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Francona, Hurdle named managers of the year

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Updated: 11/12/2013 5:06 pm

(SportsNetwork.com) - Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle said they had a lot of help leading their teams back to the postseason after long absences.

Francona spoke about the players and personnel around him. Hurdle talked about leading by example.

On Tuesday, both were recognized for their accomplishments when they were honored as the top managers in the major leagues.

Francona, in his first season with the Cleveland Indians, was named American League Manager of the Year after leading them to their first postseason berth in six years.

Hurdle was named the National League's top manager in his third season with the Pittsburgh Pirates after leading a 15-win improvement that landed them their first winning record and playoff appearance since 1992.

Both managers were live on MLB Network when the announcements were made by Jack O'Connell of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"It gives me a chance to brag about our organization," Francona said. "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."

In a close vote, Francona beat out John Farrell of the Red Sox, who guided a worst-to-first resurgence in his first season in Boston, leading to a World Series title. (The awards are voted on prior to the postseason, so Boston's championship wasn't a factor.)

Francona garnered 16 of the 30 first-place votes from baseball writers and 112 points overall. Farrell received 12 first-place votes and 96 points and 2012 winner Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics had two first-place votes and 36 points.

Francona took over a 94-loss team and guided it to a 92-70 record and second place in the AL Central behind the Detroit Tigers. The Indians were shut out in the AL wild-card game by the Tampa Bay Rays, but their in-season turnaround was undeniable.

It was the first time Francona, 54, received first-place votes in AL balloting despite leading the Red Sox to two World Series titles. He is only the second Indians manager ever to win the award after Eric Wedge in 2007.

Francona, who got his managerial start with the Philadelphia Phillies, parted ways with the Red Sox in 2011 after the team finished an epic collapse to miss the postseason for the second straight year.

There were problems on and off the field in Boston that Francona's successful tenure there couldn't overcome, but he found work again with the Indians after one season away from the game.

"Even on good teams there's a lot of challenges that come every day but between the front office ... and especially the players, this was one of the funnest years I've ever had," said Francona. "We didn't get to our end goal, but we're getting there and I think we have fun doing it."

Though he managed the most successful Pirates season in more than two decades, Hurdle said no one person can change the culture of a team.

"Every day when my feet hit the ground, I say I'm going to model the proper behavior that I want my guys to have," he said on MLB Network.

The Pirates went 94-68, finished second in the NL Central behind the St. Louis Cardinals and beat the Cincinnati Reds in the wild-card game. They lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS.

Hurdle, 56, topped Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves for the award.

He received 25 first-place votes and 140 points overall to top Mattingly, who garnered two first-place votes and 68 points. Gonzalez had three first-place votes but only four second-place votes to Mattingly's 17. Gonzalez finished with 43 points.

Hurdle was the second Pittsburgh manager to win the award after Jim Leyland, who was honored in 1990 and '92.

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