The eye catching choice for this position is, of course, Mike Piazza. But here at Bucketfoot, we look beyond just the hitting stats.
Piazza, while no doubt a marvelous hitter, would need to dramatically improve just to become a defensive liability. The clear Bucketfoot choice at Catcher is Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.
Pudge has a canon for an arm, with the accuracy of a laser guided missle. He calls a good game (and continues to improve) and plays nearly every game. His hitting stroke continues to take major steps forward, with career year totals in 1998.
Honorable Mentions go to, of course, Mike Piazza - a hitter just looking for a position; Jason Kendall - excellent batting and basestealing skills, however he is currently only middle of the road defensively. Also watch out for Oakland's AJ Hinch who only needs to prove that he can hit at the Major League level.
Mark McGwire, 70 Home Runs, any other questions...
This year Craig Biggio got a real run for his money. Brett Boone came on like gangbusters this year, with better Home Run and RBI numbers than Biggio, while taking away the Gold Glove Award. But with Biggio and his .325 Average, 20 Home Runs, 88 RBIs along with 51 Double, 50 Stolen Bases and a .403 On-Base Percentage (and of course his stellar defense), it all boils down to Biggio. But give Boone a year or two with the Braves and watch out!
Especially in the NL, this is probably one of the strongest postions in baseball today. With either Chipper Jones, Vinny Castilla, Scott Rolen or Ken Caminiti it is hard to go wrong. But the Bucketfoot nod goes to: Vinnie Castilla - .319 Average, 46 Home Runs, 144 RBIs, 13 errors and 162 Games
Another one of those very strong positions, although this time favoring the AL.
The scariest part is that Derek Jeter, with his totals of .324 Average, 19 Home Runs, 84 RBIs and 9 Errors, doesn't get serious consideration!
Despite his numbers of .323 Average, 35 Home Runs and 122 RBIs, Nomar Garciapara only gets Honorable Mention.
The 1998 Bucketfoot Shortstop is Alex Rodriguez and his .310 Average, 42 Home Runs, 124 RBIs, 18 Errors and 161 Games.
Unlike any of the middle positions (such as Catcher), Left Field is a position where we at Bucketfoot feel you can sacrafice defense for offensive firepower.
While he is not a Gold Glove fielder, Juan Gonzalez also is not a defensive liability he's never had a Home Run ball bounce off his head). Combine this with the career year that he had hitting in 1998 and there is clearly no other choice.
This is another clear cut decision, while his average may have only been .284, Ken Griffey Jr. and his 56 Homes Runs, 146 RBIs and stellar (although overrated) defense were just too far above the competition
Sammy Sosa, again any questions...
With a .308 Average, 66 Home Runs, 158 RBIs and a deserving MVP despite 70 Home Runs by Big Mac, this is a tie for the easiest choice.
All it takes is looking at the departure of Mo Vaughn from the Red Sox this year to see that Boston still hasn't learned their leassons.
Roger Clemens was simpley the most dominating pitcher in baseball, again in 1998
Trevor Hoffman could have easily been the Cy Young Award winner in 1998. Instead he will have to settle for being the Bucketfoot Reliever of the Year.
This is another case where the popular choice, Joe Torre, just doesn't cut it. Even Bucketfoot could have Managed that Yankee team to the AL East title. Rather, the Bucketfoot Manager of the Year is Houston's Larry Dierker.