A.J. Hinch was named the 18th manager in Astros franchise history on Sept. 29, 2014. In his second season with the Astros in 2016, Hinch guided his Astros to an 84-78 record, their second consecutive winning season, marking the first time the club had posted back to back winning years since doing so in six straight from 2001-06. Hinch's 2016 Astros overcame a slow start to the season, multiple injuries to major players and played with one of the youngest rosters in the American League, but still managed to play meaningful baseball all season, as the club entered the final weekend of play still in Wild Card contention. In his return to the dugout in 2015, Hinch guided the Astros to their first postseason appearance in 10 years and their 10th postseason appearance in franchise history. The 2015 Astros finished 86-76, a 16-game improvement over the 2014 Astros (70-92), which is the largest improvement for a first-year manager in franchise history. The 2015 Astros spent 139 days in first place in the AL West before eventually clinching a Wild Card position on the final day of the regular season. Houston would win the Wild Card Game at New York and advance to the ALDS before losing the series, three games to two, to the eventual World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. In recognition for his efforts in 2015, Hinch was named a finalist for the BBWAA American League Manager of the Year, finishing second to Rangers Manager Jeff Bannister. Hinch was also a 2015 All-Star, as Royals Manager Ned Yost named Hinch as a coach for the AL All-Star Team, joining fellow Astros Dallas Keuchel and Jose Altuve on the AL squad. By earning this honor, Hinch became the first Astros manager selected to an All-Star Game since Jimy Williams in 2004. Hinch has a diverse background in the game, having more than 20 years of playing, managing and front office experience in Major League Baseball. This is his second managerial position, having served as Arizona's manager for parts of two seasons from 2009- 10. At the time of his appointment, Hinch was 34 years old, by far the youngest manager in the Major Leagues.
While his hiring by Arizona was considered unconventional at the time, Hinch's hire paved the way for many other first-time managers to get their shots at skippering for the first time at the Major League level, including current managers Brad Ausmus (DET), Craig Counsell (MIL), Mike Matheny (STL) and Scott Servais (SEA). Seven years later, at 42 years old and manager of the Houston Astros, Hinch ranks as the third-youngest manager in the Major Leagues, behind only Kevin Cash (TB) and Andy Green (SD), who are both 39. Between his managerial posts, Hinch worked with the San Diego Padres, where he most recently served as the club's Vice President and Assistant General Manager for three years (2011-14). In that role, Hinch oversaw all aspects of the club's professional scouting and medical departments, while assisting with the club's roster composition, player acquisitions, talent evaluations and contract negotiations. Prior to joining a front office, Hinch played parts of seven Major League seasons with Oakland (1998-2000), Kansas City (2001-02), Detroit (2003) and Philadelphia (2004-05). A former catcher, Hinch played in 350 career Major League games after a wildly successful collegiate career at Stanford. At Stanford, Hinch established himself as one of the best catchers in school history. A three-time All-American and All-Pac10 team selection, Hinch earned Pac10 Player of the Year honors twice. In 1996, Hinch led the Cardinal to the College World Series and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best collegiate player in the country. Hinch still ranks among the top 10 all-time in eight statistical categories for Stanford, including hits (305, fourth), triples (15, fifth), doubles (58, sixth), runs (219, sixth), batting average (.351, seventh), RBI (191, seventh), at-bats (868, ninth) and games played (229, 10th). He led the Cardinal in hitting three times in four years, including an impressive .381 mark in 1996. For his achievements on the field and his contributions to the school, Hinch was inducted into the Stanford University Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 11, 2014. During his time in Palo Alto, Hinch earned his Bachelor of Science in psychology in 1996 and was a member of the 1996 bronze medal-winning U.S. Olympic Baseball Team. He was drafted three times as an amateur, in the second round of the 1992 draft out of high school by Chicago (AL), in the third round of the 1995 draft by Minnesota and in the third round of the 1996 draft by Oakland, before signing with the Athletics after his senior season at Stanford. Hinch, who retired as a player after the 2005 season, joined Arizona's front office one month after retirement and was eventually named the team's Director of Player Development. He held that role until being named the Diamondbacks manager in 2009. Hinch was raised in Midwest City, Okla., and now makes his residence in The Woodlands, Texas, with his wife Erin and his daughters Haley and Kaitlin.