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Buck Showalter is a leading candidate for AL Manager of the Year.
1. Baltimore Orioles
2. Oakland A's
3. New York Yankees
4. Texas Rangers
5. Detroit Tigers
Again, there's probably no right order here. This is an area where one is forced to basically rely only on subjective interpretation.
The Orioles get the nod for the top spot because Buck Showalter has been pushing the right buttons all year long, particularly when it comes to his bullpen. Pitching coach Rick Adair has worked wonders with an unspectacular starting pitching staff, and Jim Presley's work as the team's hitting instructor is definitely paying off these days.
The A's could occupy the top spot as well. Bob Melvin has been just as good as Showalter at knowing what pieces to use and when, and pitching coach Curt Young has done a truly excellent job with the team's young staff. Chili Davis has gotten guys like Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss to turn into feared sluggers. Nuff said.
Joe Girardi can make odd decisions sometimes in New York, but he deserves credit for the way his guys all fall in line behind him. Larry Rothschild has had his hands full as the club's pitching coach this season, but he's done well considering the circumstances. Hitting coach Kevin Long doesn't have to do much with the hitters he has at his disposal.
The same could be said of Rangers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, though he probably doesn't get enough credit for the work he's done with Texas' hitters. Pitching coach Mike Maddux, on the other hand, has been getting plenty of well-deserved credit for years now.
I have the Rangers down in the No. 4 spot because I'm not overly fond of Ron Washington's in-game managing. He's a good leader, but he makes some odd lineup choices and pitching changes every now and then.
Meanwhile in Detroit, it doesn't reflect very well on hitting coach Lloyd McClendon that the Tigers are forced to revolve so heavily around three hitters. Pitching coach Jeff Jones has done pretty well with his starting rotation, but one wonders if he's been neglecting the team's bullpen given its season-long struggles.
One sympathizes with Jim Leyland because he hasn't had a ton of talent to rely on this season, but that same problem hasn't stopped the Orioles and A's from becoming elite teams.