September 13, 2000
The Daily Prospectus
He won't set any home-run records this season, nor will he get close. He's not going to be the MVP, and it would be hard to argue that he's enjoyed this season as much as the last two. Nevertheless, this is probably the best season of Sammy Sosa's career. Yup. Better than his award-winning, crowd-pleasing 1998, and better than his 63-bomb followup in 1999.
Sosa is currently posting a .347 Equivalent Average, blowing away his 1998 peak of .324. That number is sixth in the National League; he's also tops in Equivalent Runs and third in runs above position, despite playing a position that may be the best-hitting in the game right now.
Sosa's offensive game has better balance than it has in years. While his home runs and home-run rate are down a bit, the power hasn't been lost: he has already set a career high in doubles with 35, and is approaching his total of two-baggers for 1998 and 1999 combined. His batting average, OBP and slugging percentage are all career highs, as are his walks and walk rate.
While Sosa's defense has been called in to question in some places, his performance hasn't actually slipped much. His Range Factor and Zone Rating are in the middle of the pack among NL regular right fielders; he's not Mark Kotsay, but neither is he the sloth many people made him out to be during the Ides of June.
It's interesting. Two years ago, Sosa was awarded an MVP he didn't deserve because Kerry Wood and Mickey Morandini had good years, helping the Cubs get to 90 wins and a brief postseason appearance. This year, he's one of the four or five best players in the league and I bet he doesn't crack the top ten in the voting.
He'll be as high on my ballot as he's ever been, and I really am impressed by how he's played in a season when it seemed everyone turned on him. Sosa also had none of the motivators, the pennant race and the home-run chase(s) he'd had in 1998 and 1999. Kudos, Sammy.
Joe Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com.