LOS ANGELES -- In delivering the first World Series championship to an Astros franchise that dates back to 1962, A.J. Hinch proved to be the perfect manager for this roster and front office.• Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear:: World Series presented by YouTube TV: Complete
LOS ANGELES -- In delivering the first World Series championship to an Astros franchise that dates back to 1962, A.J. Hinch proved to be the perfect manager for this roster and front office.
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"Tremendous job," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said as his club celebrated a 5-1 win in Game 7 in the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. "We have such a good collaboration between the front office and the coaching staff. He pulled all the right strings, he really did."
In Game 3, Hinch stayed with Brad Peacock for 3 2/3 innings of relief, and Peacock earned the save. In Game 7, Hinch went to his bullpen in the third inning and eventually got the ball to Charlie Morton, who pitched the final four innings to earn the win.
While much attention is placed on the club's analytics department, Hinch proved his worth time and again with how he managed the 'pen, on top of sticking with World Series MVP George Springer as his leadoff hitter after a rough Game 1.
"There's more than numbers in this team, people don't realize that," said bench coach Alex Cora, soon to be the manager of the Red Sox. "Today, Charlie Morton went out there in the sixth and we let him run. Brad Peacock in Game 3, we let him run. People don't realize that that's on eyes and trust and A.J. Hinch did an outstanding job doing that."
Hinch's value to Houston goes beyond his ability to manage a game. He's also skilled as a leader, motivator and communicator.
"The players are what makes it all go around," Hinch said. "And as their manager, my job is to get the most out of them. My job is to push them when they need to be pushed, to hug them when they need to be hugged, to believe in them always, and set a culture where they'll believe in themselves and they'll prioritize winning."
Luhnow pointed to Hinch's leadership during the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, when the Astros lost three games in a row on the road and returned to Houston on the brink of elimination, only to rally with back-to-back wins and reach the Fall Classic for the second time in franchise history.
"After those three games in New York, there's a lot of people that were feeling like the sky was falling," Luhnow said. "But A.J. was very confident, he knew that Verlander would win that Game 6 and then it's a crapshoot in Game 7. We had some good pitchers going, we're at home, and it worked out."
The same held true in the World Series. There was no panic in Hinch after the Dodgers forced Game 7.
"Even after we lost last night, he had a good feeling about today," Luhnow said. "Because our bullpen was rested, we had several guys available. We didn't even use all the guys we had available. He made the right decisions tonight."
Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, a special assistant to Luhnow, has been awed by Hinch's managerial skills since the Astros hired the Stanford graduate before the 2015 season.
"A.J.'s been great, not just this year but since he's been hired," Biggio said. "A.J. and the staff are incredible. It's one thing to game manage, but you also have to manage personalities, you have to manage a lot of different stuff, and he does an incredible job and I can't think of a better guy to have at the helm than A.J. Hinch."
Inside Houston's clubhouse, Hinch is revered.
"This whole team would run through a wall for that guy," said Alex Bregman. "He's a motivator, he believes in all of us, and he managed a heck of a season and a heck of a game today."
**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.