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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

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