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Pirates’ Hurdle finishes 2nd to Nationals’ Williams in NL Manager of the Year voting

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Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle watches action from the dugout during the National League wild-card game against the Giants on Oct. 1, 2014, at PNC Park.

The Pirates’ Clint Hurdle was the runner-up for National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, with the Washington Nationals’ Matt Williams taking home the honor in his first year on the job.

The other finalist for the award was the San Francisco Giants’ Bruce Bochy, who finished third in voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

“It was a tremendous honor to be one of the three finalists for NL Manager of the Year, along with Bruce Bochy and Matt Williams,” Hurdle said in a statement. “Matt did an outstanding job with his club this past season and is very deserving of this award. Congratulations to Matt Williams and the entire Washington organization.”

Williams, whose Nationals won the NL East and finished with a 96-66 record, received 18 first-place votes and a total of 109 points. Hurdle got eight first-place votes and 80 points. In the American League, Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter won the award for the third time, edging Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels and Ned Yost of the AL champion Kansas City Royals.

Williams became the fourth manager to win in his first year. Joe Girardi had been the most recent to do it, with the Marlins in 2006.

A hard-nosed player and five-time All-Star over 17 seasons, Williams was coaching third base for the Arizona Diamondbacks when he was hired by Washington.

“Not having the experience of being there before, but you can rely on folks,” he said.

Williams credited his players for the award, saying, “These guys made my transition easy.”

The Nationals had hoped to contend for the World Series title in 2013 under Davey Johnson, and they came into this season with high expectations. Some people predicted they would take the crown, which often can dampen a manager’s chances of winning this award.

Williams stressed fundamentals from the start of spring training and worked on creative defensive alignments. His biggest stamp might have come in late April when he benched young star Bryce Harper in the middle of a game for failing to run out a grounder.

The 48-year-old Williams kept the Nationals on track despite injuries to Doug Fister, Ryan Zimmerman and several other stars, and Washington won the NL East by a whopping 17 games, the biggest margin in the majors.

“It’s a great moment for the guys,” he said. “It takes a village.”

The Nationals lost to the Giants in four games in the NL Division Series.

Hurdle led the Pirates to an 88-74 record and a second-place finish in the NL Central, two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

He was named the 2013 NL Manager of the Year after guiding the Pirates to a 94-68 record. It was the first time a Pirates manager had won the award since Jim Leyland claimed the honor for the second time in 1992.

The Pirates have a record of 333-315 in four seasons under Hurdle, who was named the team’s manager Nov. 10, 2010.

In the AL, Showalter received 25 of 30 first-place votes and 132 points. He won the award with the New York Yankees in 1994 and Texas Rangers in 2004.

Scioscia was second with four firsts and 61 points, and Yost third with 41 points. Seattle’s Lloyd McClendon, who managed the Pirates from 2001-05, was fourth with 29 points.

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