NL Pirates’ Hurdle, AL Indians’ Francona Voted Top MLB Managers

Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians were selected as Major League Baseball’s managers of the year.

The Cy Young Award winners for pitching excellence will be announced tonight. Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners and Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers are finalists for the AL award. Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals are vying for the National League title.

Hurdle, 56, won his first National League Manager of the Year award by leading the Pirates into the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

Francona, 54, guided the Indians to a 92-70 record in his first year in Cleveland, a 24-win improvement from 2012. He was fired by the Red Sox in 2011 after Boston suffered the worst September collapse in MLB history and missed the postseason.

“It gives me a chance to brag about our organization,” Francona told reporters yesterday. “When you get an award like this it’s a representation of the organization. I’ll gladly accept it, but it’s for all these people.”

The Pirates went 94-68 this year, ending a streak of 20 straight losing seasons, and won the NL wild-card playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds before losing a five-game divisional series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hurdle’s Pirates won 15 more games in 2013 than the previous season.

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Hurdle, who has led the Pirates to a 245-241 record the last three seasons, came to Pittsburgh after compiling a 534-625 mark in eight years with the Colorado Rockies. He finished third in the NL Manager of the Year balloting in 2007 after leading the Rockies to the league pennant.

Hurdle got 25 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He was selected over Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves, who got three first-place votes, and Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who got two. Overall, Hurdle had 140 points, followed by Mattingly with 68 and Gonzalez with 43.

Hurdle, whose playing career included three stints with the New York Mets in the 1980s, was interviewed by the Mets for their managerial opening after the 2010 season before accepting an offer from the Pirates. The Mets hired Terry Collins.

After getting fired by the Red Sox, Francona took a one-year break from managing to work as a baseball analyst for ESPN. He was hired by the Indians after the dismissal of manager Manny Acta and produced a team that captured the AL’s top wild-card spot for its first trip to the postseason in six years.

Cleveland had lost 94 games in 2012. Excluding strike-shortened seasons, it tied the largest one-year wins increase in franchise history.

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Since 1969, Francona’s name was added to a list of 10 managers who had a year-over-year improvement of at least 24 wins in his first season.

Francona, who guided the Red Sox to World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, has won at least 86 games in nine consecutive seasons, the sixth-longest streak in baseball history and the longest among active managers.

Francona worked in the Indians’ front office in 2001 and his father, Tito, played for the team from 1959 to 1964.

Francona edged John Farrell of the World Series-winning Red Sox by 16 points for the award. He had 16 first-place votes among his 112 points, while Farrell had 12 first-place votes and 96 points. Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics, the 2012 winner of the AL award, had two first-place votes and 36 points.

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