Five managers who directed their teams to division titles and one who shocked many prognostications by earning a Wild Card berth are competing for the 2016 Manager of the Year Awards, which will be announced tonight on MLB Network at 6 ET.
In the National League, the finalists in the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting all finished first during the regular season: Dusty Baker of the Nationals, Joe Maddon of the Cubs and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.
In the American League, Terry Francona of the Indians and Jeff Banister of the Rangers are joined by Buck Showalter, whose Orioles came into the season with few outside expectations, but spent 111 days leading the AL East.
The voting was conducted before the postseason began. So the fact that Maddon's Cubs went on to win the franchise's first World Series championship in 108 years will not be a factor. Nor will Francona's masterful moves that helped an injury-depleted roster make it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series, or that Showalter was second-guessed for not using dominant closer Zach Britton in an extra-inning AL Wild Card Game loss to the Blue Jays.
Maddon and Banister each won the Manager of the Year Award last season, so they would become just the second -- or second and third -- managers to win in back-to-back seasons since the award was initiated in 1983. Bobby Cox of the Braves took home the hardware in 2004 and '05.
Cox and Tony La Russa are the only managers whom have been honored by the BBWAA four times, but Showalter (2014 Orioles, '04 Rangers, 1994 Yankees), Baker (1993, '97, '00 Giants) and Maddon ('08, '11 Rays; '15 Cubs) could each match that this year. Francona ('13 Indians) and Banister have each won once previously, while Roberts was a rookie manager this year.
If how the team fared compared to its Pythagorean record -- wins based on run differential -- is used as a measuring stick, Banister easily lapped the field. The Rangers went 95-67, a remarkable 13 wins better than their projection. Showalter was next at plus-5.
All that matters, though, is what the voters decided. Tune in tonight to find out.
Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET with the MLB Awards. Categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager, and recognize overall MLB winners with no league distinction.