At the All-Star break, the two players who were the most valuable in their respective leagues were born on the same day, May 27, 1968; won MVP awards in the same year, 1994; play the same position, first base; and have put their teams in contention in their respective Central divisions. Frank Thomas of the White Sox led the American League in RBIs (85), was fourth in batting (.349), was tied for seventh in homers (23) and was playing improved defense for a team that was making an unexpected run at the Indians. Jeff Bagwell of the Astros also ranked in the top 10 in the Triple Crown categories (.312, 22 homers, 74 RBIs), and Houston was in a virtual first-place tie with the Cardinals (page 66). If Thomas and Bagwell, in fact, go on to win their second MVP trophies at the end of this season, they'll join Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella (1951 and '55) as tandems who twice won the award in the same year.
Here's a look at the highlights, the low-lights, some other heroes and the goats of the first half.
AL: Andy Pettitte, Yankees. First in the league in wins (13) and sixth in ERA (3.81), he became the staff ace after David Cone was sidelined by surgery to repair an aneurysm in his right shoulder.
NL: John Smoltz, Braves. He faded right before the break, losing his last three starts, but he was still the league leader in wins (14) and strikeouts (149).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
AL: Derek Jeter, Yankees. He hit .277 and played terrific shortstop (only eight errors) for the East leaders.
NL: Jason Kendall, Pirates. He made the All-Star team with a .294 average and solid defense behind the plate.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
AL: Joe Torre, Yankees. Despite getting only six starts from Cone, he had New York six games up in the East. Torre used his bullpen brilliantly and steered a surprisingly calm ship.