|Gentlemen, state your cases. (Getty Images)|
Who's in line to win NL Manager of the Year? It's a tight race between three strong candidates, and it's subject to change on a daily basis ...
Dusty Baker, Reds: No Joey Votto? No sweat. The Reds have thrived without the masher who was, at the time of his knee injury, the runaway favorite for NL MVP. At this writing, Baker's club has the best record in baseball and is on pace for 98 wins. While Baker's tactical instincts and handling of pitchers will always rankle some, there's no disputing the results in 2012.
Davey Johnson, Nationals: Is Johnson the best manager in baseball now that Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa are no more? Probably so. Johnson's reshaped the Nats' offensive approach and helped the team overcome a rash of early-season injuries. The shame of it is that he was exiled from the major-league dugout for so long.
Clint Hurdle, Pirates: Hurdle's Buccos have slipped a bit in August, but they're coming off a big series win over the Cardinals. They're still very much alive for a wild-card berth, and they need just 12 more wins to cinch their first winning season since 1992. Hurdle's doing it all with the fifth-lowest payroll in all of baseball.
|More from Eye on Baseball|
Bruce Bochy, Giants: The Giants are without Melky Cabrera for the rest of the season, and the division-rival Dodgers have been relentless in making over their roster. Still and yet, the Giants have a semi-comfy lead in the NL West. That's a credit to Bochy's steady leadership.
Bud Black, Padres: Black is indeed a long shot for this award, but what if the Padres stay on their current roll? They're playing .600 ball since the All-Star break, and they're 17-10 in August. They've rebounded despite injuries and despite having used 15 different starting pitchers this season.