Jim Leyland, who helped turn the Pittsburgh Pirates into contenders and guided them through the pressure of a pennant race, was named National League manager of the year yesterday by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Leyland took a team that went 74-88, fifth in the NL East in 1989, to a division championship at 95-67 in 1990. The Pirates overcame the New York Mets to finish with the second-best record in baseball.

The Pirates had Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla for offense, but did not have a set starting rotation or a relief ace. Leyland juggled his staff and got victories from 18 pitchers.

He drew 17 of the 24 first-place votes and 99 points on a 5-3-1 tally for first-, second- and third-place votes. Lou Piniella, who led Cincinnati to the World Series championship in his first season with the Reds, got three first-place votes and 49 points. Montreal's Buck Rodgers also got three firsts and a tie at 32 points with Los Angeles' Tom Lasorda, who received the other first.

"This is kind of like icing on the cake for this season," Leyland said. "But I still wish I was in the position Lou Piniella was."