One hundred forty two years after the first baseball rules were written, and three months into the 1987 season, one truth remains self-evident: The game is as unpredictable as ever.

After all, is there any logic to the Milwaukee Brewers winning 13 in a row and losing 12 in a row before Memorial Day? Or Bret Saberhagen staking claim to the Comeback of the Year Award at age 23? Or the Cardinals scoring the most runs in the National League in 1985, the fewest in '86, and the most again in '87? Or Lee Guetterman chalking up more wins than Roger Clemens; Ozzie Smith making a run at 100 RBIs with no homers; Rey Quinones hitting more homers than Jim Rice; or Oakland nominating Rob Nelson for the All-Star ballot instead of Mark McGwire?

No one in his right mind would have predicted the 4,650 home runs now projected for this season, a phantasmagoric figure that would break last year's record by nearly 850. The AL earned run average of 4.49 is the highest since 1950 (4.58), the NL ERA of 4.22 the highest since 1930 (4.97). And it isn't just McGwire's 33 homers or Jack Clark's 86 RBIs that are shocking. "When Wayne Tolleson hits a home run to the opposite field," says the Yankees' Wayne Tolleson, "something's wrong."

Injuries are always unpredictable, but consider these lulus: Cardinals pitcher John Tudor tore up his knee while sitting in the dugout, the Yankees' Ron Kittle pulled a neck muscle while toting a stretcher for injured teammate Lenn Sakata, the Mets' Gary Carter hurt his back playing catch with his kids in the backyard, and the Rangers' Oddibe McDowell sliced open his right middle finger while trying to butter a roll.

As the season began, nobody could have guessed that at the midway point Steve Carlton, 42, and Phil Niekro, 48, of the Indians would win more games in June than the Baltimore Orioles. Or that Tommy John, 44, would have more wins than Fernando Valenzuela; that Nolan Ryan, 40, would be second to teammate Mike Scott in the National League in strikeouts; that Joe Niekro, 42, would be a Minnesota mainstay; or that Jerry Reuss, 38, would be released by the Dodgers, released by the Reds and then be 3-0 with the Angels.

And who could have foreseen that Al Campanis would trigger a sociological upheaval with his ill-chosen remarks about minorities on national TV? Indeed, in a topsy-turvy season marked by the usual dearth of black front-office personnel as well as a dearth of decent pitching, perhaps the 1987 midseason Man of the Year award should go to Ray Burris. Shortly after the Campanis episode, the Brewers announced they had hired Burris as a special assistant to G.M. Harry Dalton. In June, Burris, who had been inactive since the Cardinals released him last summer, went to watch the pitchers at Milwaukee's California League farm club in Stockton. While there, he did some throwing on the side; a few days later, the pitching-desperate Brewers convinced him to make a comeback try, and Burris was activated. "Everyone rushed to hire minorities after Campanis," says one executive, "but Burris proves one thing: There are fewer qualified pitchers than there are qualified minorities. Pitching is so bad they're coming out of the front offices to try it. Dallas Green and Pat Gillick are probably throwing in their backyards right now."

Who'd have thought it?

With statistical analysis by Bill James

THREE-WAY SCRAP IN THE EAST

The Blue Jays and Yankees have the arms to battle it out, but the Tigers have teeth, too

This division has made the most headlines, what with the Roger Clemens walkout, the Brewer streaks and the Baltimore home runs. It should also have the best race, because the Yankees, Blue Jays and Tigers are all lined up for a tight second half.

New York used the division's deepest roster of players to survive the loss of Rickey Henderson and Don Mattingly for almost a month. "We're just about to hit show time" says manager Lou Piniella, envisioning a torrid streak led by Henderson—whose pulled hamstring has slowed him down and forced a move to leftfield—and Mattingly. Dave Righetti has had his slump for the year, failing in nine save opportunities, and now that Charles Hudson has moved to the bullpen, the setup men seem in place. Rick Rhoden (11-5) looks strong, Ron Guidry has pitched six straight good games, and the Yanks are 14-3 when Tommy John starts.

Still, the New York-Toronto winner may come down to who makes the best deal for pitching. If neither team does, the Tigers might win on the basis of the best staff, top to bottom. The Blue Jays are getting the usual brilliant seasons from George Bell, Tony Fernandez and Jesse Barfield, and their bullpen has held them together despite some erratic starting pitching. Luckless Jimmy Key belonged on the All-Star team, and Jim Clancy has won 10 games, but Dave Stieb's elbow and shoulder have rendered him unstable, and a spot remains for one veteran starter. The Jays have talked to the Dodgers about Alejandro Pena, the White Sox about Floyd Bannister and Richard Dotson, and the Pirates about Rick Reuschel. The Yankees have discussed Bannister and Dotson and Seattle's Mike Moore and may still get Goose Gossage back from San Diego to help Righetti.

But don't count out the Tigers. Since Kirk Gibson's return, they have taken over the league lead in average runs per game. Alan Trammell has batted cleanup and is having an MVP season. Sparky Anderson has made masterly use of his personnel, especially Matt Nokes and Darrell Evans. Detroit also has the best pitcher in the division in Jack Morris—remember how the Yankees and Blue Jays couldn't use him?—to go along with reliable Frank Tanana and workhorse Walt Terrell. In the month before the All-Star break there were two possibly significant developments: Dan Petry won four of his last five starts, and Willie Hernandez had saves in five out of seven opportunities.

The Brewers' 13-0 start was good for baseball and great for Milwaukee. Led by newcomers like Rob Deer, B.J. Surhoff and a wonderful manager named Tom Trebelhorn, the Brew Crew was 20-3 at the beginning of May. At the All-Star break it was below .500, and pitching was the prime suspect. Dan Plesac may be the best reliever in the league, but aces Ted Higuera (7-7, with a 4.98 ERA) and Juan Nieves (6-6, 5.26) have struggled. The Brewers were so desperate for pitching help that they activated Ray Burris, gave a tryout to the retired Pete Vuckovich and brought up Len Barker.

Pitching has been the undoing of Baltimore and Cleveland, as well. An Oriole starting rotation built around Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor and Ken Dixon might have sounded good at the start of the season, but those three are all currently pitching in Rochester. Cleveland's problem is that it doesn't have any pitchers better than old standbys Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton. Says Indians vice-president Joe Klein, "When Baltimore and Cleveland meet, the series may never end."

The Red Sox haven't gotten the Mets' headlines, but they've hardly covered themselves in glory, despite Wade Boggs's run at .400, three bright rookie outfielders and Dwight Evans's banner year. The heart of last year's order—Bill Buckner and Jim Rice—has lost a beat. The Clemens holdout and the May signing of Rich Gedman have left scars, several players have refused to talk to the media, and the manager has been surly. As for the late-inning dramatics that win pennants, the Sox have been out-scored 21-1 in extra innings.

NEW FACES, BUT THE SAME STORY

The Twins may have been riding high at the break, but the Royals are still the outfit to beat

Tip your hat to some general managers in this division. In an era in which most executives claim they can't make trades, Minnesota's Andy MacPhail has bolstered his pitching staff with starter Joe Niekro and relievers Jeff Reardon, Juan Berenguer and Dan Schatzeder. Kansas City's John Schuerholz found a good young righthanded cleanup hitter in Danny Tartabull. And Oakland's Sandy Alderson stole all-purpose reliever Dennis Eckersley away from the Cubs.

Despite the fine play of Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek, the biggest reason Minnesota leads the division at this writing is probably the addition of a bullpen stopper. "Reardon's mere presence has changed this team," says manager Tom Kelly. Berenguer (5-0) has also been a godsend pitching out of the pen and as a part-time starter. The key to the team's success in the stretch drive will be having starters Niekro, Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola and Mike Smithson hot at the same time.

The Athletics are the division's most interesting team. "They're bigger than the Raiders," marvels Angels manager Gene Mauch. Mark McGwire (33 home runs), Jose Canseco (18) and Mike Davis (20) may hit more than 120 homers all told, rookies Terry Steinbach and Luis Polonia have filled the catching and leadoff voids, and Jay Howell (15 saves) is back in gear as the stopper. The team began badly because of its battered starting staff. Dave Stewart has been reliable all year, but just when Joaquin Andujar got healthy, Curt Young strained a muscle in his left biceps. The Athletics are trying to pry Floyd Bannister loose from the White Sox. If they do, and if Young is sound and Andujar makes a salary drive, watch out.

The Angels' start was also sabotaged by pitching. Kirk McCaskill, John Candelaria and Donnie Moore have all spent time on the disabled list. But youngsters Devon White, Jack Howell and Wally Joyner have blossomed to pick up the offense, gypsy DeWayne Buice has become the stopper, and Willie Fraser has emerged as the league's premier rookie starter. Says Mauch, "If we're close enough and we have [Mike] Witt, McCaskill and Candelaria for the last month of the season, we can win this thing."

But the team every contender knows it must beat is Kansas City. The Royals, thanks mainly to Bret Saberhagen and Charlie Leibrandt, have survived Bud Black's knee surgery, terrible starts by Danny Jackson and Mark Gubicza, and two injuries to George Brett. The Royals still have the best pitching, and for the first time since 1980 they also have some punch in the lineup surrounding Brett in Tartabull and rookies Kevin Seitzer and Bo Jackson. They may even add free agent Lonnie Smith—who has played for three world champions in three cities in the past seven years—as a right handed DH.

Texas started the season flush with promise after a second-place finish in 1986. But the Rangers' young pitchers have struggled in the second year of what manager Bobby Valentine knew would be a three-season process. Bobby Witt and Edwin Correa have endured both injury and wildness, and the bullpen floundered until workaholic Dale Mohorcic took over. Nevertheless, says G.M. Tom Grieve, "the flow of the curve is still upward."

The curve is definitely upward in Seattle, where Dick Williams is moving the Mariners forward the same way he has lifted the franchises in Boston, Oakland, Montreal and San Diego. The double-play combination of Rey Quinones and Harold Reynolds is among the best in the league, and Mark Langston (10-8, with a league-leading 148 strikeouts) is a top starter. Still, the Mariners will probably have to wait until next year, when a turnaround season from Mike Moore and an infusion of power could make them contenders.

If so many pitcher-poor teams are looking to the White Sox for help, why is Chicago, with Bannister, Rich Dotson and Jose DeLeon, so bad? Perhaps it's because the front office seems to be focusing more attention on its new dress rules than on rebuilding the lineup.

THE CARDS HAVE COME UP ACES

Surprising St. Louis has been dealing the rest of the division a miserable hand

The Cardinals are going so well in the NL East, they're starting to sound like the '86 Mets. As Tommy Herr put it recently, "We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. That comes out as aggressiveness and perhaps cockiness, but it's really just knowing what we do well and then doing it." Take last week, for instance. Did the Cards complain on Monday night when rain washed out a fourth-inning lead? Nope. They went out and beat the Dodgers in back-to-back doubleheaders, twice tying games in the ninth inning. On Friday, they trailed the Giants 6-3 in the bottom of the 10th, when Ozzie Smith sparked a rally by drawing a walk and stealing second. St. Louis won 7-6. The next night, Jack Clark hit a 13th-inning homer for the team's ninth-straight victory. In all, the Cards are 10-1 in extra innings.

"What's amazing is that we've done it with so many injuries," says manager Whitey Herzog. John Tudor, Tony Pena, Herr, Jim Lindeman, Joe Magrane, Ken Dayley, Jeff Lahti, Tim Conroy and now Danny Cox have all been on the disabled list. But Vince Coleman's improved on-base percentage (.380, up from .301 in '86) and 52 stolen bases have made the offense go, and St. Louis has gotten surprising production from defensive whizzes like Smith, Jose Oquendo and Terry Pendleton. With the Dayley-Todd Worrell bullpen coming together and Tudor due back by the first of August, the Cardinals will be very tough to catch. And have they, by any chance, noticed the Mets' problems? "Yes," says Tudor with a smile.

Barring earthquake, plague or pestilence in St. Louis, the only team seemingly capable of wiping out the Cardinals' big lead is New York. But that's not to say Chicago and Montreal should be ignored. The Cubs have reshaped themselves, putting Andre Dawson in right, rookie David Martinez in center, and Keith Moreland at third base after a stint in right. Dawson has had an impact beyond his 24 homers, and Martinez has not only upgraded the outfield defense, he has reached base 47% of the time since moving into the leadoff spot.

The Expos survived an April without Hubie Brooks or Tim Raines, thanks to Tim Wallach (72 RBIs at the All-Star break) and Andres Galarraga (59 RBIs), and they enter the second half with Floyd Youmans back in shape (he pitched a one-hitter in Houston July 8).

No one in the Pirates organization predicted contention, only improvement. Rick Reuschel has been a marvel with his league-leading ERA of 2.32, but Pittsburgh has tried eight rookie pitchers in '87, and it's possible that none will win 10 games, thus imprisoning the Bucs in last place.

With their great first half, the Cardinals left the slow-starting Mets and Phillies in their dust. New York's highly publicized fussing and feuding has obscured the fact that its biggest problem is pitching. Even though the Mets are scoring as many runs as they did in '86, they're also on pace to allow nearly 100 more runs, with a staff ERA that is up from 3.11 to 3.89. Bob Ojeda, with only two wins, is likely to be out for the year after elbow surgery, Rick Aguilera (another bad elbow) is out indefinitely, Dwight Gooden missed two months in drug rehab, and Ron Darling went two months without a win. Roger McDowell, who missed two months because of a hernia operation, has been inconsistent, as has Jesse Orosco. The Mets won with pitching last year; this year they're in third place because their pitching is as ordinary as everyone else's.

The Phillies figured their starting pitching would be ordinary, but not this ordinary. They traded for Joe Cowley, and he's 3-8 with the Maine Guides. The Phils also had high hopes for 6'7" Starvin' Marvin Freeman; he's 0-7 in Maine. Everything else went wrong, too. They signed Lance Parrish, and he's being booed for his offense and defense. Despite Mike Schmidt's 500th homer, Steve Bedrosian's bullpen brilliance and Juan Samuel's offensive exploits, the rest of the team took so long to wake up that manager John Felske had to be fired. Von Hayes has finally started to hit, which means the Phillies are scoring runs, but just like last year, it's too late.

A WILD BUNCH OUT WEST

The Reds, Astros and Giants are wounded, but they just might shoot it out to the finish

Back in April the NL West promised to have the best three-team race. It still might, but the team that takes the division—the Reds, Giants or Astros—will win with the best limp.

At the start of the season, Cincinnati appeared to have one of baseball's most dazzling arrays of talent, a perfect blend of kids (Eric Davis, Kal Daniels, Tracy Jones) and veterans (Dave Parker, Bo Diaz, Buddy Bell). The Reds also had the deepest bullpen. But knee injuries to Daniels and Ron Oester have thinned the everyday talent and depleted the trade bait necessary to fix the Reds' starting-pitcher problems. And what problems those have been. Tom Browning had to be sent to Nashville and, worse, then had to be recalled with a 7.76 ERA. Mario Soto's comeback fell short. Cincy went 0-7 trying out Jerry Reuss before releasing him. Pete Rose's frontline staff now consists of Browning, Bill Gullickson, Guy Hoffman, Ted Power and Ron Robinson. Power effectively moved from the bullpen to the rotation last year, and Robinson has done the same this year, but that robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul solution has placed a heavy burden on relievers John Franco and Rob Murphy.

Still, Cincy has managed to hold off both San Francisco and Houston. That's because the Giants have had even more injury problems than the Reds. In 86 games, manager Roger Craig has used 72 different lineups. Giants G.M. Al Rosen has bolstered the pitching for the second half with the first major trade of the season, obtaining lefthanders Dave Dravecky and Craig Lefferts from the Padres. Dravecky is a proven starter who is fully recovered from arm trouble, and Lefferts gives the Giants a lefthanded reliever to fit in with Scott Garrelts and Jeff Robinson. "We're putting the pieces together," says Craig.

But don't count out the Astros. "Not as long as they have that pitching," says Whitey Herzog. Mike Scott is shedding the Cy Young jinx, Jim Deshaies keeps improving, and Nolan Ryan's bad luck (the major reason he is 4-10) has to turn around. The team still suffers from a lack of consistent production at catcher, short and third base. However, manager Hal Lanier's principal concern isn't with the hitting, even though Houston has outscored only two other teams in the NL (the Padres and the Dodgers). What he wants is second-line pitching, because there has been little bullpen help for Dave Smith.

The other half of the division lives with varying degrees of hope and despair. This year, without Bob Horner, the Braves have averaged one run more per game, thanks to Dale Murphy and Ken Griffey and a change toward a hit-and-run offense. Atlanta is just trying to remain respectable until G.M. Bobby Cox rebuilds its bankrupt farm system.

The Padres had 17 clubhouse meetings in April and May and won only 12 games, but lately they have begun to improve, with the help of young players like Benito Santiago and Shane Mack. On their side of the Dravecky-Lefferts trade with the Giants, the Padres hope that pitcher Mark Grant can harness his considerable talent, that Mark Davis (26-49 lifetime) sheds his can't-win label and that third baseman Chris Brown—who one scout says "is as good a player as there is if he feels like playing"—hits 30 homers.

The team with the deepest problems? The Dodgers. Al Campanis's replacement, Fred Claire, last week was shopping Mike Marshall, who had a much-publicized feud with Pedro Guerrero. (The White Sox said no when Claire offered Marshall for Ivan Calderon.) So far, all the Dodgers have been able to do—other than grab centerfielder John Shelby from the Orioles—is to pick up such released or unwanted players as Mickey Hatcher, Phil Garner, Tito Landrum, Danny Heep and Brad Havens. Last week they lost three games in one day to the Cardinals (the last ended at 4:02 a.m. EDT, after extra innings). And it's only going to get worse. Two teams that scouted the Dodgers' top two farm clubs claim the only prospect is third baseman Jeff Hamilton. Branch Rickey, who built the Dodgers' winning tradition, must be spinning in his grave.

BILL JAMES GOES BY THE NUMBERS

In the '80s, only two division champions have repeated (the '80-81 Phillies and '84-85 Royals), a dramatic drop-off from previous decades. This year? At the All-Star break, the Mets, Astros, Angels and Red Sox were a combined 28½ games back. Since the beginning of professional baseball, the gap between the best teams and the worst has grown steadily smaller (note the decline in the winning percentage of championship teams). Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould has likened this pattern to that of the evolving conformity of characteristics within a species. What it means in baseball terms is that championship teams do not tower over the league the way they once did—and that repeat champs will be an increasingly rare breed.

Buried by home runs is the fact that stolen bases are up this season, particularly in the AL, despite the strong inverse relationship that historically exists between HRs and SBs. The number of steals in the AL has shot up by 17% over last year, sparking an inevitable resumption of the lively-shoe debate. "The shoes this year are definitely livelier," says NBC broadcaster Bob Costas. "I can't imagine how many bases Mantle might have stolen if he had had these shoes." Spokesmen for all the major shoe companies have flatly denied charges of juiced-up spikes, though the player stats here clearly provide cause for suspicion. But the real reason for the surge of stolen bases in the AL is a shortage of quality catchers. Though the league is awash in promising talent at the position (Dave Valle, Terry Steinbach, Matt Nokes, B.J. Surhoff), the defensive skill there doesn't yet match the new speed—or the new shoes.

After three years of remarkably little change in the won-lost statistics indicating the relative strength of each of the four divisions, the rankings at the All-Star break suggest that a significant shake-up is in the works. The NL East, with the best balance top-to-bottom, has replaced the AL East, with no help from Cleveland and Baltimore, as the strongest division overall, and the AL West has at last shed its status as the divisional doormat. The prognostication here, in fact, is that within a couple of years, thanks to an influx of young talent on long-suffering teams like Seattle, Minnesota, Oakland and Texas, the AL West will dominate the AL East as much as they once were dominated. The youthful NL West, with Cincinnati and San Francisco, was dragged down this year by the Padres' horrendous start, but it also figures to make strides against its aging eastern counterpart.

The decline of the once proud Dodger organization has held form thus far in '87 (39-49) with crafty moves like this: On May 29 the Dodgers released Bill Madlock, the 36-year-old third baseman who fielded .910 last year; three weeks later, they traded for Phil Garner, who is 38 and fielded .896. But if L.A. has gone to hell in a hack, the Baltimore Orioles have chartered a jet, losing 31 of their last 40. The plight of both teams reached a nadir on May 22 with the Tom Niedenfuer-for-John Shelby trade: The Dodgers decided to solve their centerfield problems by trading with the Orioles, who don't have a centerfielder of their own, while the Orioles tried to solve their bullpen problem by trading with the Dodgers, whose top relief pitcher has an ERA several dollars above the minimum wage. Have these organizations fallen apart or simply fallen victim to the times? When ballplayers were paid a fraction of the income that could be recovered by retailing their services, there was no economic pressure on teams to hire top-quality management. When owners were faced with the possibility of making million-dollar mistakes, front-office quality changed dramatically. No longer can a few shrewd or wealthy organizations, like the Orioles and Dodgers, solve their problems overnight by pillaging unwary teams.

Over the past three years, home runs, walks and strikeouts have all increased. Meanwhile, the average length of a major league game grew from 2:36 in 1984 to 2:49 in 1987. Why these concurrent trends? Longer counts. More hitters are looking for a pitch they can take out of the park—taking one, fouling one off, sorting them out. Fewer hitters are swinging at the first or second pitch. That leads to more full counts, which result in more walks and strikeouts—and longer games.

If records are made to be broken, lively-ball seasons are made to break them in. Mark McGwire figures to crack the rookie home run mark (38) before the pennant race even starts. Ozzie Virgil, of all people, is nearly on pace to exceed the standard for home runs by a catcher (40). Certain records, though, seem monumental. We've seen so many great hitters make a run at .400 and fall short that we casually conclude that nobody will ever hit .400 again. Don't kid yourself: The odds that we will have a .400 hitter in 1987 are no longer than 5-1. Two great hitters, Boggs and Gwynn, are approaching it, and either is capable of hitting .430 for two months. But for every hitting record that changes hands, the argument will be heard that the new record was tainted, that the ball was too lively and the strike zone too small. The argument disdains the essence of historical context: that all records are set when conditions are optimal for such a record. Henry Aaron would not have hit 755 home runs had he not played for nine years in one of baseball's best home run parks. Roger Maris set his homer mark with a 296-foot rightfield line. Hack Wilson's 190 RBIs were achieved with a ball that was intentionally juiced to the point that the league as a whole hit .303. If the batting records set this year are not legitimate, then there are no records whose parentage cannot be disputed.

IN HONOR OF THE ODDITIES

In an unpredictable year, baseball has given fans some unprecedented achievements

MR. DIPLOMACY
To Bo Jackson of the Kansas City Royals/Los Angeles Raiders. Bo's announcement that he may take up NFL football this fall as a "hobby" was a big hit with his teammates, many of whom have clauses in their contracts restricting them from any sort of risky extracurricular behavior. Said teammate George Brett, "I'm thinking about taking up Brahma bull riding and sword fighting."

WORST TRADE
The Phillies traded OF Gary Redus to the White Sox for RHP Joe Cowley. Redus is hitting .213—and still the White Sox got the better deal. Cowley went 0-4 in Philadelphia and was sent to Maine, where in four consecutive starts he allowed 14 base runners in 2⅖ innings, 14 more in 3 innings, then hit four batters—including three in succession—and walked four in 5 innings, then allowed 16 base runners in 5 innings. Cowley is 3-8, 7.28, with 70 walks in 59‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings for Maine.

BILL LEE AWARD

To Joe Magrane, St. Louis Cardinals rookie. The loquacious lefty has been a reporter's dream in the post-game locker room. Three sample quotes:

•"After all the X-rays [elbow], my fastball may take on an opaque-type glow."

•"I knew I was in big trouble when they started clocking my fastball with a sundial."

•"I passed my time by reading a book. It was called J.F.K., the Man and the Airport."

USELESS TRADE
Toronto dealt Damaso Garcia and pitcher Luis Leal to the Braves for pitcher Craig McMurtry. Garcia hasn't played and faces knee surgery, Leal was returned and exiled to the Mexican League, and McMurtry came down with appendicitis and is pitching in the Southern League.

WEIRD-STAT AWARD
Pirate outfielder John Cangelosi has the same number of runs (22) as hits. Runner-up: White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice has twice as many K's (40 in 85 at bats) as hits, walks and runs combined.

FINELY TUNED MACHINE
Houston's Charlie Kerfeld was sent to the minors weighing around 265. In his first 7‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings at Tucson, he gave up 14 runs and 11 walks. But his 4.74 ERA in Arizona didn't deter manager Hal Lanier from wanting to bring him back last week to bolster a pitiful middle-relief staff. However, G.M. Dick Wagner said he wouldn't make the move until Kerfeld got down to 250 pounds. Kerfeld checked into Houston last Saturday—at 250 on the nose.

HOW BAD WAS IT?
As a type-B free agent, former Brewers catcher Charlie Moore knew no major league team would sign him until after the June draft, when no compensation would be required. So he hooked on with the independent San Jose Bees. The airplane ticket the Bees sent put him in the middle seat between two enormous women. After renting a car and driving to his first workout, he took the field and was immediately hit in the knee by a line drive. Informed that there was no trainer around, Moore drove to a 7-Eleven and bought five bags of ice for his knee. When he returned to the car, the battery was dead.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING
Angels reliever DeWayne Buice roamed the minors for 10 years, making stops in Great Falls, Cedar Rapids, Fresno, West Haven, Midland and Nuevo Laredo. He was left unprotected in the Giants' minor league system and released by both the A's and the Indians. At the All-Star break, Buice had as many saves, nine, as the Boston Red Sox.

THAT'S MY BOY
On June 24, Red Sox reserve catcher Marc Sullivan ripped Boston fans for booing. "That showed the kind of fans we've got here; they don't give a damn," he said. Sullivan's father is a part owner of the team, which had 1986 profits of some $9.5 million.

THAT'S BETTER
When the Yankees sent righthander Charles Hudson down to Columbus, his record was 7-2; he was recalled after going 0-2, 6.07.

PHOTORONALD C. MODRABefore going back, Kerfeld had to slim down.

A REVIEW OF THE PREVIEW

Sometimes things don't turn out quite the way you expect them to. Like the entire first half of the 1987 baseball season. In the April 6 issue of SI, we confidently made our predictions. On your left, the way we saw it then; on your right, the way it was at midseason (the figure following the current rankings indicates a plus or minus when compared with our preseason picks). The biggest booms: the Expos, Cubs, Tigers and Twins. The biggest busts: the Mets, Indians, Phillies, Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

PRESEASON PICK

MVP—Eric Davis, Cincinnati

CY YOUNG AWARD—Ron Darling, New York

BATTING CHAMPION—Tim Raines, unsigned

HR CHAMPION—Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia

RBI CHAMPION—Davis

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR—Benito Santiago, San Diego

FIREMAN OF THE YEAR—Lee Smith, Chicago

MIDSEASON PICK

MVP—Jack Clark, St. Louis

CY YOUNG AWARD—Mike Scott, Houston

BATTING CHAMPION—Tony Gwynn, San Diego

HR CHAMPION—Dale Murphy, Atlanta

RBI CHAMPION—Clark

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR—Santiago

FIREMAN OF THE YEAR—Steve Bedrosian, Philadelphia

AMERICAN LEAGUE

PRESEASON PICK

MVP—Don Mattingly, New York

CY YOUNG AWARD—Danny Jackson, Kansas City

BATTING CHAMPION—Wade Boggs, Boston

HR CHAMPION—Dan Pasqua, New York

RBI CHAMPION—Mattingly

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR—B.J. Surhoff, Milwaukee

FIREMAN OF THE YEAR—Dave Righetti, New York

MIDSEASON PICK

MVP—George Bell, Toronto

CY YOUNG AWARD—Bret Saberhagen, Kansas City

BATTING CHAMPION—Boggs

HR CHAMPION—Mark McGwire, Oakland

RBI CHAMPION—Bell

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR—McGwire

FIREMAN OF THE YEAR—Dan Plesac, Milwaukee

Bill James is a sabermetrician and author of the annual "Baseball Abstract."

PRESEASON RANKINGS

1)

New York Mets

2)

Cincinnati Reds

3)

Cleveland Indians

4)

Toronto Blue Jays

5)

New York Yankees

6)

Philadelphia Phillies

7)

Houston Astros

8)

Los Angeles Dodgers

9)

Texas Rangers

10)

Boston Red Sox

11)

St. Louis Cardinals

12)

Oakland Athletics

13)

San Francisco Giants

14)

California Angels

15)

Kansas City Royals

16)

Minnesota Twins

17)

Detroit Tigers

18)

Baltimore Orioles

19)

San Diego Padres

20)

Milwaukee Brewers

21)

Chicago Cubs

22)

Chicago White Sox

23)

Pittsburgh Pirates

24)

Montreal Expos

25)

Atlanta Braves

26)

Seattle Mariners

MIDSEASON RANKINGS

1) St. Louis Cardinals

+10

2) New York Yankees

+3

3) Toronto Blue Jays

+1

4) Detroit Tigers

+13

5) Minnesota Twins

+11

6) Montreal Expos

+18

7) New York Mets

-6

8) Cincinnati Reds

-6

9) Chicago Cubs

+12

10) Oakland Athletics

+2

11) Kansas City Royals

+4

12) California Angels

+2

13) Seattle Mariners

+13

14) Houston Astros

-7

15) San Francisco Giants

-2

16) Milwaukee Brewers

+4

17) Philadelphia Phillies

-11

18) Texas Rangers

-9

19) Atlanta Braves

+6

20) Boston Red Sox

-10

21) Pittsburgh Pirates

+2

22) Los Angeles Dodgers

-14

23) Chicago White Sox

-1

24) Baltimore Orioles

-6

25) Cleveland Indians

-22

26) San Diego Padres

-7

AL EAST

'86 FINISH

W

L

GB

BOSTON

95

66

NEW YORK

90

72

5 1/2

DETROIT

87

75

8 1/2

TORONTO

86

76

9 1/2

CLEVELAND

84

78

11 1/2

MILWAUKEE

77

84

18

BALTIMORE

73

89

22 1/2

'87 PREDICTION

W

L

GB

CLEVELAND

94

68

TORONTO

93

69

1

NEW YORK

92

70

2

BOSTON

86

76

8

DETROIT

79

83

15

BALTIMORE

76

86

18

MILWAUKEE

72

90

22

'87 MIDSEASON

W

L

GB

NEW YORK

55

34

TORONTO

51

36

3

DETROIT

48

37

5

MILWAUKEE

42

43

11

BOSTON

41

47

13 1/2

BALTIMORE

35

53

19 1/2

CLEVELAND

31

56

23

AL WEST

'86 FINISH

W

L

GB

CALIFORNIA

92

70

TEXAS

87

75

5

KANSAS CITY

76

86

16

OAKLAND

76

86

16

CHICAGO

72

90

20

MINNESOTA

71

91

21

SEATTLE

67

95

75

'87 PREDICTION

W

L

GB

TEXAS

87

75

OAKLAND

84

78

3

CALIFORNIA

82

80

5

KANSAS CITY

81

81

6

MINNESOTA

80

82

7

CHICAGO

68

94

19

SEATTLE

60

102

27

'87 MIDSEASON

W

L

GB

MINNESOTA

49

40

KANSAS CITY

46

41

2

OAKLAND

46

41

2

CALIFORNIA

46

43

3

SEATTLE

45

43

3 1/2

TEXAS

41

45

6 1/2

CHICAGO

34

51

13

NL EAST

'86 FINISH

W

L

GB

NEW YORK

108

54

PHILADELPHIA

86

75

21 1/2

ST. LOUIS

79

82

28 1/2

MONTREAL

78

83

29 1/2

CHICAGO

70

90

37

PITTSBURGH

64

98

44

'37 PREDICTION

W

L

GB

NEW YORK

100

62

PHILADELPHIA

90

72

10

ST. LOUIS

85

77

15

CHICAGO

71

91

29

PITTSBURGH

67

95

33

MONTREAL

64

98

36

'87 MIDSEASON

W

L

GB

ST. LOUIS

56

30

MONTREAL

47

39

9

NEW YORK

47

40

9 1/2

CHICAGO

47

41

10

PHILADELPHIA

42

44

14

PITTSBURGH

39

48

17 1/2

NL WEST

'86 FINISH

W

L

GB

HOUSTON

96

66

CINCINNATI

86

76

10

SAN FRANCISCO

83

79

13

SAN DIEGO

74

88

22

LOS ANGELES

73

89

23

ATLANTA

72

89

23 1/2

'87 PREDICTION

W

L

GB

CINCINNATI

97

65

HOUSTON

89

73

8

LOS ANGELES

88

74

9

SAN FRANCISCO

83

79

14

SAN DIEGO

75

87

22

ATLANTA

63

99

34

'87 MIDSEASON

W

L

GB

CINCINNATI

47

41

HOUSTON

44

43

2 1/2

SAN FRANCISCO

44

44

3

ATLANTA

41

46

5 1/2

LOS ANGELES

39

49

8

SAN DIEGO

30

58

17

NO REPEATERS, NO REPEATERS

YEARS

REPEATS

CHANCES

PCT.

1880-1889

7

18

39

1890-1899

6

11

55

1900-1909

8

19

42

1910-1919

5

21

24

1920-1929

8

20

40

1930-1939

8

20

40

1940-1949

5

20

25

1950-1959

9

20

45

1960-1969

8

22

36

1970-1979

18

40

45

1980-1986

2

24

8

AVERAGE RECORD OF CHAMPIONS

YEARS

WON

LOST

PCT.

1880-1889

78

34

.696

1890-1899

92

44

.676

1900-1909

96

51

.658

1910-1919

95

53

.642

1920-1929

96

57

.627

1930-1939

98

55

.641

1940-1949

98

56

.636

1950-1959

97

57

.630

1960-1969

99

62

.615

1970-1979

96

65

.596

1980-1985

90

64

.584

THE RABBIT-FOOT FACTOR

GAMES

STOLEN
BASES

CAUGHT
STEALING

PCT.

PER TEAM

1984 SEASON

1,134

1,304

735

.640

93

MIDSEASON 1986

565

758

398

.656

54

FINAL 1986

1,134

1,470

762

.659

105

MIDSEASON 1987

603

922

438

.678

66

PROJECTED FINAL

1,134

1,734

824

.678

124

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987*

PHIL BRADLEY

3

21

22

21

46

TONY FERNANDEZ

0

5

13

25

43

CARNEY LANSFORD

3

9

2

16

35

PETE INCAVIGLIA

3

15

* Projected

WHEN EAST MEETS WEST

1984

W

L

PCT.

AL EAST

593

540

.523

NL EAST

504

466

.520

NL WEST

467

505

.480

AL WEST

540

593

.477

1985

AL EAST

575

554

.509

NL EAST

492

477

.508

NL WEST

478

493

.492

AL WEST

556

577

.491

1986

AL EAST

592

540

.523

NL EAST

485

482

.502

NL WEST

484

487

.498

AL WEST

541

593

.477

1987*

NL EAST

278

242

.535

AL WEST

307

304

.502

AL EAST

303

306

.498

NL WEST

245

281

.466

* As of midseason

DOWN GO THE DYNASTIES

ORIOLES

YEARS

W—L

PER 162
GAMES

PCT.

1960-1969

911-698

92-70

.566

1970-1979

944-656

96-66

.590

1980-1983

351-240

96-66

.594

1984-1987

276-297

78-84

.482

DODGERS

YEARS

W—L

PER 162
GAMES

PCT.

1940-1949

894-646

94-68

.581

1950-1959

913-630

96-66

.592

1960-1969

878-729

89-73

.546

1970-1979

910-701

92-70

.565

1980-1983

334-263

91-71

.559

1984-1987

286-288

81-81

.498

UP FOR THE COUNT

HOME RUNS PER GAME

YEAR

AL

NL

1984

1.75

1.32

1985

1.92

1.47

1986

2.02

1.57

1987*

2.41

1.99

*As of midseason

STRIKEOUTS PER GAME

1984

10.2

11.3

1985

10.4

11.0

1986

11.5

12.0

1987*

12.0

12.2

*As of midseason

WALKS PER GAME

1984

6.3

6.3

1985

6.6

6.6

1986

6.8

6.8

1987*

7.1

6.8

*As of midseason

A VERY GOOD YEAR (PROJECTED 1987 TOTALS)

HR

RBI

SB

AVG.

NOTE

GEORGE BELL

54

142

4

.298

No AL player has hit 50 homers since 1961.

WADE BOGGS

31

101

0

.375

Now nine hits below .400 and with power.

JACK CLARK

49

162

2

.311

Last with 150 RBIs was Tommy Davis, 1962.

VINCE COLEMAN

0

43

98

.288

Capable of stepping up stolen-base pace.

ERIC DAVIS

50

125

61

.321

No player has ever had 40 HRs/40 SBs.

ANDRE DAWSON

44

136

13

.299

Career high in homers is 32.

TONY GWYNN

9

63

53

.370

Now 10 hits below .400 and with speed.

MARK McGWIRE

61

127

0

.294

On course to challenge Maris.

DALE MURPHY

47

114

19

.309

Career high in homers is 37.

OZZIE SMITH

0

87

43

.301

A shot at 100 RBIs without a homer.

OZZIE VIRGIL

37

80

0

.232

Only catchers to hit 40: Bench, Campanella.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)