Let me first start by admitting I've been a critic of Ron Washington. Whether it's lineup construction, bullpen usage or in-game strategy, I've been there to point out what I have perceived as faults in his moves. One thing that doesn't get talked about enough is what Wash does right.
Players play hard for Ron Washington. Prince Fielder said in an interview with Fox Sports Southwest's Emily Jones that he loves playing for Wash. Michael Young came to his defense when Ron admitted drug use a few years ago and Ron himself came to the realization that he wore out the 2012 team by playing the regulars too many games without enough rest.
The 2014 version of the Texas Rangers have been a minor miracle, battling through what seems like a disabled list disaster. They are currently without their starting third baseman Adrian Beltre, starting second baseman Jurickson Profar, starting catcher Geovany Soto, starting pitcher Derek Holland and a slew of others. Even Shin-Soo Choo, who likely won't have to go on the DL, is missing time this week with an ankle injury. The patchwork lineup which includes Josh Wilson, Michael Choice, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Robinson Chirinos has been better than advertised. 'Better,' meaning they are only 1/2 game back in the AL West and have the second best record in the American League.
Ron Washington deserves some credit. The team is a cohesive unit that celebrates the victories and doesn't get too down after a loss or error. One thing Wash does is motivate his guys. A prime example is Josh Wilson in Tuesday night's game in Oakland. Wilson let a ground ball get by him in the bottom of the 4th that resulted in two runs and gave the A's the lead. In the ninth, Wilson doubled home Leonys Martin and tied the game for the Rangers.
Players win and lose games and the manager doesn't have a huge impact once the game starts. He has some, but the players still play the game and decide the outcome. In the clubhouse is a different story where a manager has a daily impact on the attitude and preparedness of his players. When is the last time Wash pulled a player for not hustling?
This ship has sprung a few leaks in 2014 but Wash and his staff have kept this team from sinking. I'm sure at some point I'll criticize the two time American League Champion manager for a bunt or for saving the closer for a closer situation or some other thing that Wash and I don't agree on, but I won't forget how good he's been so far in 2014.
March on, Ron.
Patrick Despain is the former CEO of ShutdownInning.com and co-host of a new Rangers podcast launching later this month. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickDespain or reach him by email at email@example.com.