Ripken's the sentimental choice, but Fernandez has earned the nod by making a run at .400, while leading the league in hitting and on-base percentage.
FANS: Derek Jeter, Yankees
SI: Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox
Their offensive stats were nearly identical but, sidelined by injuries, Garciaparra produced his in six fewer games. He also lacks Jeter's supporting cast and gets points for having kept Boston in the race on nights when Pedro Martinez wasn't pitching.
FANS: Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers
Even with Charles Johnson in Baltimore, Pudge is still the best defensive catcher in the league. His .315 average, 13 homers and 15 steals make him also the most complete backstop.
FANS: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners; Manny Ramirez, Indians; Kenny Lofton, Indians
SI: Griffey, Ramirez, B.J. Surhoff, Orioles
Griffey was on pace for his third straight 50-homer, 140-RBI season, and Ramirez's blazing start had him atop the RBI leader list (81). Beside them in left should be Surhoff, who was hitting .341 and led the woeful Orioles in homers (16) and RBIs (54), and was first in the league in hits (107).