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Here's to the skippers: BBWAA set to toast managers

Farrell, Francona, Melvin finalists in AL; Hurdle, Gonzalez, Mattingly up for award in NL

There are only 30 of these jobs in the world. Six of the best at it know they are in contention, but only two will walk away with Manager of the Year hardware for 2013.

Baseball's top skippers will be honored tonight with the announcement of Manager of the Year awards in each league, the second stop on this week's tour through the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America awards. The Manager of the Year for each league will be revealed in a special show on MLB Network at 6 ET.

Boston's John Farrell, Cleveland's Terry Francona and Oakland's Bob Melvin are the finalists in the American League. Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez, Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle and the Dodgers' Don Mattingly are the final trio in the National League.

All 30 Major League managers have one common goal of getting the most out of their teams, creating the right mix, day in and day out. Whoever did that to the highest degree in the eyes of the BBWAA electorate will be able to add the highest honor of his profession to what already was a successful season.

In the AL, it's the architect of an amazing turnaround, a steady guide in a return to the postseason and last year's winner who are in the mix. Melvin was able to lead the A's to an even better regular season than their stunning 2012 campaign, but he'll be hard-pressed to become the first back-to-back winner in the AL since the award began in 1983.

Farrell guided a Red Sox team that had gone way off course in 2012 right back to the top of the AL East, helping set the tone for a team that had a lot of change -- starting at the top of the dugout steps.

"He said we're going to be as well or better prepared than anyone," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "He made it about the players, held them to a high standard but empowering them at the same time."

The result: By winning 28 more games than the year before, the Sox made history with their turnaround -- and that was before they went all the way to win their third World Series title in the last 10 seasons.

Francona, the man at the helm of those glory years in Boston, gave the Indians a push all the way into the Wild Card Game, showing Cleveland the route to the postseason after several false starts in recent years. Leading the way to a 24-win improvement from '12, Francona was part of an extensive offseason makeover -- a big part, obviously.

"It was evident last offseason, as we were talking to free agents," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said, "how much people and players wanted to play for Tito."

In the NL, it's hard to miss Hurdle, the man who led the Pirates to their first postseason appearance since 1992. A passionate skipper who can run off self-help quotables with the best of them, Hurdle clearly had his finger on the pulse of a team that needed to get over the hump -- and did, with Blackout conditions in October the result.

"He's very optimistic, and that's a big key," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "It's hard to be as optimistic and as positive as he always is every single day."

Gonzalez led the Braves to a runaway title in the NL East over the Nationals led by last year's winner, Davey Johnson (who, by the way, won't become the first NL back-to-back winner since Atlanta's Bobby Cox in 2004-05). And Mattingly held together a team in transition with an influx of stars and personalities, and after a rough start, he guided it to a remarkably successful summer and a wide margin of victory in the NL West.

The presentation of Manager of the Year honors will mark the second of four straight days of BBWAA awards, all televised on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET through Thursday. This week's awards schedule:

Monday: Rookie of the Year
American League: Wil Myers, Rays. Runner-up: Jose Iglesias, Tigers.

National League: Jose Fernandez, Marlins. Runner-up: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers.

Tuesday: Manager of the Year
AL finalists: John Farrell, Red Sox; Terry Francona, Indians; Bob Melvin, A's.

NL finalists: Fredi Gonzalez, Braves; Clint Hurdle, Pirates; Don Mattingly, Dodgers.

Wednesday: Cy Young Award
AL finalists: Yu Darvish, Rangers; Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners; Max Scherzer, Tigers.

NL finalists: Fernandez, Marlins; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Adam Wainwright, Cardinals.

Thursday: Most Valuable Player
AL finalists: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; Chris Davis, Orioles; Mike Trout, Angels.

NL finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs; McCutchen, Pirates; Yadier Molina, Cardinals.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for