Hinch finishes second in BBWAA skipper race

Hinch finishes second in BBWAA skipper race

HOUSTON -- Despite leading the Astros to their first winning season in seven years and their first playoff berth in a decade, A.J. Hinch finished second to Rangers manager Jeff Banister in the Baseball Writers' Association of America's 2015 American League Manager of the Year Award voting revealed Tuesday.

Banister, a Houston-area native, received 17 first-place votes from the BBWAA and finished with 112 points, compared to eight first-place votes and 82 points for Hinch. Twins manager Paul Molitor was third with 33 points (two first-place votes).

"I think it's an honor to even be considered, given not just the success of the three teams that were represented, but plenty of other teams that had successful managers," Hinch said. "I'm proud of the exposure for our team and our organization. We have a Rookie of the Year [Award winner in Carlos Correa] and a potential Cy Young [Award winner in Dallas Keuchel], so it's capping a wonderful season for us."

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR VOTING

Manager, Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Jeff Banister, TEX 17 8 3 112
A.J. Hinch, HOU 8 13 3 82
Paul Molitor, MIN 2 3 14 33
John Gibbons, TOR 1 5 2 22
Joe Girardi, NYY 2   2 12
Ned Yost, KC   1 5 8
Mike Scioscia, LAA     1 1

Hinch, hired at the end of the 2014 season, guided the Astros to an 86-76 record in '15. They earned the second AL Wild Card spot on the final day of the regular season, bucking the naysayers who predicted they weren't ready to contend for the postseason. The Astros led the AL West for 139 days before falling into second place in September after they were swept by the eventual division-champ Rangers.

Hinch set a consistent and positive tone, beginning in the spring, to which the players responded.

"It starts with a belief that we can be good enough," Hinch said. "Everybody saw the changes that were made in the offseason. We had new players, we had a new coaching staff, new manager. [General manager Jeff Luhnow's] plan was starting to mature to the point to where we felt like we had a chance in Spring Training, if we could get the right mindset from the players and coaches to go out and compete and give our best.

"From the beginning of Spring Training, to the beginning of the season, to the end of the season, the success we had started to build a belief and conviction that we were a team that was going to have to be taken seriously."

Hinch melded a roster that included players who had suffered through a string of losing seasons, such as Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, Marwin Gonzalez and Keuchel, and an influx of rookies who made an impact like Correa and Lance McCullers. Newcomers Colby Rasmus, Jed Lowrie, Luis Valbuena and Hank Conger played key roles as well.

"A.J. helped me in a big way," said Correa, who was named the BBWAA's AL Rookie of the Year Award winner on Monday. "He's a great manager. One of the best out there that I've ever had, and as soon as I got there, he called me to his office and said, 'Hey kid, you're going to hit sixth tonight. Just go out there and have fun and try not to do too much and be yourself. It's the same game you've always played, but in a different atmosphere. Just have fun, and your best is going to be good enough for us.'

"I didn't try to do too much. I just went out and tried to have fun and do what he said, and it worked out pretty good."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.