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MLB - Don't Destroy a Great Season

By James Anderson
Thursday, August 22nd, 2002
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After Barry Bonds' season last year, I didn't think anyone could match that season again, but then came Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod is playing for a last-place team, but is having an absolute monster MVP season. I usually don't select players from last-place teams as an MVP, but Rodriguez is putting up statistics that say no one could do better whether on a first- or last-place team.

Brett Boone had stunning statistics last year because all his teammates had career years and he had more opportunities than anyone in the American League. But Rodriguez is having a career year with a team that doesn't win a lot -- and that says a lot about the type of player he is.

Alex Rodriguez, as of Aug. 20, has 44 homeruns, .323 batting average, 100 runs, 153 hits, 110 RBIs, .660 slugging %, and .408 on base %. With a full season, these statistics could easily top out at 60+ homeruns, .330+ batting average, 140 runs, 200+ hits, and possibly 150+ RBI's.

These are great statistics on a good team, but to put these up for a last-place team is just ridiculous. Add to the fact, Rodriguez is one of the best shortstops defensively in the major leagues and Rodriguez is hands down the MVP in all of baseball, let alone the American League.

Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano of the Yankees is having one of the greatest breakout years a second year player could have. Soriano is the first second baseman to be a 30-30 man. He has 30 homeruns, 34 steals, 162 hits, 77 RBIs, and 97 runs. He has such room for improvement that this guy could be a future MVP in the league.

For my money, Rodriguez gets the MVP because if they switched teams, Texas wouldn't be any better, but if A-Rod could bring his stats to the Yankees, then they would be a better team. No matter what, it's a bad situation that neither player may be able to see how great a season they could have.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have a chance to have two pitchers win 25 games in one year. That's absolutely incredible for one team to have two pitchers you expect to win regardless of who they're facing. Both of these guys are heading for 25 wins with maybe six losses at the most if the season isn't interrupted.

Randy Johnson was given up for dead during a rough patch in which he was actually getting hit. He has turned his season around in a big way and is plowing hitters down one after another now. Ace Curt Schilling is simply having an off-the-chart season in which he has more wins than walks. If the American League teams hadn't hit him so well, he would really be challenging 30 wins this season.

Speaking of great years, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds could also hit 60+ homeruns again with Sosa being the most obvious player to do it again. Bonds sees less hittable pitches than any player in baseball, so his path to 60 homeruns is tougher. Bonds already has 144 walks this season with a major league record of 48 intentional walks. It's pretty hard to hit when you only see three pitches a game to hit, but he actually still has a chance to win the batting crown as he leads the lead with a .359 average. Sosa is putting up some good stats, too, with 100 runs scored and 96 RBIs. The RBIs are impressive when you look at how the hitters in front of and behind Sosa have struggled throughout the season.

What's probably most impressive is the team play this year. If ever there was a year that needs to be played out, it's this season. Last year would have been better because everyone assumed the Yankees would win it. Now that Arizona beat the Yankees, other teams actually feel like they have a chance to do the same. The attitude seems be if it happened once why not again. The whole kicker is that everyone just needs to worry about his own team and deal with the Yankees when the time comes.

Atlanta will win the East and I really feel their only competition is with Arizona although I wouldn't eliminate St. Louis if they have to face them. Suddenly, Andy Benes is pitching real well after starting so bad that he retired. If he can carry it over to the playoffs, look out.

Arizona has the automatic wins in Schilling and Johnson, but they have lost so anything is possible and the other Diamondback pitchers are inconsistent this season so we'll see. Rick Helling and Miguel Batista will be key to the Diamondbacks playoff season success. This is what makes baseball so great because everyone feels confident now that they can win the World Series unlike in the past when it was automatic for the Yankees.

With Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe having big years, Boston has a chance if they can just make the postseason. Anytime a team can get two automatic wins, they have a chance to go all the way. And not to be forgotten, Minnesota is coasting this year and beat Pedro last week, so watch out.

The American League west is tough this year. Anaheim really has looked good and if they stay healthy, I wouldn't put it past them to win the whole show. A lot of people are waiting for them to falter, but it's not wise to keep depending on someone to fail rather than others playing better.

In closing, I hope and pray that Donald Fehr and Bud Selig come to heir senses and get it done so we can stop worrying about seasons ending early and bickering three years later. I hate seeing potentially great seasons going off the board and individual players missing out on record book seasons.

All we can do is sit back and enjoy the action we are seeing now and appreciate it for what it is and not fret about what could have been. Shout out to the league and let them know how you truly feel and don't just talk out the side of your face. Be honest and maybe we can help get something done.

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