|Buck Showalter may or may not be bragging about this list to Robin Ventura. (US Presswire)|
So, our tour of the BBWAA award races ends here, with the big daddy of them all -- the American League Manager of the Year. This is the one I know you have spent hours debating at the bar, so let's just get to it…
Buck Showalter, Orioles: The Orioles have allowed 46 more runs than they've scored, that's worse than the Blue Jays, Mets and only six runs better than the Royals. Of those teams, only the Orioles are within 3 1/2 games of the lead in their division. While their Pythagorean record is 60-69, their real record is 71-58. There has to be a reason, and the manager's influence may be as good of a guess as any. Showalter's done a masterful job, and there's no question about that.
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Bob Melvin, Athletics: The Angels are fading, but the A's aren't -- and that's something nobody would have expected a month ago. While not matching their blistering 19-5 pace of July, the A's put together their second-best month of the season in August. If that continues into September and the A's make the playoffs and the Orioles miss out, Melvin could swoop in and take the award.
Eric Wedge, Mariners: Don't laugh. Even though the Mariners are 63-68, the Mariners are 27-17 in the second half of the season and 21-13 since Ichiro Suzuki was traded. Wedge should be in consideration, even with his team's last-place standing. By going under the radar the second half of this year and Houston joining the AL West next season, he's a good sleeper pick for the 2013 Manager of the Year Award.
Joe Maddon, Rays: He's arguably the best manager in the game, but there's no overwhelming narrative that boosts his case -- and while bloggers love to blast voters over narratives for other awards, this is the one where that actually does account for votes. The Rays are at their sneaky best, pitching well, scoring enough runs and within striking distance entering the final month of the season.