Twins manager Paul Molitor has been named A.L. Manager of the Year for the first time in his brief 3-year career. It’s the first time a Twins manager has won the award since Ron Gardenhire did it in 2010. Tom Kelly won it in 1991 when the 95-win Twins also won the World Series.
The award is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Molitor, in the final year of his original contract, led the Twins to a stunning turnaround that culminated in a postseason appearance just one season after his club lost 103 games. That bounceback earned Molitor a new 3-year contract, and earned him the nod over two other deserving candidates.
The other finalists for the award were A.J. Hinch, who just won the World Series with the Houston Astros, and Terry Francona, who won 102 games with the Indians — including a league-record 22 games in a row — and is likely headed to the Hall of Fame after his career is over.
Molitor, already a Hall of Fame player, certainly was a deserving candidate. The award is voted on based on regular season performance, so the fact that his Twins bowed out to the Yankees in the A.L. Wild Card game didn’t factor into the voting.
The Twins improbably won 85 games a year after they won just 59. That 26-win improvement is the best among any team to lose 100 or more games since the league expanded to the Wild Card postseason format in 2012. Of course, the year before the Twins had won 83 games, so you could argue that the collapse in 2016 was just as significant as the recovery in 2017.