The Texas Rangers head into Monday's action one game ahead in the AL West despite a rash of injuries and the suspension of Nelson Cruz. The fact that manager Ron Washington has managed to keep his team together and in contention with everything going on around him is one of the top jobs done by anyone this season and should have him in contention for AL manager of the year.
But is it the best job he's done since becoming skipper prior to the 2007 season? Let's look at some of the choices:
2008: Washington's team started 7-16, and it sure appeared that his days could be numbered. Nolan Ryan had just taken over as team president, and Washington was not his hire. But Washington never changed his approach or attitude with his team, and his steadiness amid the pressure impressed everyone, including Ryan. More importantly, Washington's team improved. The Rangers were over .500 for the rest of the season. Considering how young the team was and how they started, it was a terrific managerial job.
2010: In the middle of spring training, Washington had to get up and apologize to his team once news of a failed drug test became public. Washington then held a news conference and his entire team showed up in support. The skipper handled that situation as well as he could have, and his team rallied behind him. But that wasn't the only obstacle he dealt with that season. The team was facing financial troubles once former owner Tom Hicks was forced to sell, and the future of the Rangers ended up in court. Washington would not allow his club to lose focus from what it could control on the field, even when he had to make an appearance in bankruptcy court himself. While the team went through an auction that eventually resulted in an ownership group of Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg -- who is no longer with the organization -- the Rangers just kept winning. Washington navigated his squad through the AL in the playoffs, too, resulting in the first World Series appearance for the franchise.
2013: Shortly after the season began, the Rangers lost 2012 18-game winner Matt Harrison to injury. He still hasn't returned. Colby Lewis, thought to be coming back in June, will not return in 2013. Texas went into the offseason with high hopes but watched as Zack Greinke spurned the team to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli departed. The Rangers were left to fill one of those spots with Lance Berkman, who is currently rehabbing and hoping his knees hold up. Perhaps for some teams, the possibility of losing a slugger like Cruz to a suspension would loom over the club, but not this one. Cruz played well before the suspension and Washington's team hasn't lost since Cruz sat down starting last Monday. This season's club, more than any other since 2010, is playing in Washington's mold. The Rangers have become the versatile offense he was hoping for. They can hit the home run but don't rely on it. Texas, after starting the season slowly in this department, is having productive outs, utilizing its speed and putting pressure on the opponent. The skipper has also picked the perfect time to call team meetings. Twice this season, the Rangers have responded after getting together and talking things out.
To me, this is Washington's best season, considering everything that's gone on. This was a team many didn't expect to stay as competitive as it has. What do you think? Which season of the three above is Washington's best?