Best Active Player Never to Make an All-Star Team: Jay Buhner, Manners. He fueled Seattle's late run at the stumbling Angels by cranking nine home runs and 22 RBIs from Sept. 5 to 16. He has 116 RBIs and 37 dingers, marking the fifth consecutive season he has had at least 20 homers.
Timing Is Everything Award: Sammy Sosa, Cubs. In this his option year, Sosa, 26, has responded with his most productive season—36 homers, 115 RBIs—just in time to make a killing on the free-agent market.
StriKKKKKKKKeout King: Andujar Cedeno, Padres. He whiffed in eight consecutive plate appearances against the Astros on July 6 and 7, becoming the fifth player in National League history to accomplish the dubious feat over two games.
Don't Walk Award: Mariano Duncan, Reds. Duncan, who started the season with the Phillies, went 215 plate appearances before drawing his first walk of the season on Aug. 29. It was the only base on balls issued that night by three Cardinal pitchers.
Best Player to Receive the Least Recognition (including by SI): Edgar Martinez, Mariners. Ranked among the top four in the American League in batting (.355, first), on-base percentage (.480, first), doubles (51, first), runs (116, tied for first), slugging (.639, second), hits (173, tied for second), total bases (311, tied for third) and RBIs (111, fourth), Martinez was even second in the league in walks, with 112—the most ever by a Latin American player. What more could you ask from a designated hitter?
Player Who Made Less Than the President but Had a Better Year: Tim Wakefield, Red Sox. After going 5-15 in Triple A last year, the knuckleballing Wakefield has turned his record around, to 16-6 with a 2.86 ERA. Now he's in a photo finish with Mariner ace Randy Johnson in the race for the American League Cy Young Award. Johnson has a clause in his contract that will pay him a reported $200,000 if he wins the award; Wakefield has a contract that will pay him $175,000 this season, period. He has no incentive clauses.
Least Known .300 Hitter of the 1990s: Don Slaught, Pirates. That's right, the scrappy 37-year-old Sluggo, who hit a combined .277 in the '80s, has hit .306 this decade, including .311 this year.
So Take the Gold Watch Already: Dave Winfield, Indians. When he hasn't been spending 26 days on the disabled list, Winfield, a soon-to-be-44-year-old designated hitter (and the oldest player in the majors), has been having an I'm-through season: .183, 24 strikeouts in 109 at bats, two home runs and four RBIs.
Born Again Again Award: Gary Gaetti, Royals. After he became a born-again Christian while with the Twins in 1988, Gaetti suffered a sharp drop-off in production, and there were whispers in the clubhouse that in finding inner peace off the field he had lost his fire on it. Suddenly this season he popped 34 home runs and drove in 93 runs. A miracle.
Rock Bottom Award: The Twins. They are 41� games behind the Indians in the American League Central and have a major league worst 5.82 ERA. When was the last time teams put up those kinds of embarrassing numbers? How about 1979, when the Blue Jays finished 50� games behind the Orioles in the American League East, and 1939, when the St. Louis Browns had a 6.01 ERA?