Bobby Abreu, Phillies. Philadelphia's annual second-half collapse has been no fault of Abreu's. Through August the 25-year-old rightfielder had improved his hits total each month, and his .344 batting average ranked second in the National League. What's more, his strikeouts were down from one every 3.7 at bats in 1998 to one every 5.1 this year, and his walks (90) were up six in eight fewer plate appearances than he had all of last year.
Kent Bottenfield, Cardinals. The portly righthander's performance thinned after a blazing 14-3 start—he had won just three of 10 starts since the All-Star break—but Bottenfield was still fourth in the National League with 17 wins. Not bad for a 30-year-old who began the season with 18 career victories.
B.J. Surhoff, Orioles. On a team racked by poor pitching, injuries and lousy chemistry, Surhoff, Baltimore's 35-year-old leftfielder, still motivated himself to have the best year of his career. In addition to hitting .317, he had career highs in homers (27) and RBIs (101), was second in the American League in hits (190) and was seventh in total bases (306).
Any Takers for Cordova?
Early in June, when it became obvious that he was no longer wanted by the Twins, DH Marty Cordova asked manager Tom Kelly for a favor: Would Kelly please give him an occasional start in the outfield? Kelly complied, not because he thought that Cordova, the 1995 American League Rookie of the Year, had a particularly good glove. No, Cordova and Kelly had the same idea: Maybe if Cordova performed well, some other team would want him.
Unfortunately for both parties, it didn't work. Cordova made 20 outfield starts and put up decent overall numbers—.289 average, 14 home runs, 68 RBIs, 12 stolen bases in 113 games through Sunday—but the Twins still couldn't give him away. Cordova, 30, whose four-year, $6.3 million contract ends this season, was put on waivers in May and again in August. For the $20,000 fee, a team could have had a career .275 hitter with some pop. Nobody bit.
One source on the team says that the main knock against Cordova is a history of injuries. (Plantar fascitis in his left foot, diagnosed two years ago, has lingered.) This irritates Cordova. "I'm as healthy as I've ever been," he says. "A team that needs me to play full time will get a full-time outfielder." Cordova acknowledges that he will probably have to try the free-agent market in the off-season or possibly attend spring training as a nonroster invitee. "Everyone has opinions," he says, "but I know I can still play."