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August 28, 1998

BP Balloting: Chris Kahrl's Ballot

by Christina Kahrl

TOP TEN TEAMS

  1. Yankees

  2. Astros

  3. Braves

  4. Padres

  5. Red Sox

  6. Mets

  7. Indians

  8. Cubs

  9. Angels

  10. Rangers
Its probably just me, but I'll take the Astros' combination of power, patience, pitching, defense, managing, you name it, over the tried-and-true Braves. Since I'm expecting the Mets to stay in front of the Cubs for a wildcard, I don't expect a three-and-out matchup between the Braves and Astros this time around. That isn't to say that the Braves aren't built to be the better team over 162 games. I cooked my list in anticipation of who I think can advance once they're in the postseason, which is why you can probably drop the Cubs entirely. Over in the AL, once the season ends, all bets are off as to who can do what or wind up where. Yes, the Yankees are easy favorites, but the Indians' pitching is much stronger than least year's almost-champs, and who even knows which roster the Angels will be playing with in two weeks, but at least the Rangers-Angels race should be old-fashioned fun down the stretch.

THREE MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAMS

  1. Blue Jays

  2. Mariners

  3. Marlins
These are the teams I'm disappointed with, as opposed to teams like the Orioles or Dodgers.

In Toronto, the way they goofed off in the outfield as far as allotting playing time was pathetic, signing three veteran second basemen a waste. A season where you combine an extremely heavy burden on your rotation with a goofy determination to cram multiple DHs into the lineup, to make that burden even heavier, does not bode well for much future success. The Mariners get to take their honored place with the '88 Yankees in Mt. Piniella's showcase of seasons where he his eruptions had a tremendously negative effect on his team's performance, flubbing nearly ever decision he had to make in terms of usage patterns, roster makeup, you name it. And the Marlins? I'm not alone in being pretty disappointed in Mark Kotsay (not that I'm giving up on him), or that they've let Jim Leyland lay waste to a young crop of starting pitchers. At least they're finally leaving Derrek Lee alone, but I fear that what happened did this year will have an bad effect on the team's future.

AL MVP

  1. Alex Rodriguez, Mariners
  2. Bernie Williams, Yankees
  3. Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox
  4. Albert Belle, White Sox
  5. Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
The argument about who the best player in the league might be would be much more interesting if Williams or Garciaparra had stayed healthy for the entire season. Belle's leading the league in slugging while hitting in the best pitcher's park in the league, but gets nary a mention ahead of some guy who can't even eat his own candy bar?

NL MVP

  1. Mark McGwire, Cardinals
  2. Craig Biggio, Astros
  3. Barry Bonds, Giants
  4. Sammy Sosa, Cubs
  5. Chipper Jones, Braves
I'll hitch my wagon to the "big ol' stats" argument for Big Red, but it seems a shame to pass so quickly over several others. Biggio is having an outstanding season, and without Bonds, I don't think the Giants could stay in front of Arizona.

AL Cy Young

  1. Pedro Martinez, Red Sox
  2. Roger Clemens, Blue Jays
  3. David Wells, Yankees
  4. Kenny Rogers, Athletics
  5. Chuck Finley, Angels
Nothing shocking here, although a good five weeks, and Clemens could swipe the award back. Wells over Finley or Rogers? Who has the lowest batters' OBP, without it being particularly close? It isn't like he's pitching in a great pitcher's park. Give Jumbo his due, great run support or no.

NL GREG MADDUX

  1. who else?
  2. Kevin Brown, Padres
  3. Andy Ashby, Padres
  4. Tom Glavine, Braves
  5. Curt Schilling, Phillies
In a world where the great one doesn't exist, we have fun arguments about the relative merits of the wonderful seasons Brown, Ashby, or Glavine are having. We don't get to do that. The only tough choice, in my opinion, was tabbing Schilling over Al Leiter, but that was a question of starts and innings, and Schilling deserves recognition for toiling on a team saddled with some pretty crummy regulars.

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

  1. Ben Grieve, Athletics
  2. Mike Caruso, White Sox
  3. El Duque, Yankees
Grieve's going through a miserable stretch, but that doesn't erase a season where he's shown up as a great offensive player. Caruso may surprise some of you. Yes, he doesn't walk much, and no, he never has. Even so, as a 21-year old without any experience above A-ball, he's put up the fifth-best OBP among AL shortstops, and good range afield. El Duque walked onto the greatest major league team and has probably bumped Hideki Irabu to long relief on the postseason roster. The shocker here is pop goes the Arrojo. He isn't even dominating right-handers any longer. He's tired, and the D-Rays aren't even playing for pride at this point; they should shut him down.

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

  1. Kerry Wood, Cubs
  2. Travis Lee, Diamondbacks
  3. Steve Woodard, Brewers
Historic performances aside, without Wood, the Cubs wouldn't be in the wildcard hunt at all. I've been impressed with what Lee has done despite limited professional experience, and although Todd Helton has better numbers right now, between Helton, Lee, and Derrek Lee, for the next couple of years I expect Travis to be the best of the lot (with Derrek being the best in terms of career value). Woodard has been laboring in relative anonymity, but he's having a good season despite awful run support.

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR

  1. Joe Torre, Yankees
  2. Jimy Williams, Red Sox
  3. Mike Hargrove, Indians
As sympathetic as I might be to give it to Jimy Williams because he has to endure Dan Duquette's constant (and frequently pointless) roster reshuffling, Torre deserves to reap the lion's share of the credit for doing the things good managers do: use his players to their best advantage, and deflect attention. Mike Hargrove gets credit for not screwing up. That may sound flippant, but 'Grover' has never driven his team over a cliff like some people I could mention.

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR

  1. Larry Dierker, Houston
  2. Bobby Valentine, Mets
  3. Bobby Cox, Braves
Dierker spends plenty of time poor-mouthing himself, but he provides a clear distinction between Terry Collins' inability to win with a good team, and his ability to help make it slightly better. He deserves a share of the credit for a team that seen so many player turnarounds or successful usage patterns. I'll be honest, I don't know how Valentine does it, but once again he's competing despite a weak lineup, a shaky rotation, and Mel Rojas.

AL LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER

Jaime Navarro, White Sox

Mike Wolverton can say what he want about Todd Van Poppel, but this is what can happen if TVP tries to take his game to another level.

NL LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER

Gregg Jefferies, Phillies

Whereas Lenny Dykstra may be the Phillies' player of the decade, in that his triumphs and failures reflected the fortunes of the organization, those failures are what helped to bring the good people of Philly a punchless, gloveless left fielder.

Other Ballots
Dave Pease
Steven Rubio
Joe Sheehan
Greg Spira
Michael Wolverton

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

Related Content:  The Who,  Managers Of The Year

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