Since Mark "Big Mac" McGwire announced his retirement last November at the age of 38, players like Chicago's Sammy Sosa will jostle for a larger share of the vacated spotlight. Last year, the 33-year-old Cubbie knocked 160 RBIs, 64 home runs (second only to Bonds), and finished up with a .328 average. He has a good shot this season at taking home a match to the home run title he won in 2000.
There must be something to Colorado's Rocky Mountain high, because two of the National League's most consistent high-altitude hitters play for the Rockies. Todd Helton, known as one of the most natural hitters in the game, is looking to improve on the 146 RBI, 49 home run, .336 average he racked up last season. "This year I'd like to hit the ball the other way a little more, cut down on my strikeouts, and hit for a higher average," says Helton. Speaking of averages, Helton's teammate, right fielder Larry Walker, came out on top of the National League batting averages last year with an impressive .350. Take into account Walker's 38 home runs and 123 RBIs, and you've got to acknowledge the excellent chance that this duo can take the Rockies to new heights in 2002.
In 2001, Arizona won the World Series for the first time since the team began playing in 1998, and the big names tossed around (think SI's 2001 Sportsman of the Year) were the guys out on the mound - Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. Among the guys to watch this year when the Diamondbacks take the plate is last year's leader, Luis "Gonzo" Gonzalez, who knocked out 57 homers, batted 142 RBIs, and finished up the regular season with a .325 average. As the first D-Back to drive in 100 runs in consecutive seasons, expect him to have the world champs back on top again this year.