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A Guide to the 1988 Baseball Season

A Harvard Crimson Sports Cube Special Edition

By Julio R. Varela

The American League

Baltimore (67-95, AL East sixth): Hello, Papa Ripken, where's your pitching? The Birds had the worst ERA (5.01) in Oriole history. Last year, no O won more than 12 games. Mike Morgan won 12, but lost 17. Ripken's two sons, Cal (27 HR, 98 RBI) and Billy (.308), will bolster the Baltimore offense. And when will Eddie Murray (30 HR, 91 RBI) stop being so consistent? Best player: Larry Sheets (.316, 31 HR, 94 RBI in just 135 games).

Boston (78-54, AL East, fifth): Lee Smith (36 saves) could be the savior of the once non-existent Boston bullpen. The Sox have strong starters in Roger Clemens, Oil Can Boyd and Bruce Hurst. Also, new faces such as Mike Greenwell (.328, 19 HR, 89 RBI), Ellis Burks (20 HR) and Sam Horn (14 HR in 46 games) can turn Fenway into a funhouse this summer. Best player: Wade Boggs (.363, 24 HR, 89 RBI).

California (75-87, AL West, tied for sixth): Johnny Ray is an Angel, so is Chili Davis (.250, 24 HR, 76 RBI) and Dan Petry (9-7). Mike Witt leads the Angel staff, but will reliever DeWayne Bulce hold the Cal pen? The Angels will need good years from Brian Downing (29 HR, 77 RBI) and Wally Joyner. Best player: Joyner (.285, 34 HR, 117 RBI).

Chicago (77-85, AL West, fifth): Rick Horton (8-3) is Chicago's ace of the staff. Right. Hal Baines (.293, 20 HR, 93 RBI) and Ivan Calderon can't do everything. Best player: Calderon (.293, 28 HR, 83 RBI).

Cleveland (61-101, AL East, seventh): Bill Caudill, Greg Harris and Bill Laskey--what a pitching trio. Joe Carter and Brook Jacoby (.300, 32 HR, 69 RBI) can both hit 70 homers and the Tribe would still drown in Lake Erie. Best player: Carter (.264, 32 HR, 106 RBI).

Detroit (98-64, AL East, first): The Tigers might have some pitching. But where's the offense? Kirk Gibson is a big loss, and if Sparky Anderson thinks Gary Pettis (.208, 17 RBI) or Ray Knight (.256, 14 HR, 65 RBI) can alleviate the loss of Big Kirk, then it will be a long summer in Motown. Best player: Alan Trammell (.343, 28 Hr, 105 RBI).

Kansas City (83-79, AL West, second): The Royals have some youth in Kevin Seitzer (.322, 15 HR, 83 RBI) and Danny Tartabull. George Brett (.290, 22 HR) still has some pop in his bat. But Dan Quisemberry is not the ace reliever he once was. And the loss of Danny Jackson to the Reds hurt KC's starting staff. Best player: Tartabull (.309, 34 HR, 101 RBI).

Milwaukee (91-71, AL East, third): The Brew Crew was brewing towards the end of the season, but without a healthy Paul Molitor (.353), Milwaukee will fizz. Lefthander Teddy Higuera (18-10) is a quality starter, but will reliever Dan Plesac falter like he did last year? Rob Deer, who hit 28 homers last year, struck out 186 times to set a league record. Best player: Robin Yount (.303, 21 HR, 103 RBI).

Minnesota (85-77, AL West, first): The Miracle Twins will find it hard to repeat. They made no major off-season moves. The offense is solid, but if Minnesota thinks Joe Niekro (4-9, 6.26 ERA) and Steve Carlton (1-5, 6.70 ERA) still have arms, then the Twins will trip over their championship laurels. Best player: Kent Hrbek (.285, 34 HR, 90 RBI).

New York (89-73, AL East, fourth): This is the best offense in the division. And if Jack Clark's legs can hold up, the boys from the Bronx will be making some noise this summer. But can Rich Dotson and John Candelaria really help a questionable pitching staff? If so, the Bombers can win the pennant. If not, then the Yanks should be winning a lot of 10-9 games this year. Best player: Don Mattingly (.327, 30 HR, 115 RBI).

Oakland (81-81, AL West, third): This is a scary team for a Western club. Dave Parker (26 HR, 97 RBI), Bob Welch (15-9) and Matt Young (5-8) just may be what the A's need to capture the title. Don't forget about Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco (31 HR) and Terry Steinbach (16 HR). Dave Stewart won 20 games last year. Best player: McGwire (.280, 49 HR, 118 RBI).

Seattle (78-84, AL West, fourth): A lot of young players (Alvin Davis, Hal Reynolds) and some consistent pitching (Mark Langston) have turned the Mariners into a contender. The deal for the Phillies' Glenn Wilson (.264, 14 HR, 54 RBI) and Baltimore's Ken Dixon (7-10) might help Dick Williams' club. Best player: Davis (.295, 29 HR, 100 RBI).

Texas (75-87, AL West, tied for sixth): Bobby Valentine has the young talent. Now he just has to corral it. Youngsters Jose Guzman (14-14) and Ed Correa (3-5) have the arms. Pete Incaviglia (27 HR, 80 RBI) has the power. Vets Larry Parrish (32 HR, 100 RBI) and Charlie Hough (18-13) still have some magic left in them. Best player: Ruben Sierra (.263, 30 HR, 109 RBI).

Toronto (96-66, AL East, second): How often can the Jays choke? Here's a team with a solid bullpen (Tom Henke, Mark Eichorn and Harvard's own Jeff Musselman) but with some inconsistent starting pitching (Mike Flanagan?). Can MVP George Bell adjust to the DH slot? Can an infield that can't produce any offense, except for SS Tony Fernandez (.322), finally wake up? Best player: Bell (.308, 47 HR, 134 RBI).

The National League

Atlanta (69-92, NL West, fifth): No way. Dale Murphy and Dion James (.312, 10 HR, 61 HR) can't both pitch and still play the outfield. Best player: Murphy (.295, 44 HR, 105 RBI).

Chicago (76-85, NL East, sixth): Goose Gossage (1-1, 6.89 ERA in 32 innings for the Cubs) is the new stopper, along with Calvin Schiraldi (8-5 with Boston). Rick Sutcliffe (18-10, 3.68 ERA) is the only pitcher who stands out among the ivy troops at Wrigley. National League MVP Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg (.294, 16 HR, 59 RBI) will be the only good news coming out of Wrigley this season. Best player: Dawson (.287, 49 HR, 137 RBI).

Cinncinati (84-78, NL West, second): The starters, led by KC fireballer Danny Jackson (9-18) and Dennis Rasmussen (4-1), are potentially strong. The bullpen, led by John Franco (32 saves), is one of the best in the league. A possible Mario Soto comeback just might do it for the Reds. Last year, Soto finished the season at 3-2. Eric Davis and the rest of the Reds offense will score the runs. In 108 games, outfielder Kal Daniels hit 26 HR and batted .334. Best player: Davis (.293, 37 HR, 100 RBI).

Houston (76-86, NL West third) Joaquin Andujar is back. He will probably help Houston's already strong staff. Mike Scott (16-13) and Nolan Ryan (8-16, 2.76 ERA) still can throw smoke. The Astros have some fine talent in Bill Hatcher (.296, 11 HR, 63 RBI) and Glen Davis. But to turn this season around, the Astros cannot choke like they did after August. Last year, the Astros lost 26 of their final 37 games. Best player: Davis (.251, 27 HR, 93 RBI).

Los Angeles: Kirk Gibson (.277, 24 HR, 79 RBI), Alfredo Griffin (.263, 60 RBI), Jesse Orosco (3-9), Mike Davis (22 HR) and Jay Howell (3-4) all decided that southern California is a nice place to play ball. But where will all these guys play? Fernando Valenzuela (14-14) leads the staff, but the boys in Blue can't field. Case in point: Steve ("Stone Hands") Sax, who leads a Dodger bumbling crew that led the majors in errors (155). Best player: Pedro Guerrero (.338, 27 HR, 89 RBI).

Montreal (91-71, NL East, third): The Expos have the offense to stay close. Tim Wallach (.298, 26 HR, 123 RBI) and Tim Raines lead the Expo attack. Yet, the double-play combo of rookies Luis Rivera and Johnny Paredes will start for the first time. The return of Floyd Youmans from the Jacksonville minor league club will certainly help the staff. Too bad the Mets are in their division. Best player: Raines (.330, 18 HR, 68 RBI).

New York (92-70, NL East, second): Once Jack Clark left the division, the Mets started checking to see if their set of keys fit the NL East's lock. With the strongest starting staff in the division, the Mets will have no problems humming the seams. Darryl Strawberry and Co. should keep the offense gunning. Dwight ("Dr. K") Gooden (15-7) won't be taking the early season off this year. Best player: Strawberry (.284, 39 HR, 104 RBI).

Philadelphia (80-82, NL East, tied for fourth): Phil Bradley (.297, 14 HR, 67 RBI) and Bob Dernier (.317) are two new acquisitions the Phils needed. Steve ("Bedrock") Bedrosian (40 saves), last year's Cy Young winner, is one of the league's premier relievers. Thirty-eight year old Mike Schmidt still has the pop. But the Phils need some defense up the middle. Shortstop Steve Jeltz had more errors (14) than RBI (12). Best player: Schmidt (.293, 35 HR, 113 RBI).

Pittsburgh (80-82, NL East, tied for fourth): This team is young. Brian Fisher (11-9) and Bob Kipper (5-9) are the only two starters with more than two years of playing experience. Mike Dunne (13-6, 3.03 ERA) led the staff in victories. Mike LaVellere (.300) and Andy Van Slyke, former St. Louis players, sure made that deal for Tony Pena look good. Best player: Van Slyke (.293, 21 HR, 82 RBI).

San Diego (65-97, NL West, sixth): This team is brewing with youth. Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago (.300, 18 HR, 79 RBI) and John Kruk (.313, 20 HR, 91 RBI) head the Padre kiddie corps. But where's the pitching? Ed Whitson (10-13) and Eric Show (8-16)? Keith Moreland (.266, 27 HR, 88 RBI), acquired from Chicago, will help the San Diego offense. Best player: Tony Gwynn (.370, 7 HR, 54 RBI).

San Francisco (90-72, NL West, first): The Giants made a great off-season move when they signed Cleveland's Brett Butler (.295, 9 HR, 49 RBI). He'll join Will Clark and Jeffrey Leonard (.280, 19 HR, 63 RBI) in the line-up. The staff is sound, led by Dave Dravecky (7-5), Rick Reuschel (8-6) and reliever Don Robinson (5-1, 2.74 ERA). The double-dip combo of Robby Thompson and Jose Uribe give the Giants strength up the middle. Best player: Clark (.308, 35 HR, 91 RBI).

St. Louis (95-67, NL East, first): So long, Jack Clark and hello, Bob Horner? This is not Japan, Big Bob (.327, 31 HR, 73 RBI in 93 Japanese games). The Cards will need some punch from Willie McGee and Tommy Herr (.263, 2 HR, 83 RBI). John Tudor (10-2) and the rest of the staff will have to keep the runs on the low side for the Cards to even think of repeating. Best player: McGee (.285, 11 HR, 105 RBI).

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