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Using those standards, the favorite for the award right now is likely Ron Roenicke, the Milwaukee Brewers manager, who has his team on top of the tough NL Central Division, ahead of three other playoff contenders — the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.

There is an inherent belief that can’t be ignored that the Dodgers, with their astronomical $235 million talent-laden team, are right where they should be. But the Brewers, in a division with the Cardinals and Reds, are considered an underdog, with a payroll of less than half what the Dodgers have spent — $103 million.

But what about Matt Williams and the Nationals?

Washington was picked by many observers to be one of the NL playoff favorites going into the season. The expectations were high — even with a first-year manager. So one could make the similar argument against Williams that you could against Mattingly — he’s got the team where it should be. While the Brewers were expected to compete, no one would have said with conviction they expected Roenicke’s squad to be where the Cardinals are typically — on top of the NL Central.

But the burdens put on Williams shoulders to get this Nationals team where it is now — with one of the best records in the NL, comfortably on top of the division — put him right there with Roenicke.

This rookie manager lost most of his lineup to injuries at various points throughout this season — his starting catcher, Wilson Ramos; his young superstar outfielder, Bryce Harper; and, several times, the face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman — yet never changed his demeanor, never showed a sense of panic, and kept this team, patched up at times, where it was supposed to be.

And, speaking of Harper, we only saw the “Big Marine” — Williams‘ nickname during his playing days as a demanding, hard-nosed teammate — surface once, with the benching of Harper for not hustling. As things turned out, Williams has managed the young, sometimes, struggling superstar with the right touch of tough love and support.

With 35 games left to go in this season, one of the two managers may struggle enough to fall out of favor, or a new candidate may emerge with a September run. But right now, Matt Williams is a candidate for NL Manager of the Year — which is a win for Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and