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All-star Break

July 08, 2002

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Some big surprises and accomplishments of first half:

* Montreal Expos: Weren't they supposed to be contracted out of existence? Instead, they are in second place in the NL East and making a run at a wild-card spot.

* Shawn Green, Dodgers: Not only did he hit four homers in one game, he has carried the Dodger offense and is a solid MVP candidate.

* Lance Berkman, Houston: Who would have guessed Berkman would have the most homers in a league with Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa? And he also leads in RBIs.

* Luis Castillo, Florida: His 35-game hitting streak set record for longest streak by a second baseman in baseball history.

* Barry Bonds, San Francisco: It doesn't look as if he will hit 73 homers again, but he might be having a better season this year. He has an amazing on-base percentage of .556.

* Eric Gagne, Dodgers: Who better to close out the list than him?

Biggest disappointments and busts of the first half:

* San Diego Padres: Some thought they would challenge for the division title. Instead, they have the second-worst record in the league.

* Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn, Mets: Supposed to carry the Mets to the top. The Mets are still waiting.

* Ken Griffey Jr., Cincinnati: Has anyone's star fallen as fast as his?

* Sean Burroughs, San Diego: The Padres handed him the third base job, and he hit .221 with no power. A Little Leaguer could have done as well.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Some big surprises and accomplishments of first half:

* Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox: Third in batting average, tied for fourth in homers, tied for first in RBIs.

* Alfonso Soriano, New York Yankees: MVP candidate has shown power (20 homers) to go with his speed (23 steals).

* Derek Lowe, Boston: Booed off the field in Fenway last season, he has a no-hitter and a All-Star berth this season.

* Jarrod Washburn, Angels: They say Ramon Oritz is the ace, but Washburn leads staff with 9-2 record and 3.21 ERA.

* Johnny Damon, Boston: Another reason for the Red Sox's resurgence, he has bounced back from a poor season to hit better than .300 with more walks than strikeouts.

* Mike Cameron, Seattle: Hit four homers in one game, but that is about the only good game he has had.

Biggest disappointments and busts of the first half:

* Cleveland Indians: Started out 11-1, then faded fast and traded star pitcher Bartolo Colon while telling fans they won't compete until 2004. Good luck with those season-ticket sales for next year.

* John Rocker, Texas: For some reason, it seems appropriate that his ERA at the break is 6.66.

* Frank Thomas, Chicago: Hitting below .240, he shows up late after being benched for two games. Big Hurt become the Big Sulk.

* John Burkett, Boston: Announces in June that he won't go to the All-Star game if he's picked to prove a point to Bud Selig. Wow, an All-Star game without John Burkett? That's like a James Bond reunion without George Lazenby.

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Compiled by HOUSTON MITCHELL / Los Angeles Times

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