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Maddon, Gibson front-runners for Manager of Year

The Baseball Writers' Association of America will continue to hand out their postseason awards on Wednesday when they name both the American and National League Managers of the Year.

It figures to be cut and dry in each league, as Tampa's Joe Maddon and Arizona's Kirk Gibson both appear to be heavy favorites.

After an offseason that saw the Rays lose the likes of Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza, expectations were a bit tempered for Maddon's club entering the 2011 campaign, especially after the team opened the year with six straight losses.

However, Maddon, a 2008 winner of this award, showed why he is considered one of the best managers in the game, as the Rays rallied from a nine-game deficit in early September to overtake the Boston Red Sox in the wild card standings on the season's final day and ended the year 91-71.

Among Maddon's chief competitors for this award will be Cleveland's Manny Acta, who led the Indians to 80 wins after going 69-93 the previous season. However, since the award's inception in 1983, Joe Girardi is the only one to win this award with a sub-.500 record. He won the National League honor in 2006 after posting a 78-84 season with the Florida Marlins.

Detroit's Jim Leyland, a three-time winner, and Texas' Ron Washington should also get some consideration along with Girardi, whose Yankees won an AL-best 97 games.

While the vote may be a bit tighter in the AL, Gibson should be a runaway winner for the NL award.

After back-to-back 90-loss seasons and two last-place finishes, the Diamondbacks came out of nowhere to the win the National League West and did so rather easily, as they held the top spot from August 10 on and pulled away from the San Francisco Giants late to win the division by eight games.

The D'Backs took on the identity of Gibson to win 94 games, their highest total since winning 98 way back in 2002.

Should he win Gibson would join Bob Melvin (2007) as the only Arizona managers to claim this award.

Philadelphia skipper Charlie Manuel, who guided the Phillies to a franchise- best 102 wins should also nab some votes. Others likely to be considered include Milwaukee's Ron Roenicke and recently retired St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who, like Maddon, made a late push towards the postseason that ended with the Cardinals' 11th World Series title.

THE SPORTS NETWORK PICK: AL MANAGER - JOE MADDON, TAMPA BAY

NL MANAGER - KIRK GIBSON, ARIZONA