Bobby Cox, who led the Toronto Blue Jays to the AL East title and then left to be general manager of the Atlanta Braves, is the American League manager of the year, says the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Cox received 16 first-place ballots and 104 points from a 28-voter panel composed of two writers from each of the league's 14 franchise cities. Dick Howser of the champion Kansas City Royals placed second with four firsts and 63 points. Gene Mauch of California was third with eight firsts and 57 points and Billy Martin, ex-New York Yankees, fourth with 19 points . . .

The Pittsburgh Pirates are set to name a general manager this morning, and KDKA-TV reported he will be Syd Thrift, operator of a real estate agency in Vienna, Va. Thrift hasn't held a full-time baseball job since directing minor league operations for the Oakland A's in 1975 and 1976, but he gained a measure of prominence as director of the innovative Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy in Sarasota, Fla., in the early 1970s. Earlier, he was a scout for the Pirates . . .

The State of Kansas waived the vision test for the Royals' George Brett, applying for a new driver's license because his expired -- in May. "If he can hit .350 (actually .335)," said an official, "we figured he could see."