National League MVP
Sammy Sosa, Cubs. Forget for a moment Mark McGwire's dramatic assault on Roger Maris's record and all the goodwill Big Mac generated for the game, and consider this: On May 10, Sosa had seven homers and 21 RBIs, and the Cubs were 19-17. In the team's 126 games after that, he hit 59 homers and drove in 137 runs, and his team went 70-56 to send the wild-card race into a one-game playoff. McGwire's Cardinals, on the other hand, were never more than two games over 500 from May 31 to Sept 21. Moises Alou (.312, 38 homers, 124 RBIs) of the Astros and Greg Vaughn (.272, 50 homers, 119 RBIs) of the Padres are also more deserving than McGwire because without them their teams probably would not have won their divisions.
American League Rookie of the Year
Ben Grieve, Athletics. He suffered a major second-half slide, but he still prevails with a .288 average, 18 home runs and 89 RBIs. Cuban righthander Rolando Arrojo (14-12,3.56) of the Devil Rays merits consideration, but the 30-year-old veteran of international play is a rookie in name only.
Best Rookie Righthanded Cuban Refugee Who Throws from Countless Arm Angles and Whose Age Is in Dispute
Would you believe it's a tie? Arrojo and Orlando Hernandez of the Yankees. Arrojo set the record for wins by a pitcher on a first-year expansion team, while El Duque's ebullience and nasty stuff—not to mention his 12-4 record and 3.13 ERA—wowed 'em in the Bronx.
National League Rookie of the Year
Kerry Wood, Cubs (left). In his fifth major league start, against a good-hitting Astros lineup, he tied the major league record for strikeouts in a game by whiffing 20. For an encore he developed into a solid starter (13-6, 3.40 ERA) and continued to fan hitters at a staggering rate (12.6 per nine innings) before his overworked arm gave out and he missed the last four weeks with a sore elbow.
American League Manager of the Year
Terry Collins, Angels. Even though his team missed the playoffs, Collins deserves the award for keeping injury-riddled Anaheim in the West Division race. First baseman-outfielder Darin Erstad played with an injured hamstring; DH Tim Salmon limped through the season on a bad foot; and lefthander Chuck Finley was struck by batted balls twice in seven days—once while sitting in the dugout. If Anaheim were a boxer, it would lead the league in standing eight counts, but Collins kept his club fighting well into the final round.
National League Manager of the Year
Dusty Baker, Giants. Baker led a team practically devoid of superstars on a 9-2 tear to force a playoff for the wild-card spot. The one true stud Baker does have is Barry Bonds (below, left), who isn't the easiest guy in the world to manage. In July, Bonds took umbrage at some innocuous remarks Baker made and said, "You can tell Dusty to kiss my ass. And you can put it in the paper. You can put it on a billboard. I don't care." In September he boasted, "There isn't a person in this locker room who can carry my jock strap." Still, Baker kept his over-achieving team's focus on the field.
Oscar Gamble Award for Worst Hair
Charles Nagy, Indians. In a year of bad dye jobs, his was the worst. After Nagy (right) tried to break a slump by bleaching his hair blond, Cleveland general manager John Hart mourned the passing of what had once been one of baseball's best coifs: "I mean, he had this flowing mane. He looked like he stepped right out of GQ."
American League Comeback Player of the Year
Eric Davis, Orioles. He's hitting as well (.327, 28 homers, 89 RBIs) a year after colon-cancer surgery as he did in any of his 12 big league seasons before the operation. Honorable mention for the Blue Jays' Jose Canseco (career-best 46 homers plus 107 RBIs) for resurrecting himself from the cartoon-superhero junk heap.
National League Comeback Player of the Year
Greg Vaughn, Padres. Last year San Diego couldn't give him away. This year he put together the best offensive season of any Padre ever, picking up the slack after Ken Caminiti's injury-induced slide.
Mark Fuhrman Award
Todd Hundley, Mets. Someone planted an outfielder's glove on his left hand. As a leftfielder, Hundley made a hell of a catcher.