NL Manager of the Year Watch

By C. Trent Rosecrans | Blogger
Either Clint Hurdle or Davey Johnson will likely walk away with the Manager of the Year award. (Getty Images)

We continue our look at award season with the toughest award to vote for -- the manager of the year. What makes the best manager of the year? That's tough to answer. Who will win the award? That's easier -- it's usually the manager whose team was expected to do much but ends up with a winning record or playoff spot instead.

So, with that, there's a clear frontrunner at this point...

FRONTRUNNER(S)

1. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

The Pirates have recorded 19 losing seasons in a row, and assuming the team finishes above .500, Hurdle will likely win the hardware. Pittsburgh's challenged for a playoff spot here in August, and there's something to be said for that.

Awards Watch

2. Davey Johnson, Nationals

Everyone saw the Nationals as having a bright future, but nobody saw them has having the best record in the game here in the second week of August. After the drama with Jim Riggleman last season, Johnson has been a calming influence on the Nationals.

ALSO IN THE MIX

3. Dusty Baker, Reds

Even before the season started, Baker had to deal wtih injuries -- losing his new high-priced closer [Ryan Madson] before he could ever see him pitch in a spring training game. Then after the All-Star break, Baker had to deal with the loss of MVP candidate Joey Votto. What happened? The Reds have surged even without Votto.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT

4. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

Like Baker, Mattingly has had to deal with an extended period of play without his best player and not only managed to keep his team's head above water, but swimming in the right direction. Mattingly's team has responded to his laid-back demeanor and have the second-year skipper in line for his first postseason

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