1. Paul Molitor, Twins
2. Terry Francona, Indians
3. A.J. Hinch, Astros
No team has ever reached the playoff the year losing 100 games. Molitor’s Twins are headed there after losing 103 games last year. They’ve done it despite a pitching staff that strikes out fewer batters than any team except Texas, and despite using 16 starting pitchers, a franchise record and an ensemble that would tie the 2015 Dodgers for the most ever by a playoff team. Not bad for a team that traded its closer and a veteran starting pitcher in July, thinking a postseason berth was unlikely.
Minnesota went 30–18 after Aug. 5. Only the Indians and Red Sox played better down the stretch in the AL. Okay, playing about a third of the schedule in that run against the two worst teams in the league, Chicago and Detroit, helped boost the Twins. They went 11–4 against those two teams in that span, with three more games remaining against the Tigers.