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Repeat performance puts Melvin in AL MOY race

Became first A's manager since La Russa to win back-to-back division crowns

OAKLAND -- The A's Bob Melvin doesn't have the same story to tell as Cleveland's Terry Francona and Boston's John Farrell, both of whom experienced incredible turnarounds in their first season in the manager's chair.

But Melvin's is just as remarkable, which is why he finds himself in their company as this year's candidates for American League Manager of the Year, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The winner will be revealed on Tuesday at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network.

Melvin, who is one of just six managers to have taken home the honor in both leagues, most recently won it last year in Oakland. This could potentially hurt his chances of a repeat victory, but there are several reasons it shouldn't.

Melvin's A's, equipped with a low budget while playing in what was expected to be baseball's toughest division, won 96 games -- just one fewer than Farrell's star-studded Red Sox -- with a grab bag of rookies and misfits.

He put together more than 140 different lineups -- utilizing as many as four platoons at a time -- while guiding the A's to their second consecutive AL West title. Melvin became the first A's manager to lead the club to back-to-back division championships since Tony La Russa won three straight from 1988-90.

Even after reaching the playoffs for the first time in six years in 2012, the A's entered 2013 far from favorites to win the AL West. The Angels and Rangers were expected to battle for the title. But it was Melvin's team -- infused with his own high expectations -- that won the division crown, finishing 5 1/2 games ahead of Texas.

Finding success in small markets isn't as difficult as sustaining it, and Melvin is a big reason why the A's are proving able to do just that.

"He's done an amazing job with this team, and it makes my job easier," said A's general manager Billy Beane. "You don't see me that much because Bob's so capable at what he does. All the parts of the job that you want -- great with the players, good at managing a game -- he does it all brilliantly."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

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