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Texas Rangers’ Jeff Banister Named AL’s Best Manager

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays
Getty Images – Brian Blanco

Jeff Banister, manager of the Texas Rangers (88-74), has been named American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The first-year manager overcame injuries to pitchers Derek Holland and Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton’s return, the acquisition of left-hander Cole Hamels and more.

The Rangers were awful to start the year, but ultimately that just led to a more dramatic ending as they turned it on late, culminating in a division championship.

Banister joined a very short list of men who have won the award in their first year, including: Houston’s Hal Lanier (1986); San Francisco’s Dusty Baker (1993); Florida’s Joe Girardi (2006); and Washington’s Matt Williams (2014).

“To be able to have this in year one — tremendous,” Banister said (quote via ESPN). “But it means that we had a group of players that went out every single day, they showed up, they played well, they beat back some odds, they were resilient, they showed some grit and played together and really, truly played for each other on a nightly basis, and I was most proud of that.”

Banister, who overcame bone cancer with multiple operations in high school and was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down after a home-plate collision in junior college, has been dealing with adversity for a long time.

He joined the Rangers after 29 years as a player, coach and instructor at all levels of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. As a player, Banister had one at bat and one hit for a career .1000 batting average.

“All the things that I’ve been through in my lifetime — and there were a lot of times that I asked why — well, there were times this year that I knew exactly why,” the 51-year-old Banister said. “It was so that I could give another group of people some thoughts, some ideas, some toughness and some motivation to continue to press forward.”

Banister earned 17 first-place votes and 112 total points to beat A.J. Hinch (82 points) of the Houston Astros and Paul Molitor (33) of the Minnesota Twins. All three were in their first years with their current teams.

Joe Maddon took the NL honor for his third Manager of the Year award after leading the Cubs to MLB’s third-best record and 24 more wins than the 2014 Cubs.

[via ESPN]

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