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AL Manager of the Year Watch: John Farrell clings to slim lead

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

John Farrell's in the lead mostly because his team is, too. (USATSI)
John Farrell's in the lead mostly because his team is, too. (USATSI)

Awards Watch: NL MVP | AL MVP | NL Cy Young | AL Cy Young | AL Rookie | NL Rookie | NL Manager

Our walking tour of the various awards races continues, and this time out we're handicapping the American League Manager of the Year fray.

Typically, Manager of the Year laurels go to the skipper whose team did the best job of defying expectations for the better. That idea, then, will inform our choices.

As a reminder, these are predictions of who will win based on the season to date and not statements of who deserves to win ...

[Names listed alphabetically within categories]

Front-runner(s)

John Farrell, Red Sox: Farrell's present case is pretty simple: He inherited a team that lost 93 games a year ago, and he has them atop (albeit narrowly) baseball's toughest division. By Aug. 7, he'd bested last year's win total. Sometimes merely being the antidote to Bobby Valentine is enough.

In the mix

Terry Francona, Indians: Sure, Francona's Indians made some notable moves this offseason -- particularly notable by the usual standards of the organization -- but the reality is that the Tribe is on pace to improve their 2012 record by 20 full games. The guy can manage, as we already knew.

Joe Girardi, Yankees: Girardi has a World Series ring to his managerial credit, but this season may be his finest. Despite a skeleton crew of a roster for much of the year and despite a schedule that ranks to date as the second-toughest in all of baseball, Girardi's Yanks have a winning record and an outside shot at a playoff berth.

Bob Melvin, Athletics: Was last year a fluke in Oakland? I'll confess to believing just that. The 2013 season thus far, however, suggests it was anything but. Melvin's A's find themselves on pace for 91 wins and a spot in the wild-card round.

Ron Washington, Rangers: No Josh Hamilton? Injury upon injury in the rotation? Season-ending suspension for Nelson Cruz? Ron Washington's club just keeps winning. At the moment, they lead their division and are tied for the best record in the AL.

Fading away

Ned Yost, Royals: For a while there, the Royals were piping hot, but at this writing they've dropped seven of their last nine. As such, they have less than a 10-percent chance of making the playoffs. Should that change, then Yost is very much in the discussion. Right now, though, he's not.

Dark horse(s)

Joe Maddon, Rays: Most of us figured the Rays would be relevant again despite the usual roster churn (no more James Shields, most notably). And here they are. But if they wind up besting all comers in the mighty AL East and maybe even claim top seed in the playoffs despite a payroll that ranks 28th, then the Bespectacled One will have his advocates.

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