|Buck Showalter can probably start clearing space on his mantle. (Getty Images)|
With just three weeks of play remaining, we're once again checking out the major award races, and today it's theBuck Showalter American League Manager of the Year award.
For the record, once again, this exercise is looking at how the voting will likely go, not how we think it should go (not that we necessarily disagree).
Buck Showalter, Orioles: The formula for Manager of the Year is simple: total wins minus expected wins. And nobody expected the Orioles to have this many wins. Add a little East Coast bias, and boom, Showalter is your runaway winner. The Orioles won their 80th game of the season on Wednesday, marking the team's first 80-win season since 1997. It was also their 26th one-run victory of the season. Right or wrong, that seems to be an indicator of a manager's prowess for some.
Bob Melvin, Athletics: The American League's smallest payroll? Injuries piling up? Both sound like great excuses -- but the A's don't need any excuses. With a victory over the Angels on Wednesday, Melvin clinched Oakland's first winning season since 2006. Like the Orioles, nobody expected much from the A's in the new big-money AL West, yet with a payroll nearly $100 million under the Angels' (and $25 million below the Orioles'), the A's are in the driver's seat for the top AL wild-card spot.
Joe Maddon, Rays: The incumbent isn't getting the headlines in the AL East this year, eclipsed by Showalter's perceived brilliance in Baltimore and Bobby Valentine's stumbling in Boston, but make no mistake: Maddon's still one of the best -- if not the best -- in the game. He's just been so consistently good that he fails to win the surprise points that seem so important in awarding this piece of hardware.
Robin Ventura, White Sox: The rookie manager has his White Sox in first place right now, but they're 4-6 in their last 10 games and 5-11 in their last 16. It seems like both the White Sox and Tigers are stumbling down the stretch. If the Tigers overtake the White Sox and end up in the playoffs, Ventura's chances at the award may be shot.