Managers of the Year: Cubs' Maddon wins NL, Rangers' Banister wins AL
Joe Maddon and Jeff Banister were a huge hit in their new jobs. Now, immediate team success has reaped individual rewards.
Maddon won his third Manager of the Year award Tuesday and Banister his first after each guided an unexpected run to the playoffs.
In his initial season with the Chicago Cubs, Maddon took the National League prize following the club's first postseason appearance since 2008. He also won in the AL with Tampa Bay in 2008 and 2011.
"It's really good to know that what you believe in works in other places," Maddon said during a break from his pizza-and-wine celebration with family and friends. "I didn't tweak anything. It was the same approach."
Maddon received 18 of 30 first-place votes and 124 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He beat out St. Louis' Mike Matheny and the New York Mets' Terry Collins by a surprisingly comfortable margin, becoming the seventh manager to win the award at least three times and the seventh to earn it in both leagues.
"To be the steward of this wonderful group of young players, I feel very fortunate," Maddon said on MLB Network.
Banister garnered 17 first-place votes and 112 points, easily topping Houston's A.J. Hinch and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor from the Minnesota Twins, another rookie skipper.
Banister joined Houston's Hal Lanier (1986), San Francisco's Dusty Baker (1993), Florida's Joe Girardi (2006) and Washington's Matt Williams (2014) as the only men to win in their first season as a major league manager.
"To be able to have this in year one — tremendous," Banister said. "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."
Texas won 88 games this season, 21 more than last year, in capturing the AL West title despite several significant injuries, including losing ace Yu Darvish for the entire season to elbow surgery. The Rangers won their first two playoff games in Toronto before dropping the next three and getting eliminated.
Adversity was nothing new to 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. He joined the Rangers after 29 years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as a player, coach and instructor at all levels.
"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."
Hinch finished second with eight first-place votes and 82 points. Molitor got two first-place votes and 33 points.
New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi received a pair of first-place votes, and Toronto's John Gibbons got the other one.
Maddon left Tampa Bay last fall and signed a $25 million, five-year contract to manage the Cubs. He took over a team that was coming off five straight losing seasons and hadn't won a playoff game since 2003.
With his colorful, fun-loving manner, the 61-year-old Maddon led a young club to the third-best record in the majors at 97-65. That was 24 wins better than the previous season and good for third in the competitive NL Central behind St. Louis and second-place Pittsburgh.
Chicago beat the Pirates in the wild-card game and then the Cardinals in the Division Series before getting swept by the Mets in the NLCS.
"Overachieving would indicate that we really did not have that level of talent, and I don't think that's true," Maddon said. "I believe what occurred eventually was that we kind of realized our potentials."
Matheny came in second with nine first-place votes and 87 points. Collins was listed atop three ballots and had 49 points.
Voting is conducted before the postseason.
Awards week is shaping up as a big one for the revitalized Cubs. Third baseman Kris Bryant was chosen NL Rookie of the Year on Monday, and ace pitcher Jake Arrieta is one of three finalists for the Cy Young Award on Wednesday.
"The spotlight is shining from Wrigley Field," Maddon said.