HOMERS UP SLIGHTLY: Despite the record-topping performances of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, home runs were up only slightly this year.

There were 5,064 home runs in 2,430 major league games this season, an average of 2.08. Even though it was an expansion year, home runs were up only 1.5 percent from the average of 2.05 homers per game in 1997.Baseball's record average of 2.19 was set in 1996, when 4,962 homers were hit.

The NL batting average dropped one point this year to .262 and the AL remained at .271. The NL ERA rose to 4.23 from 4.20 and the AL ERA rose from 4.56 to 4.65.

Attendance averaged 29,376, a 3.8 percent rise from last year's average of 28,228 and 16.3 percent above the 1995 average of 25,260. Still, attendance was 7 percent below the prestrike average of 31,612 in 1994.

L.A.'S HOFFMAN REPORTEDLY OUT: The Los Angeles Dodgers had two managers between 1954 and 1996 - both Hall of Famers. They had two this year alone, and it appears they will have another to start the 1999 season.

Glenn Hoffman won't return as the Los Angeles manager, and his coaching staff will also be replaced, the Orange County Register reported in Wednesday's editions.

The newspaper said the Dodgers planned to announce Wednesday that Hoffman and the coaches will be offered other jobs within the organization.

Hoffman, 40, guided the Dodgers to a 47-41 record after replacing Bill Russell, who was fired along with general manager Fred Claire on June 21.

Russell succeeded Tom Lasorda on July 29, 1996 - after Lasorda had a mild heart attack and was made a vice president of the team.

Dodgers spokesman Derrick Hall confirmed late Tuesday that general manager Kevin Malone met with Hoffman to discuss the 1999 season.

Hoffman was manager of the Dodgers' Albuquerque farm club of the Pacific Coast League when Russell was fired.

Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou is believed to be the leading candidate for the managerial job.

Believed to be other possibilities to succeed Hoffman are former Boston Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy and former Baltimore Orioles manager Davey Johnson. Neither worked for a baseball organization this year.

MLB NAMES ATTORNEY: An attorney for major league teams in various civil matters for the last eight years has been named an administrative vice president under baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

Robert A. DuPuy, 51, a member of a Milwaukee law firm, will move to New York as organized baseball's executive vice president and chief legal officer.

DuPuy assumes his new job at a time when owner-player relations are better than they have been in several years, he said Tuesday.

A big problem, he said, is the discrepancy between the incomes of rich and not-so-rich franchises, an observation made frequently by Selig, former president of the Milwaukee Brewers.

WOULD-BE STARS IN FALL LEAGUE: J.D. Drew, Eric Chavez, Braden Looper, Gabe Kapler.

Except maybe for Drew, they are familiar names only to the most fanatic baseball followers. But someday soon, they could be big-league stars, and for the next two months, they will be honing their considerable skills in the Arizona Fall League.

Far from the noise and excitement of the major league playoffs, baseball's next generation of top players play a 45-game schedule that began Wednesday in and around Phoenix.

In its seventh year, the league has become an annual stop for some of the game's rising stars. Among the alumni are nine players from this year's All-Star game, including Derek Jeter and Mike Piazza.

Three of this year's top rookies - Todd Helton of Colorado, Ben Grieve of Oakland and Travis Lee of Arizona - played in the fall league.

ROCKIES LURING LEYLAND: Colorado Rockies officials should know by week's end whether they have a chance to lure Jim Leyland to Denver.

Leyland expects to decide by Friday whether to stay as manager of the Florida Marlins or exercise an escape clause in his contract.

"A lot of people are making unnecessary assumptions," Leyland said in an interview Tuesday from his Pittsburgh-area home.

Leyland is one of the leading candidates to replace Don Baylor, who was fired as Colorado manager Monday.

Marlins officials have not given the Rockies permission to speak with Leyland.