Major League Baseball's regular season is nearing its end. That means this is as good of a time as any to start talking about hardware. As such, this week on CBS Sports we're running through every award for each league. In this particular piece, you'll find all you need to know about the American League Manager of the Year award. For more on the National League race, click here.

Typically, the recipient of this award either oversaw the best team or the most surprising team. With that in mind, there only about four realistic candidates.

The favorites

Alex Cora, Red Sox: It's true that Cora inherited a good roster -- one that had won the AL East in each of the previous two seasons. But the Red Sox have managed to exceed expectations, to the extent that they're currently on pace to win more than 114 games. Did we mention Cora is a rookie manager? Because he is, and he's likely to benefit from that fact come voting season.

Bob Melvin, Athletics: Entering the season, the A's were thought of as a potential dark horse in the AL wild-card chase. Oakland has more than lived up to that billing, entering Monday with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Mariners for the second spot in the play-in game. It's worth noting Melvin has won his league's Manager of the Year award in two other seasons, most recently in 2012.

If we had to guess, Cora will get the award. The A's are a great story, but the Red Sox could steal the narrative aspect by threatening the single-season wins record.

Others to watch

Scott Servais, Mariners: Servais' case so resembles Melvin's that it's fair to expect whichever manager reaches the AL Wild Card Game to finish first or second, no matter how the race plays out.

Kevin Cash, Rays: There's an argument to be made that Cash is the best non-rookie manager who hasn't reached the postseason. That argument will be good for at least another season. Still, Cash deserves props -- especially for how he has gotten the most from his pitching staff and has kept the clubhouse on board despite numerous trades -- and he'll likely receive them in the form of down-ballot votes.

Aaron Boone, Yankees: Remember what we wrote about Cora? The argument for Boone is a watered down version of that. He deserves credit, but there's no real reason to think he's in contention to win or finish second in voting.

A.J. Hinch, Astros: The downside to winning the World Series? Having sky-high expectations the next season. Hinch is good, but the Astros don't have the best record and are -- at best -- the third-biggest surprise in their division. He would prefer another ring to this trophy anyway.