NL Manager of the Year Watch: Can Clint be caught?
Down the stretch these NL skippers come, and it still appears to be Clint Hurdle's to lose.
Our check-up on the various awards races continues, and this time out we're handicapping the National 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 or overcoming unanticipated obstacles. That, then, will inform our choices in most cases.
As a reminder, these are predictions of who will win based on the season to date and not statements of who deserves to win ...
Clint Hurdle, Pirates: The long-suffering Buccos have already clinched their first winning season since 1992 and are all but mortal locks for a postseason berth. That they've thus far avoided a 2012-style stretch-drive collapse only adds to Hurdle's case. They're going to the playoffs, but only a sustained losing streak to end the season can take this award from Hurdle's clutches. Already, the Pirates have improved their win total by nine games over season-ago levels.
|In the mix|
Freddie Gonzalez, Braves: Coming into the season, the Nationals were heavy favorites in the AL East. Well, Gonzalez's Braves are going to win the division by a wide margin, and they'll do so despite a long list of injuries. That's enough to put Gonzalez squarely in the mix, even if the Pirates have the power of the narrative locked down.
Don Mattingly, Dodgers: Mattingly, of course, was on the verge of losing his job back when they were 9 1/2 games out in late June. Now, they're the NL West champs -- winners of the division that houses the reigning World Series champs. In a sense, Mattingly's pricey Dodgers are "merely" living up to expectations, but the improbable comeback makes him a contender for the award.
The Yankees were sellers at the deadline, but are still fringe contenders
Get ready for Guaranteed Rate Field
The Mets star can re-enter free agency this winter if he so desires
The Marlins and Pirates looked like they were heading in opposite directions
Baltimore will be without its best starter for the time being
The Royals are scorching hot right now, but were seven games under .500 before the streak