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Dusty Baker was the NL's best manager this season

November 6, 2012 - Troy Hyde
The National League Manager of the Year will come down to three men who guided three teams three different ways.

The Cardinals were the defending champions, the Atlanta Braves were supposed to send Chipper out on top and the Dodgers spent so much money that they were a lock to reach the World Series.

None of those teams managed to win their divisions this season though. Here are my top three managers of the past regular season.

3. Bruce Bochy, San Franciso Giants

The Giants were perhaps the most surprise division winner because so many experts thought the Dodgers with a Cy Young and MVP candidate and so many big-name guys that they got at the trade deadline were such a lock at the title.

Bochy made sure his team stayed the course all season and built a team of guys nobody else wanted around strong pitching and two stars in the middle of the lineup in Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. They had the MVP candidate in Posey and pitched better than anyone else when it mattered most this season.

2. Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals

The Nationals were said to be a few years away still of competing for the division title. They regrouped their pitching staff and built a strong core of hitters in the middle of their lineup, but were thought to still be trailing the Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.

Don't tell that to the Nationals, who ended up with the best record in baseball. And if Steven Strasburg wasn't shut down so soon, we may be talking about a World Series ring as well. Johnson did wonders with this team a few years ahead of schedule and that will show up in the final manager voting.

1. Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds

When Joey Votto went down with an injury and then went to the DL for a long period of time, not many baseball fans or even Reds' fans thought Cincinnati had a chance at the division crown. He was too valuable.

The Reds not only played as well without Votto, but they extend their lead from one game to double-digit games down the stretch and ran away with the Central Division title.

Baker may have done his best managerial job of his long career and did so with some of his big guns -- Drew Stubbs and Zach Cozart -- not performing at the plate. Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick carried the offense when Votto was out and the pitching staff and strong defense did the rest.

Baker needs to work on his ability to manage in the postseason, but it can't be argued what he has done as a manager in the regular season. And since this is a regular season award, I am giving it to Baker because the Reds jumped two playoff teams in the division to claim the title and did so without Votto for much of the regular season.

Any one of these three managers listed above could win this award, and I won't be unhappy with any selection. My pick goes to Baker, but Bochy likely wins.

 
 

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