TOP TEN TEAMS
- Red Sox
No real surprises. Cleveland is where you’d expect them, but that’s
by default. They haven’t played good baseball since May. The Oriole
run is a nice story, but it’s over. I still think Seattle’s got one
big push left in them, same as in 1995, when they won, and 1996, when
the made up eight games in nine days but fell short.
The gap between San Diego and the Mets is roughly equivalent to
that between whatever Karl Ravech just said and reality. San
Diego and Houston will now be classified as "large market", which
will finally be accurate characterizations.
THREE MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAMS
- Blue Jays
- Bernie Williams, Yankees
- Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox
- Ken Griffey, Jr., Mariners
- Alex Rodriguez, Mariners
- Jim Thome, Indians
Three of the top five candidates have missed significant time
this year, making this a very difficult race to call. When
healthy, Bernie and Nomar have played well above the league.
Ivan Rodriguez since June 1: .282/.308/.380
- Mark McGwire, Cardinals
- Chipper Jones, Braves
- Craig Biggio, Astros
- Sammy Sosa, Cubs
- Moises Alou, Astros
I don’t care if you’re defensively challenged at DH: if you are near
a 1.300 OPS, you’re the MVP. Mac is a fair defensive first
baseman, and hits like, well, Babe Ruth. Chipper will have his
turn again, and after that, it gets murky. Credit to Alou: he’s
improved his game in every way the past few years. Jason Kendall
is the new "Best Player No One Knows About", having the best year
of any catcher in the league and just outside the list above.
AL CY YOUNG
- Pedro Martinez, Red Sox
- Roger Clemens, Blue Jays
- Chuck Finley, Angels
- Bartolo Colon, Indians
- Kenny Rogers, Athletics
All those who had those last two names in their AL Cy Young
office pool raise your hands. This is going to be a fantastic
race down the stretch, both pitchers grabbing for a piece
of history (Pedro: Cys in two leagues; Rocket: Cy #5, a
new record); I’m betting on Clemens: he has the better chance
to rack up shutouts, CGs and innings, as Williams is likely to
baby Pedro a bit down the stretch.
NL CY YOUNG
- Greg Maddux, Braves
- Kevin Brown, Padres
- Andy Ashby, Padres
- Tom Glavine, Braves
- Robb Nen, Giants
That #5 slot is a bear, so we’ll call the Nen vote a compromise.
Al Leiter’s got a good case. Maddux is still the favorite, but after
the past two weeks, he’s not the lock he once appeared to be. Brown
is within .5 of ERA and close enough everywhere else that you can’t
just hand the award to My Favorite Pitcher.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
- Ben Grieve, Athletics
- Rolando Arrojo, Devil Rays
- Bobby Smith, Devil Rays
Grieve and Arrojo seem intent on giving it away. Arrojo’s decline
is very reminiscent of Rene Arocha’s in 1993. They had similar
starts, similiar appraoaches and similar problems with left-handed
hitters. Mike Caruso has managed to be about as good as you
can be without walking in double digits, and Orlando Hernandez
is lots of fun to watch, if prone to OquistLines ™.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
- Kerry Wood, Cubs
- Steve Woodard, Brewers
- Masato Yoshii, Mets
I wanted to put Woodall on the ballot, but….
For all the hype about the first basemen, only two are having
even decent years, and neither Travis Lee nor Todd Helton
have been anything special. Jesus Sanchez and Kerry Ligtenberg
also have cases.
AL LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER
Jaime Navarro, White Sox
One of two White Sox dueling, but at least Mike Cameron plays defense.
Just a terrible pitcher.
NL LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER
Kevin Orie, Marlins
Hey, it was close, as the league has a number of excellent candidates,
including a pair of Cubs (Servais and Blauser). Honorable mention to
Todd Hundley, with a lower OPS than Rey Ordonez and, um, less defensive value.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Joe Torre, Yankees
- Jimy Williams, Red Sox
- Terry Collins, Angels
Yeah, they have a $135 million payroll or whatever, but it’s
a .740 record. And Torre has had to juggle injuries to two of
his best players and his top two relievers. In addition, he
finally flipped Posada and Girardi, kept all 14 left fielders
reasonably happy and didn’t get fired when he started out 0-3.
Jimy Williams is doing it with mirrors, but they’re his mirrors.
His handling of Saberhagen deserves credit, and he’s managed
to make something out of nothing at second base, catcher and
Collins is a default choice, based on finding the manager who’s
put up with the most crap this year and still has the team
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Larry Dierker, Astros
- Bruce Bochy, Padres
- Jim Riggleman, Cubs
To me, Dierker gets a bit too much credit for the Astros’
success, without being held accountable for the injuries his
system has caused (Holt, Garcia; I fully expect to see Jose
Lima down next year). That said, he’s a good offensive
manager, and has milked good performances out of guys like
Bill Spiers and Carl Everett.
The Padres’ success is more attributable, IMO, to Kevin
Towers, but Bochy hasn’t screwed it up and has done a good
job of finding ABs for Ruben Rivera.
Jim Riggleman is the best of an unimpressive bunch, although
I’m tempted to give Felipe Alou a vote here because he’s
developing a wicked pitching staff up north. The Expos
will lead the league in ERA in 2000.