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Will Gardenhire finally get his due?

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Who is the best manager in baseball?

For my money it is Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire, but the Baseball Writers' Association of America may have a different opinion on Wednesday when it names both the American and National League Managers of the Year.

Gardenhire, who has been runner-up for the award an AL-record five times, led the cash-strapped Twins to an AL Central crown for the sixth time since he took the helm in 2002.

He was without MVP candidate Justin Morneau for the better part of the second half, but his team did not skip a beat and won 94 games, finishing six games in front of the Chicago White Sox in the division.

Bottom line is nobody gets more out of their team than Gardenhire, who is trying to become Minnesota's first Manager of the Year recipient since Tom Kelly won the franchise's only award back in 1991.

While Gardenhire will certainly receive votes, the overwhelming favorite to nab the award is Texas skipper Ron Washington, who led the Rangers to their first AL West title since 1999.


Nobody gets more out of their team than Ron Gardenhire.
The Rangers' run, which, of course, ended with a five-game loss in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, is even more impressive when you consider that their season began with a drug admission from Washington in spring training.

Washington confirmed a report in mid-March that he had tested positive in 2009 for cocaine use. The Rangers, though, stood behind him and it paid off, as the team earned 90 wins to claim its fourth division title, finishing nine games ahead of the Oakland Athletics.

Should Washington win he would be the third Rangers manager honored, joining Johnny Oates, who tied Joe Torre for the award in 1996, and Buck Showalter, the franchise's last winner in 2004.

Boston's Terry Francona and Toronto's Cito Gaston will also get some votes.

In the National League, San Diego's Bud Black should be a shoo-in after having his Padres in the playoff hunt right up until the final day of the season.

Most people had the team pegged for a last-place finish in the NL West, but the Padres relied on solid starting pitching and tremendous bullpen to go 90-72, the team's best mark since 1996.

Black could be challenged by the retired Bobby Cox, whose Atlanta Braves reached the postseason in the final season of his remarkable 29-year managerial career.

Cox, the 1985 AL Manager of the Year and a three-time NL Manager of the Year (1991, 2004-05), led the Braves to a 91-71 record -- their most wins since 2004 -- and to the NL Wild Card.

Philadelphia skipper Charlie Manuel should also get some votes, as the Phillies overcame a ton of injuries to win a major league-best 97 games.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will also receive some votes, but ballots were turned in before the Giants' improbable run to a World Series title.

THE SPORTS NETWORK PICK:

AL MANAGER - RON GARDENHIRE, MINNESOTA

NL MANAGER - BUD BLACK, SAN DIEGO

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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