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1.) Kirk Gibson, Arizona
No way Arizona wins the West without Gibson at the helm. Having inherited a 65-win team that used 48 different players in 2010, Gibby led a charge to unseat the defending world champs and advance to the postseason as a division winner. What more can be said?
Now the only question is how much longer Arizona will wait to extend his contract with one season remaining on it?
2.) Tony LaRussa, St. Louis
No Adam Wainright. No closer. Pujols missed considerable time. An epic late season comeback from 10-games back of the Wild Card leading Braves. Typical LaRussa–always finding a way, even when battling shingles.
3.) Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia
The Phillies, unquestionably, had the best rotation in baseball–on paper. But they still had to prove it on the field, and did so with little to no offense and World Series expectations to boot.
Manuel pulled all the right strings leading the Phils to the major’s best record (102-60).
NLDS loss aside, Manuel’s bunch couldn’t have been much better during the regular season.
*) Honorable Mentions: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee–Fredi Gonzalez, Atlanta–Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
*Dusty Baker, Cincinnati – Baker shed his reputation as a verterans-first manager to guide a young and inexperienced club to an unexpected division championship.
Despite playing in a home ballpark conducive to hitting, Baker instead preached defense first and aggressive base running secondly. The Reds bought-in to capture its first winning season in ten years and its first trip to the postseason since 1995.
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia – Manuel delivered his promise that his team “will be back” after losing the the World Series to New York.
Chuck marched the Phils back into contention in the season’s second half by masterfully handling a faulty bullpen and a roster depleted by costly injuries to key players.
Three straight division championships has won Manuel the respect of the home market that once mocked him and positioned Philly to become the the first NL team since St. Louis in 1942-44 to reach three straight World Series.
Bud Black, San Diego – No one predicted the Padres would win 90 games in 2010. But despite a new GM and zero significant additions over the offseason, Black led the Friars to within 2 games of the West division title.
Manager of the Year
*Jim Tracy, Colorado – There wasn’t a better manager during the season’s second half, and the Rocks nearly overcame a 15-game deficit to win the division against the Dodgers in the West.
Joe Torre, Los Angeles – A division title despite the Manny debacle and the rash of injuries, especially felt on the pitching staff. Classic Torre all the way.
Tony LaRussa, St. Louis – Kept a Mod Podge group in contention until the trade deadline. It was all beautiful baseball from there, until the postseason, of course!