MLB awards watch: National League Manager of the Year race could go down to NL East skippers

The MLB season has hit the dog days of August and this is about the time we can seriously start discussing the races for major individual awards in addition to keeping watch with the divisional and wild-card races. In the case of the former, this week here on CBS Sports, we'll be running through each award for each league and discussing the top candidates. We start with Manager of the Year, specifically the National League race. For more on the American League Manager of the Year race, click here

As we know, the path to winning Manager of the Year most of the time lies in taking a team that wasn't previously in contention to the postseason or just having a very surprising contender. In that light, there are two very strong contenders for the top spot.

The favorites

Gabe Kapler, Phillies: The first week of the season brought a bevy of embarrassing moments for the first-year manager, but since then he has shown that he can adapt and learn on the fly. Kapler has managed around some bullpen meltdowns and continually made adjustments with his group. During a bad stretch, veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta had some complaints about the way the team was being run and Kapler's response couldn't have been more perfect. Now, the Phillies are tied for first place. 

Brian Snitker, Braves: The other team tied atop the NL East, the Braves won just 72 games last year and they are already up to 64 this time around. Like Kapler, Snitker has had to make a few adjustments to his bullpen and he keeps pulling the right strings, for the most part. A general feeling heading into the season I got was that most people thought the Phillies were a little closer to contending than the Braves. I wonder if that would help Snitker here? 

Overall, it would be an awfully tough call between these two right now. 

Others to watch

Craig Counsell, Brewers: After a 13-game improvement last season to 86 wins, Counsell only finished fourth in the voting for this particular award. The Brewers are on pace to win 90 this time around and occupy the top NL wild-card spot. 

Dave Roberts, Dodgers: The Dodgers are going to lose a lot more games than last year, but they lost Corey Seager for the season, were without Justin Turner for a while and were 16-26 at one point. He might get some down-ballot love. 

Joe Maddon, Cubs: The Cubs have basically gotten nothing from Yu Darvish, awful work from Tyler Chatwood, very little from Kris Bryant and closer Brandon Morrow has been hurt for a bit. And yet, the Cubs have the top record in the NL.

Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks: Lovullo won the award last year and the D-Backs on on pace to regress in wins, but if they take the NL West over the Dodgers, it's possible to see some votes here. 

Bud Black, Rockies: Black finished third last year and the Rockies appear to be on a similar path. The guess is they would need to take the division in order for him to make a run here.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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