TOP TEN TEAMS
- Yankees – Amazing depth, they can lose anyone and keep right on
rolling. But new playoff system will make it much less likely that
the Yanks will be champs.
- Braves – Same old story, plus the emergence of Chipper Jones as
a superstar and Andres Gallaraga’s career year.
- Padres – This almost should have been expected, given how many
of the Padres’ talented arms performed unbelievably badly in 1997.
- Astros – Dierker seems able to pull surprises out of his hat at will
– like Jose Lima and Carl Everett – and the Johnson acquisition has
given them a real shot at winning any playoff series.
- Red Sox – A team with gaping holes but also top performers who have
- Mets – A deep six, sometimes even seven-man rotation – not a good idea
normally – has carried them, and now the acquisitions of Piazza
and Phillips have finally provided some strength to what was a weak
lineup at the beginning of the year.
- Indians – They’ll win the AL Central by default, but they seem
intent on squandering their talent this year.
- Orioles – Having finally gotten rid of some very unneeded baggage
and abandoning stupid ideas like keeping Eric Davis on the bench so
he won’t get hurt, the team is making a very strong second-half showing.
- Angels – Better known as the walking wounded.
- Cubs – Wood and Sosa have lead their team into contention with
a startling discovery: the strike zone.
THREE MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAMS
- Mariners – Griffey. Rodriguez. Martinez. Under .500. Time
for Woody and Lou to wave “bye-bye.”
- Cleveland – Yeah, they’re in first place, but a team with this
much talent should not settle for winning their division by default.
- Tigers – Its not that they should’ve been particularly good, but there’s
a lot more talent here than on the Devil Rays, and little of it has shown up.
- Ken Griffey Jr – With Seattle out of the race and his home
run pace diminished, Griffey is quiet, but still having another
MVP type season.
- Bernie Williams – Who says the Yankees don’t have a star?
Bernie’s been the best player in the league by far this year, but
he’s not my first choice here only because of the large chunk of
time he was on the disabled list. This year’s Yankees team is so far
ahead that losing any one player can’t cripple them, but they will miss Bernie
a lot if he leaves after the season via free agency
- Alex Rodriguez – Still the wunderkid at shortstop, staying
a bit ahead of Garciaparra and Jeter.
- Albert Belle – Providing lots of protection to Frank Thomas,
but… nevertheless, Albert’s bat is definitely back. Perhaps
Reisendorf will have an easier time getting rid of Albert’s
contract this year.
- Pedro Martinez – New league, same old Pedro. Despite
occassional gopheritis, he’s found the American League only
slightly more difficult.
- Greg Maddux – Look, he’s the most valuable anything anywhere.
Who cares that his slugging average is mediocre?
- Mark McGwire – Baseball fans are coming out in droves to see
his dogged pursuit of the walks record.
- Chipper Jones – Overshadowed. Having what will probably end
up being the second greatest career of players selected first
overall in the annual amateur draft.
- Moises Alou – Has surprised skeptics, including myself,
by having a tremendous season in the Astrodome. He’s a major
reason why Houston has been able to pull away from the pack.
- Craig Biggio – Leadoff man extraordinaire for the Astros.
His defense isn’t as good as advertised, but he’s able to make
up for it with his bat and body.
NL CY YOUNG
- Greg Maddux – As John Lennon once described the Beatles,
he’s bigger than you know who.
- Tom Glavine – I never thought his career would last. But his
stuff is now better than it was a few years ago, and he’s more
effective than anybody besides his teammate.
- Kevin Brown – His acquisition was the key offseason trade in
the National League, and the Padres have run away from the rest
of the division thanks to him and Ashby.
- Curt Schilling – Once again, his arm has held up enough to be
the bright spot on a mediocre staff.
- Andy Ashby – Great season highlighted by his remarkable 75 pitch
AL CY YOUNG
- Pedro Martinez – New league, same Pedro.
- Roger Clemens – Seemingly still surprised that he’s not on a
- Kenny Rogers – Would even The Gambler have gambled on this?
- Bartolo Colon – A tragedy in the making; Colon had a brilliant
first half but was so overworked his future is cloudy.
- David Wells – Mr. Perfect Game is having a career year, though his gaudy
won-loss record has more to do with the Yankee offense than his fine pitching.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
- Kerry Wood – Still don’t get how his control improved after
he got to the majors.
- M Yoshii – No Yoshiimania has come this way, but he’s nevertheless
established himself as a big league starter.
- Steve Woodard – Has followed up last year’s brilliant first start
with an effective rookie season, despite a few rough spots.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
- Rolando Arrojo – A bit old to be a rookie, but he deserves this for
his pitching and for putting up with what Tampa misleadingly calls
an “offense.” Well, it is accurate, but not in the way intended.
- Ben Grieve – Despite a recent slump, Grieve has shown his terrific
hitting skills often enough to make everyone see the star he’ll become.
Still too much of a ground ball hitter, though.
- Mike Caruso – A lot of weaknesses are still evident, but a season
like this after a jump from A-ball deserves some accolades.
AL LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER
Paul Sorrento – The Devil Rays thought they went out and purchased
a major league offense. But anemic would be too positive to describe
the seasons Sorrento and his veteran teammates are having.
NL LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER
Marquis Grissom – The Brewers’ idea of a blockbuster acquisition,
Grissom has reminded Milwaukee fans more of a block than anything else.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Larry Dierker
- Bobby Cox
- Bobby Valentine
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
- Joe Torre
- Terry Collins
- Jimy Williams
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