In 2002, Alfonso Soriano gave the Yankees his all, accumulating some great stats, and Ted Williams, the "Splendid Splinter" passed away. Here are some of the headlines from the 2002 baseball season:
David Eckstein, Anderson Power Angels
Two unheralded players helped spark the 2002 Angels to a team-record 99 wins. All-Star outfielder Garret Anderson (right) contributed a .306 average with 123 RBI and a league-leading 56 doubles. Scrappy shortstop David Eckstein scored 107 runs and paced the league (for the second straight season) in both hit-by-pitches (27) and sac bunts (14). Eckstein, who clubbed just eight homers, also led the majors with three grand slams.
Shawn Green Socks Four HRs-And Six Hits
On May 23 in Milwaukee, Shawn Green of the Dodgers enjoyed one of the greatest days ever for a hitter. Green went 6-for-6 with four homers, a double, and a single off the hapless Brewers in a 16-3 pounding, driving in seven runs. Green became the 14th big-leaguer in history to belt four homers in one contest. Moreover, his 19 total bases set a major league single-game record.
Alfonso Soriano's a Smash in New York
Alfonso Soriano made the Yankees' machine run in 2002. The young Dominican enjoyed a spectacular campaign, hitting .300 with 51 doubles, 39 homers (eight of them leading off a game), and 41 stolen bases. This made him the first second baseman ever to reach the 30-homers, 30-steals club. Though Soriano fanned 157 times and drew just 23 walks, he led the American League in both runs (128) and hits (209).
Vladimir Guerrero Amasses 40 HRs, 39 SBs
Montreal outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, a legitimate MVP candidate stuck with a nearly invisible franchise, led the National League in 2002 with 206 hits and 364 total bases, batting .336 (third best in the league) with 111 RBI. A dazzling blend of speed and power, he stole 40 bases and swatted 39 home runs. He came "that short" of becoming the majors' fourth 40-40 man when his long fly during the season's final game banged off the wall.
Ted Williams Passes On
Ted Williams once said that he wanted people to look at him and say, "There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived." By the time he died at age 83 on July 5, 2002, he had realized his ambition. The "Splendid Splinter," still the last man to hit .400 in a season, was respected by current players as well as his contemporaries. Unlike many old-timers, he kept up with the game he loved.
Jim Thome Bids Adieu After 52 Homers
In his final year with Cleveland, Jim Thome slugged 52 home runs in 2002, adding to his legacy as the team's all-time longball king. His 334 homers in Tribal garb were nearly 100 more than any other Indians player had ever hit. In 2002, Thome also knocked in 118 runs and paced the American League in both walks (122) and slugging percentage (.677). Following 12 years with Cleveland, he signed with the Phillies for 2003.
2002 Cardinals Overcome Tragedy
Pitcher Darryl Kile died unexpectedly on June 22, 2002. Kile had been one of the Cardinals' top starters as well as a beloved team leader. His jersey hung in the Cardinals dugout for the rest of the season. The club could have been forgiven for crumbling, but instead the Cards came together and captured the National League Central by 13 games.
John Smoltz Snuffs Out the Fires
Former starter John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves made a successful conversion to the bullpen after two years of elbow problems. In 2002, his first full season as a closer, Smoltz saved 55 games to establish a National League record. He blew just four save opportunities during the year and fanned 85 men in 80 innings.
Check out more headlines from the 2002 baseball season on the next page.