

Buck Showalter in 2004.

If anything, Rangers fans have to be hoping that Banister’s award translates to a longer run than just a couple more seasons. That’s all Showalter got as he was done in Texas following the 2006 campaign.

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With a lineup that should include Darvish in the rotation sooner than later, Banister seems to be in pretty good position to help the Rangers do something they’ve never done before – win the World Series.

Ample credit goes to Daniels for recognizing this fact.