"I've patterned myself after him," says the 1982 National League rookie of the year about the man who won the award in 1963. Right. Steve Sax, making like Pete Rose, has edged rival second baseman Johnny Ray and become the fourth Dodger in four years to receive the accolade.

Sax outpointed Ray of the Pirates, 63-57, in balloting by 24 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, with outfielders Willie McGee, Cardinals, and Chili Davis, Giants, next with 39 and 32 points, respectively. Sax received nine first-place votes after a .282 year in which he led Los Angeles in runs, hits and stolen bases (49); Ray drew six firsts for hitting .281, playing all 162 Pittsburgh games. Each fielded .977 . . .

Second baseman on Baltimore's 1966 and '70 world champions, Davey Johnson, is the new manager at Tidewater, Mets' AAA affiliate . . . Ex-Angel manager Jim Fregosi will guide Louisville, Cardinals' AAA team. "Going to be nice," he says, "to work with younger players who want to listen and learn" . . . Frank McCormick, NL's MVP of 1940 and RBI leader in '39, pennant years for the Cincinnati Reds (he hit .332 and .309, driving in 128 and 127 runs), has died in Manhasset, N.Y.; cancer. Recently, McCormick, 71, directed group sales for the Yankees; he set fielding records at first base while batting .299 in 13 years in the majors . . . Two ex-owners dead in two days, Houston's Roy Hofheinz after Robert Short.