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He won’t set any home-run records this season, nor will he get close. He’s
not going to be the MVP, and it would be hard to argue that he’s enjoyed
this season as much as the last two. Nevertheless, this is probably the
best season of Sammy Sosa‘s career. Yup. Better than his
award-winning, crowd-pleasing 1998, and better than his 63-bomb followup in
1999.

Sosa is currently posting a .347
Equivalent Average,
blowing away his 1998
peak of .324. That number is sixth in the National League; he’s also tops
in Equivalent Runs and third in runs above position, despite playing a
position that may be the best-hitting in the game right now.

Sosa’s offensive game has better balance than it has in years. While his
home runs and home-run rate are down a bit, the power hasn’t been lost: he
has already set a career high in doubles with 35, and is approaching his
total of two-baggers for 1998 and 1999 combined. His batting average, OBP
and slugging percentage are all career highs, as are his walks and walk rate.

While Sosa’s defense has been called in to question in some places, his
performance hasn’t actually slipped much. His Range Factor and Zone Rating
are in the middle of the pack among NL regular right fielders; he’s not
Mark Kotsay, but neither is he the sloth many people made him out to
be during the Ides of June.

It’s interesting. Two years ago, Sosa was awarded an MVP he didn’t deserve
because Kerry Wood and Mickey Morandini had good years,
helping the Cubs get to 90 wins and a brief postseason appearance. This
year, he’s one of the four or five best players in the league and I bet he
doesn’t crack the top ten in the voting.

He’ll be as high on my ballot as he’s ever been, and I really am impressed
by how he’s played in a season when it seemed everyone turned on him. Sosa
also had none of the motivators, the pennant race and the home-run chase(s)
he’d had in 1998 and 1999. Kudos, Sammy.

  • Thanks to the many hockey fans who pointed out that it was Clint
    Malarchuk who’d had his jugular cut during a game in 1990.

  • With one win, the Red Sox really changed the nature of their chase of
    the Indians. They’re just two games behind now and have Pedro
    Martinez
    pitching Thursday night. That puts a lot of pressure on the
    Tribe to win tonight or risk leaving the series tied with the Sox
    and behind the A’s, who go into tonight just a half-game behind the
    Indians.

  • I have to ask: anybody know what the forecast is for next week in
    Boston? I just wonder what a day or two of rain could do to potential
    first-week-of-October scenarios….

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

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