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Top Ten Teams

1. Atlanta Braves: All this, without particularly sterling performances from
Andruw Jones or John Smoltz. Wow.

2. New York Yankees: Depth, walks, power, a nasty bullpen, and rotation. This
is what the Baltimore Orioles had in mind — they just did it with old, bad
players.

3. Houston Astros: Rotation depth is amazing. Not many teams could have lost
Holt and Garcia and still burned it up like this, especially considering Scott
Elarton wasn’t part of the mix. Will drop off somewhat.

4. Cleveland Indians: Everyone knew their pitching would be weak. Like it
matters with an offense like this. Once the hitters get hot, and they scrape
up some league average starter from somewhere, they’ll leave the division in
the dust.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers: The additions of Bonilla and Sheffield certainly makes
the defense more interesting to watch. Valdes may not rebound, but Reyes is
ready.

6. Seattle Mariners: Ken Cloude’s recent Kerry Wood imitation is an indicator
of things to come. If Buhner’s healthy and they can get a solid LF for Johnson,
along with another starting pitcher, Texas’ll be 10 games back in September.

7. Anaheim Angels: Finley’s not this good. How long until Glaus plays 3B,
Hollins moves over to 1B, and Salmon’s fascia completely McGwires?

8. San Diego Padres: Joey Hamilton may never figure it out. I’ve come to the
conclusion that Steve Finley plus Greg Vaughn must always necessarily be a
constant.

9. Chicago Cubs: Trachsel, Tapani, Wood, Gonzalez, Clark is an awfully solid
rotation, and the offense has been walking…or at least it was early in the
season.

10. Boston Red Sox: How often are a team’s offensive holes concentrated in
easier places to fix? A couple of solid OFs for Mo Vaughn?

Most Disappointing Teams

1. Cincinnati Reds: I expected much more from Gabe White than he’s shown, and
the lackluster offensive performances have more than offset the pleasant
surprises of Bret Boone’s temporary rebirth and Eddie Taubensee’s addiction
to hard line drives.

2. San Francisco Giants. The Giants disappoint me every time they win a game.
These guys are playing way over their heads, and it makes me ill.
Hopefully, the offending parties, specifically Bill Mueller and Orel
Hershiser, will soon return to earth, and the Giants will pursue their
birthright of 120 losses.

3. Florida Marlins. Yes, I know, everyone and their brother’s been shipped out
of town for Walt McKeel, and this is the greatest tragedy ever to hit modern
baseball. But still — these guys have more talent than this, still. I might
be the only BP author who doesn’t think much of Todd Dunwoody, but
other than that, there is a lot of GOOD young talent here. Not Andruw
Jones-good, but Mark Kotsay-good isn’t a bad thing. They’ve underperformed.

MVP: NL: 1. Mark McGwire

2. Chipper Jones

3. Jason Kendall

4. Barry Bonds

5. John Olerud

AL: 1. Alex Rodriguez

2. Ivan Rodriguez

3. Damion Easley

4. Bernie Williams

5. Derek Jeter

Mark McGwire could be a DH with a permanent courtesy runner and still be the
clear choice. Jones and Kendall are a wash, and could easily be swapped.
No matter how you slice it, there’s approximately two great seasons in toto
listed above. Congratulations to Damion Easley on convincing the alien to
stay.

CY: NL: 1. Greg Maddux 2. Al Leiter 3. Curt Schilling

AL: 1. Pedro Martinez 2. Chuck Finley 3. Hideki Irabu

Al Leiter stands out as the biggest surprise in this group, and somewhere
along the line, I expect him to lose the strike zone and become mortal
again. Of course, with umpiring these days, he may start getting the
Glavine/Key strike zone, in which case you can look for him to post about a
1.80 ERA for the rest of his career.

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