Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington deserves credit.
But not a trophy.
I was neither surprised nor disappointed yesterday when Minnesota Twins' skipper Ron Gardenhire was named American League Manager of the Year. While he led his team to 94 wins and a division championship despite major injuries to closer Joe Nathan and first baseman Justin Morneau, Washington led the Rangers to ... their potential.
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Back during spring training in Surprise, Arizona, I picked the Rangers to win 90+ games and win the AL West. So did team president Nolan Ryan. I appreciate Washington's unprecedented journey in 2010 from cocaine admission to champagne celebration, and I fully realize his targeted closer (Frankie Francisco), catcher (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and top two starting pitchers (Scott Feldman and Rich Harden) fizzled.
But given the fact that he had on his roster one of baseball's best position players (Josh Hamilton), best starting pitchers (Cliff Lee) and best relievers (Neftali Feliz), doesn't that somehow diminish his role in the team's accomplishment?
Washington deserved his new contract. Don't look now, but he has improved in wins each of his four seasons in Texas and has 331 regular-season wins, third-most in franchise history behind only Johnny Oates and Bobby Valentine.
To me the Rangers' season - regular, not post-, obviously - was a success, but not surprising. And Washington was good, but not the best.