Fans/managers: Mike Piazza, Dodgers.
SI: Todd Hundley, Mets. Piazza might have had a higher average (.367 to Hundley's .291) through Sunday, but Hundley's power numbers were slightly better (19 home and and 50 RBIs to Piazza's 15 and 45), and he gets extra credit for handling the over-achieving New York staff
Fans/managers: Jeff Bagwell, Astros
SI: Bagwell. We gave him the nod over Colorado's Andres Galarraga. Their power numbers at week's end were comparable (Bagwell: 22 homers and 72 RBIs; Galarraga: 21 and 82), but unlike the Big Cat, who plays at Coors Field, Bagwell hits in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Fans/managers: Craig Biggio, Astros.
SI: Biggio. He was hitting for average (.313) and power (13 homers). He was also second in the league in runs (69) despite being part of a mediocre offense.
Fans: Barry Larkin, Reds.
Managers: Jeff Blauser, Braves.
SI: Blauser. He's having a career year (.349 with II homers and 40 RBIs through Sunday) and leading the Braves in runs (53) while often hitting eighth.
Fans: Ken Caminiti, Padres.
Managers: Chipper Jones, Braves.
SI: Jones. Having hit .301, with 13 homers and 62 RBIs, he won by a slim margin over Colorado's Vinny Castilla, whose power numbers (20 homers, 60 RBIs) were bloated by playing in Coors Field.
Fans: Kenny Lofton, Braves; Larry Walker, Rockies; Tony Gwynn, Padres.
Managers: Lofton; Walker; Barry Bonds, Giants.
SI: Lofton; Walker; Gwynn. Lofton's speed has helped revive the Braves' offense, which was second in the league through Sunday. Walker was hitting a league-leading .410 with 24 homers and 67 RBIs. Gwynn, who was batting .393, seems capable of hitting .400 for the year.
A Name to Know
Thurman Clyde Greer III is no Thurman Clyde Greer III. For as long as he am remember, Greer, the Rangers leftfielder, has answered to a more appropriate name. "Even my parents have always called me Rusty," he says. "Look at me. It makes sense."
It isn't clear whether Greer is referring to the reddish tint of his hair or to his proletarian demeanor, but the name Rusty certainly doesn't apply to his baseball skills. At week's end Greer, 28, was among the American League's Top 10 in hitting (.336), runs (53), total bases (156) and outfield assists (7).
Greer plays the game with a blue-collar grit that he attributes to his hardscrabble baseball upbringing. After high school in Albertville, Ala., he had only one offer to play college baseball, from nearby University of Montevallo, then an NAIA school. Greer parlayed that opportunity into a 10th-round draft selection by Texas in 1990. He endured four full minor league seasons before reaching the majors in '94. That year he hit .314 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. "When you come from an NAIA school, you aren't going to gel the attention that players from bigger schools get," Greer says, "but I've found that it doesn't matter whether you are the first pick in the draft or you're taken in the 100th round. Everybody starts the same in rookie ball, and you get only as far as your work takes you."