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June 10, 1998

BP Polling: Greg Spira's Ballot

by Greg Spira

Top Ten Teams

1. NY Yankees: Incredibly deep team which can afford to lose almost anybody because their talent base. They will run away with the division.

2. Atlanta Braves - Same old story. What will we tell our grandchildren about this starting staff?

3. San Diego Padres - Last year the pitching staff pitched so much worse than could be reasonably expected that it's no surprise that they've started off so strong this season.

4. Cleveland Indians - Little pitching, but they have enough hitting to beat up enough opponents so that the rest of their weak division might as well put up the surrender flag

5. Boston Red Sox - Great start, but they need another starter

6. Houston Astros - Unlike last year, this team has been more than Biggio & Bagwell.

7. NY Mets - Pitching staff has been great, and Piazza's bat will help what was a moribund offense.

8. Texas Rangers - Great so far, but the pitching will inevitably head south.

9. San Francisco Giants - Bonds' zillionth great year in a row. Bill Mueller having a superior year. But summer is not the time for Snow anymore.

10. Chicago Cubs - The team has gotten a woody, but it'll be hard to keep it up.

Most Valuable Player

National League

1. Mark McGwire: What is there left to say about McGwire? Yeah, he's slow, and he's not as agile around first as he was when he was younger. But he's created more than 75 runs in only 2 months.

2. Chipper Jones - Breakout season for the former #1 pick, a year later than I expected. Has turned out a lot better than Todd Van Poppel.

3. Moises Alou - Very surprising great start in the Astrodome.

4. Craig Biggio - As usual, the best leadoff hitter in the league.

5. Barry Bonds - Having had his best month in several years in May, Bonds has dragged the Giants into contention again.

American League

1. Ivan Rodriguez - When a catcher with his arm is the best offensive player in the league, there shouldn't be a second thought.

2. Alex Rodriguez - Has produced more offense in two months than many shortstops produce in their careers.

3. Easley - OK, so last year he really was for real. What the hell happened? How did he go from an offensive non-entity with the Angels to a star with the Tigers? Are they feeding him whatever they fed Tony Phillips when he came to the Tigers and underwent a similar, though not quite as drastic, conversion?

4. Griffey - ho hum. Usual Griffey year.

5. B Williams - As usual, the NY press is ignoring Williams, touting Jeter, who is having a fine year himself, as the Yankees MVP candidate.

Cy Young Award

National League

1. Greg Maddux - So what if this isn't an original pick. Would you prefer Elmer Fudd? Even superlatives are now superfluous for Maddux.

2. Andy Ashby - His innings are part of what have kept the Padres riding high so far.

3. Al Leiter - His trade to the Mets was almost ignored, but it was his loss that really dealt the final, irrevocable blow to the Marlins' pitching staff this winter. No reason to think he can't have another year like he had in 1996.

American League

1. Chuck Finley

2. Hideki Irabu - The jokes have stopped and the pitching has begun. But I still don't see the Nolan Ryan comparison. He's as much the "Japanese Nolan Ryan" as Jeffrey Hammonds was the "next Rickey Henderson."

3. Pedro Martinez - Great start, but has struggled recently with gopher balls.

Rookie of the Year

National League

1. Masato Yoshii - Not the best story, but the best rookie so far.

2. Kerry Wood - Where did his control problems go when he came up to the majors?

3. Dave Delucci - Despite being the Diamondbacks' best outfielder, Delluci inexplicably did not earn a starting job at the beginning of the season, but his cream has risen to the top

American League

1. Ben Grieve - An astonishingly good hitter. Anybody who complains at this stage of his career about his lack of power should be shot.

2. Rolando Arrojo - Tampa wins this bet. Probably the most valuable expansion player so far this season.

3. Mike Caruso - Has survived the long jump to the major leagues successfully, though his strike zone judgement looks disturbingly like his predecesors'.

Managers of the Year

National League

1. Larry Dierker - Dierker recently did a chat on ESPN Sportszone and, quite amazingly, he answered questions with completed sentences which included direct answers to the questions asked. On the field, he's used a lot of spare parts successfully to keep his Astros playing well.

2. Bobby Valentine - Has kept a team with a very weak lineup in wild card contention

3. Bobby Cox - Gotta give him some credit here. One way or another, the Braves win.

American League

1. Joe Torre - Has the parts, and hasn't messed up

2. Johnny Oates - Has the Rangers eating their wheaties

3. Tim Johnson - Not Cito Gaston.

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