Believe it or not, the Cubs' Ryne Sandberg isn't my choice for National League MVP (even though I'm rooting for Chicago to win the Series). Here are my choices for baseball's top awards:
National League MVP: Keith Hernandez, Mets. Sandberg had better stats, but Hernandez, who hit .311 with 94 RBIs and the league's third-best on-base percentage (.409), also had outstanding numbers. Furthermore, his defense at first base was brilliant, and he was the heart and soul of the surprising Mets.
National League Cy Young: Rick Sutcliffe, Cubs. If I could have any pitcher in baseball to start the seventh game of the World Series, I'd pick Sutcliffe.
National League Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Mets. His biggest accomplishment was convincing the Mets, who had finished fifth or sixth every year since 1977, that they could contend. Try it sometime and see how tough it is. Jim Frey did a fine job with the Cubs, but he was dealing with veterans who had learned about winning in other towns.
American League MVP: Dan Quisenberry, Royals. Minnesota's Kent Hrbek was the only non-pitcher considered. Eddie Murray had the best year of his career, but the Orioles finished 19 games out. Quiz won six games and saved 44; he was involved in 59% of his team's wins.
American League Cy Young: Willie Hernandez, Tigers. He had 33 save opportunities and he cashed in 32 of them, and the only one he missed came last Friday. Hernandez finishes second to Quiz in this one-man MVP vote because the Tigers would have been in the hunt in the American League East without him.
American League Manager of the Year: Dick Howser, Royals. He survived key injuries—for example, in mid-August his first- and second-string shortstops went on the DL within three days—and the suspension of Willie Wilson. Howser never let K.C. panic or quit.
He Kept Both Sides In The Game:
Juan Samuel, the Phillies' second baseman, set a major league rookie record with 72 steals. He also had 15 homers, 35 doubles, 19 triples, 69 RBIs and 105 runs.
On the other hand, he set a major league rookie record with 168 strikeouts, he walked only 28 times, and he led major league second basemen with 33 errors. He was the biggest reason why the Phillies turned only 110 double plays this season, last in the National League.
Best Exec of the Year: Dallas Green traded for Gary Matthews, Bob Dernier and Tim Stoddard at the end of spring training and for Rick Sutcliffe and George Frazier just before the trading deadline, and the Cubs became winners—after 39 years.
Worst Exec of the Year: Pittsburgh's Harding Peterson never replaced free agent Dave Parker, traded Mike Easier, and started the season with too little hitting and too much starting pitching. In spring training he took a pass on Ruppert Jones, who went on to help the Tigers win the American League East, but he signed Amos Otis and Gene Tenace as free agents and then released them by midseason. That's how the Pirates became the first team to finish last while leading the league in ERA.
Injuries of the Year: April 8—The Astros' Dickie Thon was beaned by the Mets' Mike Torrez and missed the rest of the season because of impaired vision. The Astros never recovered from the loss of their best player and the best all-around shortstop in the National League.
May 29—Bob Horner broke a wrist for the second time, and the Braves' chances in the National League West disappeared. Without Horner, the Atlanta offense, which had led the league the past two seasons, slipped to 10th.
In Life, All Is Timing: Last year, after he was released by the Mets, Dave Kingman didn't know if he'd have a job in 1984. But he was invited to the A's spring training camp as a nonroster player and made the team. After hitting 35 homers, driving in 118 runs and batting .268, 33 points above his career average, he now can clean up in the free-agent market.
Luckiest Player of the Year: Until Aug. 28 Bill Scherrer was stranded at Wichita, the Reds' Triple A team, but then the Tigers decided they needed another lefty in their bullpen. Scherrer was their man. "I believe in miracles," he says of the delightful turn of fate that has made him eligible for a piece of the postseason pie.... Gutsiest Player of the Year: The Expos' Andre Dawson played the entire season with a very painful left knee, in which there was a partially detached bone spur.... Macho Man of the Year: Baltimore's Cal Ripken played every inning of every game for the second straight season. He hasn't missed an inning since June 4, 1982, 4,121 innings ago.... Comeback Player of the Year: After helping lead St. Louis to a World Series victory in 1982, Joaquin Andujar crashed to a 6-16 record last year. He rebounded to a 20-14 record in '84, with a 3.34 ERA.... Birth of an Ace: The Twins' Frank Viola, 7-15 last year, led the Twins' staff with an 18-12 record, winning 14 of his last 19 decisions. Viola is 24.... Countdown to Cobb: Pete Rose finished his 22nd season with 4,097 hits, 94 shy of Ty Cobb's record of 4,191.
Atlanta owner Ted Turner, who fired manager Joe Torre Monday, is likely to replace Torre with Phil Niekro, who'll be the player-manager. Talk about p.r. moves! You say Niekro is a Yankee? Well, Turner and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner are tight, and though Steinbrenner might not surrender Niekro for just any old body, the two should have no problem working out a deal. Torre may wind up in Montreal.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MIKE WITT: California's 24-year-old righthander pitched the majors' first nine-inning perfect game since 1981 and the 12th ever in beating Texas 1-0 on Sunday. Witt, 15-10, fanned 10 batters.
BALL PARK FIGURES
Here's my all-rookie team, with some key stats for each player:
1B-Alvin Davis, Sea (116 RBI, 27 HR)
2B-Juan Samuel, Phil (72 SB, 19 3B)
SS-Jackie Gutierrez, Bos (.263)
3B-Terry Pendleton, St. L (.324)
OF-Dan Gladden, SF (.351, 31 SB)
OF-Kirby Puckett, Minn (.296, 16 A)
OF-Jeff Stone, Phil (.368, 27 SB)
C-Mike Fitzgerald, Mets (.242)
LHP-M. Langston, Sea (17-10, 204 K)
RHP-D. Gooden, Mets (17-9, 276 K)
AND THE WINNER IS...
Before Sunday's game against Detroit at Yankee Stadium, New York teammates Dave Winfield (.3410) and Don Mattingly (.3395) were one-two in the American League batting race. But as they prepared for their final at bats in the eighth inning, Mattingly's 3 for 4 performance had put him ahead of Winfield, who had gone 1 for 3, by .0012. "At that point I felt nobody could be a loser," Mattingly said later. Mattingly's bad-hop single past Tiger second baseman Scott Earl and Win-field's fielder's-choice grounder sewed up the title for Mattingly .3433 to .3404. Indeed, nobody was really a loser.