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The promised run through the NL stats:

  • The NL MVP race:
    
                    PA    AVG   OBP   SLG   EqA  RARP  VORP   R  RBI
    Luis Gonzalez  438   .342  .435  .725  .363  58.8  68.6  83   94
    Barry Bonds    403   .290  .474  .778  .399  73.1  75.5  72   78
    


    Barry Bonds still gets my vote, but his slight decline since June at
    least opens the door for Luis Gonzalez. Even with the decline, Bonds
    leads Gonzalez in the important offensive categories as well as in a number
    of more sophisticated metrics. Gonzalez leads Bonds in batting average and
    team-dependent stats.

    As we saw in 1998, having an all-time great season doesn’t mean as much to
    the voters as RBI and good teammates do, so Gonzalez is currently the
    popular favorite. Feh.

  • I hated the Mark Grace signing, as much because Grace has long
    been an overrated player as for what it did to Erubiel Durazo‘s
    career. (Free Erubiel Durazo!) Still, Grace has been one of 2001’s great
    bargains, putting up a .322/.409/.529 line for just $4 million. He’s the
    NL’s fourth-best first baseman, and the only D’back starter other than
    Gonzalez who’s been worth anything. He deserves credit for his performance,
    especially since we’ve been so quick to deride him in the past.

  • Fixing the Braves: swallow the money and platoon Dave Martinez
    (.355/.407/.484 vs. RHP) with Brian Jordan (.329/.393/.605 vs. LHP)
    in right field. Jordan can’t hit right-handers now and hasn’t done so since 1998.

  • Somehow the notion has developed that Ken Griffey Jr. has been a
    huge disappointment since joining the Reds. It hasn’t helped that the
    Mariners have done very well since he arrived, but it seems silly to take
    him to task for his play.

    Despite a subpar batting average and a brutal first half in 2000, he managed
    to be the third-best center fielder in the NL last year, hitting
    .271/.387/.556, for a .291 EqA. Excising the 12 pinch-hit appearances in
    April of this season–when he shouldn’t have been on the roster–he’s
    hitting .285/.367/.537; his .286 EqA ranks him sixth among regular center
    fielders. He’s been the Reds’ best player over the last two years, even
    giving Sean Casey points for durability.

    Griffey has been hurt for much of this season. When he’s been healthy, he’s
    been exactly the player he was before the Reds traded for him. That the
    Mariners have been successful, or the Reds’ starting pitching a joke,
    doesn’t change that.

  • Memo to Dave Dombrowski: Matt Clement and Dusty Wathan to
    the Royals for Jermaine Dye. When you make the playoffs, you’ll
    convince Charles Johnson to stay, so you’ll never miss Wathan, who
    would mean more to the Royals, anyway.

  • Yes, he plays in Enron, but if anyone is going to lay claim to some
    "best hitter in baseball" crown, it’s Lance Berkman. He’s
    hitting .361/.452/.700, which would blend quite nicely into Frank
    Thomas
    ‘s peak. He could break the 400-total-base barrier this season,
    and still has some room for growth from the right side (a 945 OPS, vs. 1199
    as a left-handed batter).

    For what it’s worth, Berkman is hitting .381/.472/.792 on the road this
    season.

  • Jeffrey Hammonds, 2001: 174 at-bats, 739 OPS, six home runs, 14
    walks, -1 net steals, one season-ending injury, $7 million.

    Just how hard could it have been to see this coming, Dean?

  • Bad backs don’t go away. The Mets need to send Edgardo Alfonzo
    home and tell him to not do a damn thing baseball-related until February.
    Their season is over, and their hopes for 2002 rely heavily on a healthy
    Alfonzo. He may never reach his peak again–neither Don Mattingly nor
    Jose Canseco were ever the same–but playing for a lost cause isn’t
    going to help him get back there.

  • Jimmy Anderson, who shut out the Cardinals for eight innings on
    Sunday, is a ton of fun to watch. He’s going to bounce up and down for a
    while, but if there’s any young pitcher now who projects as a Jamie
    Moyer
    type–so-so in his twenties, great in his thirties–it’s him.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
clicking here.

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