The Five Most Questionable MVP Winners

Pedro Martinez, somehow, never won an MVP award. (via Andrew Malone)

Pedro Martinez, somehow, never won an MVP award. (via Andrew Malone)

The Most Valuable Player award is one of the most sacred in sports, probably more so in baseball. Over the years, there have been a number of questionable MVP decisions by Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

This year shouldn’t be one of those years. We’ll find out who they are officially tonight, but the 2015 winners shouldn’t be surprising to anyone now or 50 years from now. Bryce Harper is the clear favorite in the National League and, despite his Nationals not making the playoffs, is a lock for the award. No matter how well Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto performed, it won’t be enough to keep the Harper, at 23, from netting his first of (likely) multiple MVPs. In the American League, it’s a legitimate race between Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson.

Years down the road, this isn’t a year that’s going to leave people scratching their heads and asking, “How did that guy win?” But, well, that doesn’t mean years like that don’t happen. I looked at MVP award winners in each league from 1947 on to find the five most questionable MVP winners. The year 1947 is significant because it was the year Jackie Robinson integrated baseball.

For this exercise, I looked at both versions of wins above replacement — FanGraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Reference (rWAR). I also factored in team record and win probability added (WPA). There are some questionable MVPs missing from the list of five and honorable mentions section — Andre Dawson, 1987 comes to mind — but it’s for good reason.

After researching, it turns out the Dawson selection wasn’t nearly as egregious as it would appear on the surface. The 1987 Cubs went 76-85 and finished 18 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East. The NL leader in both versions of WAR was Tony Gwynn, whose Padres finished 65-97. In hindsight, Dawson being voted MVP doesn’t look especially great, but there wasn’t a clear-cut MVP candidate that season, especially since Ozzie Smith finished second in the voting.

Before we get to the top five, let’s take a quick look at some honorable mentions.

Honorable mentions

1950 NL MVP
Jim Konstanty, a reliever, beat out Eddie Stanky, a second baseman. The Phillies won five more games than the Giants, but the difference in FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference WAR was staggering. Read more about Konstanty’s MVP run in this article from 2010 by Dave Studeman.

1964 NL MVP
Willie Mays got robbed a number of times for MVP, and 1964 was one. He bested MVP winner Ken Boyer in fWAR (10.5 to 6.0) and rWAR (11.0 to 6.1) by a lot, and the difference in team wins was just three.

1974 NL MVP
Winner Steve Garvey was good, not great, for a 102-win Dodgers team. Even a 5.6 difference in fWAR and 5.3 in rWAR couldn’t vault Mike Schmidt ahead of Garvey because his Phillies won just 80 games.

1985 NL MVP
Dwight Gooden posted the greatest season by rWAR (12.1) for a pitcher and tied for the fifth-best of all time (without even factoring in the 1.1 WAR he added with his bat). But Willie McGee won.

2012 AL MVP
Miguel Cabrera and the Triple Crown outdid Mike Trout in his first of two (so far) 10-win seasons.

Any Other Time a Reliever Won
Willie Hernandez in 1984 and Dennis Eckersley in 1992 stand out the most. Hernandez beat out 26 other players before Cal Ripken and his 10.0 fWAR and 9.8 rWAR came up in the voting. A 10-win shortstop finished in 27th place. That would be unheard of today.

Now, on to the five most questionable MVP award winners.

1962 NL MVP

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MAURY WILLS VS. WILLIE MAYS
Player fWAR rWAR Team Record WPA
Wills  5.3  6.0 102-63 2.8
Mays 10.5 10.5 103-62 7.7

This might be the greatest example of how thinking about baseball and its philosophies have changed in baseball over the last half-century. Maury Wills had a really good 1962 season. He posted a .299/.347/.373 triple slash and stole a league-best 104 bases. He also scored a career-high 130 runs and hit six home runs – the most he would hit in any season of his career. He also played strong defense at shortstop, making him a small-baller’s dream player. The Dodgers won 102 games that season and finished second to the Giants. This was peak Wills, and that player couldn’t have played any better.

Despite all that, he was probably the most indefensible MVP award winner since baseball integrated in 1947. Giants center fielder Mays had the second of his four 10-win seasons in 1962. It wasn’t his best overall season, but he did hit 49 home runs with a .304/.384/.615 triple slash. As usual, he played outstanding defense in center field.

The vote was, at least, close. Wills got eight first-place votes while Mays got seven. That one vote was the difference, as Wills ended with 209 points and Mays with 202. If a scenario like this were to happen today, the Internet would be ablaze with people calling for the heads of the BBWAA voters (because votes are made public now).

There’s really no defending this decision. The Giants won 103 games and the division before eventually dropping the World Series to the Yankees. It isn’t like they were a .500 team and the Dodgers were that much better. The voters just simply got this one wrong. Even if Wills had played the best shortstop anyone had ever played, he didn’t do nearly enough on offense to warrant the award over Mays. Mays was more than twice as good as the next-best player on the Giants in fWAR (Felipe Alou, 4.8), while Wills was second behind Tommy Davis (5.8). Even his brother-but-not-really Willie Davis had a 5.2 fWAR, just 0.1 behind Wills. Oh, and there was also Don Drysdale, who had a 6.5-win season. It could be argued Wills was the fourth-best player on the ’62 Dodgers and not the best in the National League.

Wills likely won on the strength of his 104 stolen bases. Prior to that, no one had stolen nearly that many since Ty Cobb swiped 96 in 1915. The game changed a lot over the course of 47 years, but triple-digits in stolen bases stands out. That doesn’t mean he was more valuable that season than a player like Mays, though.

1979 AL MVP

DON BAYLOR VS. FRED LYNN
Player fWAR rWAR Team Record WPA
Baylor 3.6 3.7 88-74 1.7
Lynn 8.6 8.8 91-69 5.2

The 1979 vote was another head-scratcher. Don Baylor had a great offensive season. He was the rare slugger who didn’t strike out a lot (7.1 percent). He hit 39 home runs, which tied him with Fred Lynn and Jim Rice for second-best in the American League. Where he gained a lot of support was with his RBI total. He drove in a major league-best 139 runs. Now, you have to be a good hitter to drive in that many runs, but as we’ve seen in the last decade-plus, RBI totals are generally unimportant and almost meaningless. Baylor also didn’t provide much of anything on defense; he played just 98 games in the field.

Lynn, Boston’s center fielder, had what would be the best season of his career. He hit .333/.423/.637 with 39 homers and a major leaguue-leading 174 weighted runs created-plus and 8.6 fWAR. He was also above average in center field, making him the complete package.

The baffling thing is Lynn, despite helping to lead Boston to a 91-win season, didn’t get a single first-place vote. Baylor got 20 of 28 votes for the AL West-winning Angels … a team that won three fewer games than the Red Sox. That fact, coupled with Baylor’s RBI total, propelled him to being the first MVP winner in Angels history.

1996 AL MVP

JUAN GONZALEZ VS. KEN GRIFFEY JR.
Player fWAR rWAR Team Record WPA
Gonzalez 3.5 3.8 90-72 2.9
Griffey Jr. 9.7 9.7 85-76 2.7

One of baseball’s greatest misconceptions is that Juan Gonzalez was an MVP-caliber player. While he was good at hitting, he offered next-to-nothing on the defensive side of the ball. Still, his 1996 season was one of his best with the bat. He hit 47 home runs with a .314/.368/.643 triple slash and a league-leading 144 RBIs. Again, it seems RBIs played a big role in the voters’ decision. Still, he played just 134 games, and 32 of those games came as a designated hitter.

Ken Griffey Jr. played just six more games than Gonzalez, but he was much more valuable in those games. He bested Gonzalez in many offensive categories, but not by much. Where he had the clear and distinct advantage was defensively. He played center field, an intensive defensive position, and played it better than anyone in baseball that season by a long shot.

Team records likely played a factor in the voting, as the Rangers finished 4½ games ahead of the Mariners in the AL West. That it was Texas’ first postseason appearance also played into Gonzalez’s favor with the voters. Gonzalez got 11 first-place votes, while Griffey got four. Griffey’s teammate Alex Rodriguez got 10 first-place votes, so it seems the voters couldn’t decide between the two, and Gonzalez benefited from it. While the win probability added numbers don’t differ as much as the previous two questionable MVPs, the difference in both WAR and overall value stand out.

1999 AL MVP

IVAN RODRIGUEZ VS. PEDRO MARTINEZ
Player fWAR rWAR Team Record WPA
Rodriguez  6.8 6.4 95-67 0.01
Martinez 11.6 9.7 94-68  6.5

Since 1947, 22 pitchers have won the MVP award in either league, or 16.2 percent. Seeing as there is such an emphasis on pitching, one would think more pitchers would win (or even be considered). The 1999 season was one such year. The Rangers won 95 games and clinched a third playoff appearance in four seasons. Ivan Rodriguez was baseball’s best all-around catcher, and the 1999 season was his most valuable in almost every category imaginable. He triple-slashed .332/.356/.558 with 35 home runs and a surprising 25 stolen bases. He also had his third-best defensive season by FanGraphs’ defensive rating. A nearly seven-win catcher is hard to overlook, except when a pitcher has one of the best seasons in the game’s history.

How Pedro Martinez never won an MVP award is beyond me, and his best chance was in 1999. He threw 213.1 innings – an acceptable number in 2015, but a little “light” by late-90s standards. Where he thrived was in rate stats. He struck out 13.2 hitters per nine innings, the highest rate of all time before Randy Johnson had a 13.4 K/9 in 2001. He walked just 1.6 hitters per nine innings and posted a 1.39 fielding independent pitching – the best of all-time. His fWAR was the highest of any pitcher in baseball history. It was, likely, the best season for any pitcher, ever. And the Red Sox won 94 games and the AL Wild Card, so the postseason berth cannot have been used against Martinez.

Martinez actually got eight first-place votes to Rodriguez’s seven. But some voters do not believe pitchers should be eligible for the MVP award. That’s fine, I guess. But when a pitcher does the things Martinez did in 1999, it might be time to make an exception. This isn’t a slight to Rodriguez or any other “questionable” MVP choices, but greatness should be rewarded. Also, the WPA numbers are strongly in Martinez’s favor, which could have been a factor had baseball thinking in 1999 been how it is these days.

2002 AL MVP

MIGUEL TEJADA VS. ALEX RODRIGUEZ
Player fWAR rWAR Team Record WPA
Tejada  4.5 5.6 103-59 4.9
Rodriguez 10.0 8.8  72-90 3.9

The 2002 Oakland Athletics were special. Hell, there was a movie made about the 103-win team. Miguel Tejada was at the center of the A’s success. At 28, he was coming off 16th- and 19th-place MVP finishes the two seasons prior and was in the middle of his prime. The 2002 season would be his best with the bat. He slashed .308/.354/.508 with 34 home runs and a 129 wRC+. He also had 131 RBIs, which, as I mentioned earlier, doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. One thing he does get credit for is being an ironman of sorts. He played 162 games for six consecutive seasons from 2001 through 2006, and he played 159 and 160 games in 1999 and 2000, respectively. He wasn’t ever really much with the glove, but his bat more than made up for it. It may not have been the most valuable, but it was really good.

Alex Rodriguez was in his second season with the Rangers. The team didn’t climb out of the cellar in any of Rodriguez’s three years as a Ranger, but his time with them was really productive. His 2002 season was his best as a major leaguer. He hit 57 home runs with a .300/.392/.623 and a 158 wRC+. It would be his only 10-win season (by fWAR) because he played league-best defense at shortstop. It was one of the finest seasons ever by a shortstop, and he garnered just five of the 28 first-place votes.

Rodriguez was likely done in by the A’s 103 wins and 20-game winning streak and Tejada’s heroics in games 18 and 19 of that streak. He hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning off Eddie Guardado and walked off the Royals the next game. He did post a better WPA than Rodriguez, so there’s that. Tejada was an inferior – but still good – player to Rodriguez in 2002, but Tejada’s clutchitude (which, like RBIs, isn’t really a thing) ultimately won out.

Conclusion

This article isn’t meant to take anything away from the players who were voted the MVP of their respective leagues. It’s just meant to point out, in hindsight, that some of these decisions were questionable. Happily, the electorate has improved tremendously, which is only a good thing for baseball fans going forward.

Also, this should give better recognition to the greatest players in the game. Almost any season in which Ted Williams played, he should have been at the top or near the top in the MVP voting. He won the award twice. The same could be said about players like Mickey Mantle (three MVPs), Albert Pujols (three MVPs), Alex Rodriguez (three MVPs), Mays (two MVPs), Roger Clemens (one MVP). A tip of the hat to the voters for recognizing Barry Bonds seven times.

There should be fewer of these questionable MVP award winners going forward. In fact, it’d be surprising if a guy with a sub-5 WAR (either FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference) ever won the award again.


Dustin Nosler is a writer at Dodgers Digest, co-host of the Dugout Blues podcast and a wearer of many hats for FanGraphs and The Hardball TImes. Follow him on Twitter @DustinNosler.
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87 Cards
Guest
87 Cards

All valid gripes were raised in the article. However, no discussion of MVP controversies is complete without talking of Babe Ruth. I am of the opinion that Babe Ruth was denied AL MVP at four times during his peak offensive years between 1924 and 193O. The Chalmers Award, as it was called at that time and recognized by the AL as the MVP award, was voted on by players and managers and was a one-and-done award— only one recognition per player per career. Ruth won it in 1923, put up plus-ten WAR numbers in 1924, 1926 and 1929. The AL… Read more »

Eric the Snail
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Eric the Snail

Well, if the rules said you could only win it once, then it’s not controversial, is it?

Tramps Like Us
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Tramps Like Us

what he said

tz
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tz

A quick note on the Willie Hernandez 1984 award: he set an all-time record for WPA by a reliever with a ridiculous 8.58 WPA. This was a result of having great success while being used as a Gossage-style, multiple inning closer, posting a 1.92 ERA over 140+ innings pitched (45 of his 80 appearances were more than 3 outs).

But Ripken’s finish on that ballot was ridiculously low. He even trailed Juan Beniquez, who had 384 nice plate appearances a 4th outfielder on a .500 Angels team. Amazing.

Dennis Bedard
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Dennis Bedard

What Zoilo Versailles in 1965? I was 8 at the time and thought it was not right even then.

GregF
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GregF

The Versalles award gets mentioned a lot. It is however, an MVP for a season, not for a career. He did have quite a season, leading the league in total bases, runs scored, doubles, triples, and runs scored. He also won a Gold Glove, even though leading the league in errors. Plus the Twins won the pennant. He was a sparkplug that season, even though the rest of his career wasn’t quite as good(you would have needed a crystal ball in 1965 to know how his career would turn out). That is why MVP’s are for a season – not… Read more »

John C
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John C

Zorro deserved to win it in ’65. It was a fluke season, but fluke seasons count too. It looks weird in retrospect, because he fought back injuries for the rest of his career (ala Don Mattingly post-1989), and never got any of his ability back. But he did have the best 1965 season of any position player in the AL, and deserved, on that basis, to be the MVP.

DJ
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DJ

Ryne Sandberg didn’t win the 1985 MVP. Willie McGee did.

PL78
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PL78

Howard over Pujols was ridiculous that year too – you can question anytime Pujols didn’t win from 01-10 too pretty much, but Howard beat him in only 2 categories, HR and RBI, Pujols beat him easily in every other raw stat and metric

Timber
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Timber

Howard over Pujols was questionable, but not ridiculous. Ridiculous was the American League MVP that went to Morneau that same year.

Dave
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Dave

I agree that Pujols was amazing from 2001 to 2010, but Bonds was clearly the correct choice for NL MVP the first four of those years. Those were peak Bonds years when his offensive numbers were cartoonishly great. Bonds’ lowest OPS over those 4 years was 1.278 in 2003, and his lowest OBP was .515 in 2001 (his 73 HR season).

PL78
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PL78

We can also question how Zito won the Cy over Pedro in 02 when Zito beat him in pitcher wins and nothing else.

Carl
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Carl

Overly harsh about Baylor in 1979. Several points you did not consider: 1) Baylor “won” the award w a great first half. Baylor had a 299/383/551 in the first half for an OPS+ of 154 while California ran out to a big lead (11 games at the AS break). Also note, Baylor loses 25 runs for being primarily a DH on fWar, which the writers would not have penalized him that much. 2) The writers discounted Lynn’s hitting because of his home-away splits. In 1979 Lynn hit 386/470/798 in Fenway and 276/371/461 on the road. In contrast, playing in a… Read more »

Jon L.
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Jon L.

The article also says Baylor tied Lynn and Rice for 2nd in the AL with 39 home runs. Lynn and Rice did tie for second, but Baylor hit just 36 home runs to finish in 4th.

Eric Brem
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Eric Brem

1934 AL MVP
Mickey Cochrane -4.0WAR OVER
Lou Gehrig – 10.4 WAR AND WON THE TRIPLE CROWN

GregF
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GregF

Cochrane got the award for leading the Tigers to an unexpected pennant(and managing them as well).

Rally
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Rally

“The team won 73 games in its first season with Rodriguez in 2001. The next season, he helped lead the Rangers to 93 wins.”

No they didn’t. 2002 Rangers won 72 games. The next year they won 71. They finished last in all three seasons with Rodriguez.

Ian R.
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Ian R.

“But some voters do not believe pitchers should be eligible for the MVP award. That’s fine, I guess.”

Considering the criteria for the MVP award specifically state that pitchers are eligible, and the BBWAA has asked writers to recuse themselves from voting if they are not comfortable voting for a pitcher, I’d say that, no, that’s not fine. Writers shouldn’t be able to decide on their own criteria and ignore what it actually says on the ballot.

Otherwise, great analysis.

GregF
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GregF

I agree. If you don’t feel pitchers should be eligible for the MVP – don’t vote. Sorry to be so harsh, but all players are eligible for the award and should be voted for accordingly.

John C
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John C

A lot of these awards were given at a time when the RBI was considered the “king” of baseball stats. That’s why Baylor won in ’79, and Dawson won in ’87, and why Cecil Fielder came so close to winning in 1990 and 1991, and a bunch of other guys either won or finished much higher than they should have, like Juan Gonzalez. I’m honestly not sure what the voters would do today about that 1979 race. Fred Lynn and George Brett had the best seasons, but both had huge home/away splits, Lynn even worse than Brett. I would have… Read more »

GregF
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GregF

In the case of Stargell, the leadership factor definitely contributed to his winning in 1979. Another factor was in other recent years(1971, 1973 for example)where he could have won it, others(Joe Torre and Pete Rose) did. Perhaps this was kind of a “make up” for past seasons of missing out – even though not up to the standards of those prior years.

bucdaddy
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bucdaddy

“there have been a number of questionable MVP decisions by Baseball Writers’ Association of America.” The most questionable decision the working journalists in the BBWAA make every year is the decision to vote for awards that can result in payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to players they cover. If there’s a clearer conflict of interest, I don’t know what it could be. If anyone in the BBWAA every visits this site (“Oh no! Facts and figures! Nothing good can come of this! I’ll just use my gut.”) and reads this, I’d be happy to hear your explanation why… Read more »

Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider

I have a question about any kind of competition that is based on subjective judgement (e.g., figure skating). I don’t even like the concept of MVP because everyone has a different notion of what most valuable means. It’s always bothered me that a lot of people think you can’t be “most valuable” unless your team makes the playoffs even though you might have made far more difference to the team’s performance than a guy on a playoff team. I say, do away with MVP and must give an award for Most Outstanding Player. Even that, of course, would be subjective,… Read more »

Scott M
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Scott M

One factor in Pedro not winning was the fact that one NY voter left him off his ballot, claiming, I believe, that pitchers shouldn’t get the award. Which would have been defensible, except..

… in another season (the next, I think) he voted for Roger Clemens on his MVP ballot. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but he should definitely have had his voting rights stripped for being such a blatant hypocrite.

Murph3699
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Murph3699

It was George King

Bpdelia
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Bpdelia

And that’s all you need to know about that.

Bryan Cole
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Bryan Cole

It’s Friday. Let’s not get mad about ’99 Pedro getting screwed, let’s celebrate ’99 Pedro kicking everyone’s ass all the time.

Pedro at the All-Star Game – link
Pedro strikes out 17 Yankees – link
Pedro hands Yankees their only postseason loss (and destroys Clemens to boot) – link

Paul G.
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Paul G.

With Ivan Rodriguez, there is an argument that catchers should be graded on a curve for the MVP Award, given that they necessarily have to play less in the field and get more banged up which makes it very difficult, but not impossible, to be a leader in WAR. How much that “bonus” should be is up to debate. There is also the matter of measuring defense at catcher which is hardly settled. I think another factor for the MVP Award is how much better a player is at his position than his peers. A catcher that is worth 6… Read more »

marc w
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marc w

I’m aware of the fWAR/bWAR gap, but at the time, the person robbed by Juan Gonzalez wasn’t Griffey, it was A-Rod. Rodriguez played the more difficult position, posted a higher wOBA, higher wRC+, and bested Griffey in each triple slash category. He played more games, albeit barely, and posted a significantly better WPA than either JuanGone or Griffey. Somewhere along the road, Griffey overtook Rodriguez in WAR – in both systems – thanks to a remarkably improbably defensive season that the voters at the time (and fans at the time) wouldn’t have given him credit for. I think they wouldn’t… Read more »

tz
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tz

Wow – this year’s results look like a victory for WAR. Harper unanimous in the NL, followed by Goldschmidt, Votto, and Rizzo. No penalty for playing for a non-playoff team. AL rankings also highly correlated to WAR – even Kiermaier coming in 17th.

AND, also behold that all five of the pitchers who got first-place votes for Cy Young also finished in the top ten for MVP in their league.

I’ve never seen the MVP voting make as much sense as this year’s

ray miller
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ray miller

Great piece. What about Hank Sauer, the 1952 NL MVP, from the last-place Cubs? That’s even a bigger head-scratcher than some of the other cases you mention. I think generally part of the problem we’re discussing here is semantic: what does “valuable” mean? “Valuable” to whom? I think that “most valuable” translates in a lot of people’s minds to “Where would his team be without him?” Hence so many MVPs coming from playoff teams. But, there’s nothing wrong with that–it’s a viable understanding of the phrase. That’s why I have no problem with Cabrera winning the MVP over Trout in… Read more »

GregF
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GregF

A correction on Sauer and the 1952 Cubs. They finished fifth that year.

ray miller
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ray miller

Thanks for the correction! It didn’t sound quite right, and I was too lazy to look it up. I think my “head=scratcher” point is still valid, though . . .

GregF
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GregF

You’re right about the head scratcher that season. The player that should have gotten it was Robin Roberts with 28 wins for the Phillies. If he had won, two pitchers from Philadelphia(Bobby Shantz won it for the A’s)would have been MVP’s from the same city.

I believe in Roberts case a writer or two left him off the ballot and that was why he didn’t win. There are some years that just don’t leave a clear cut MVP. 1952 appears to be one of them, which allowed Sauer to slip in and get the award.

Andy
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Andy

If you really want to go down that rabbit hole, you have to ask how many extra fans a player puts in the seats. Because value isn’t just measured in whether a team makes the postseason, it’s how much money they take in, and making the postseason is only part of that. Going further, one needs to look at income vs. profit, which means the amount of money a player is paid is relevant. Trout in 2012 and 2013 was being paid something like 2% of what Cabrera was paid. So he was much more valuable in terms of money… Read more »

Blue
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Blue

You’re missing perhaps the WORST snub ever–Don Mattingly over George Brett in 1985. The Royals offense in 1985 was Brett and basically nothing. No single player in the history of baseball has put a team on his shoulders and taken it all the way to the World Series like Brett did in 1985. For the “Valuable” in MVP no single player has ever matched it.

John C
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John C

Either Brett or Rickey Henderson, the guy that Mattingly was driving in all season, were better choices. I would have voted Brett first, Henderson second, and Mattingly third that year.

Mattingly actually has a better case for the 1986 MVP, if you don’t want to give it to Clemens.

I just realized that I’ve made George Brett a three-time MVP on this thread, giving him 1979 and 1985 to go with the one he did win in 1980.

Bpdelia
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Bpdelia

A couple of quibbles here. The years that mark Davis, and eck and Hernandez won aren’t honorable mention. That’s the whole list. Eck over Clemens is about as bad as possible. Catchers are clearly undervalued by War as their salaries attest. There’s no pitch framing taken into account and we have really crappy defensive metrics on them and first baseman. Catchers and first baseman scoops and blocks are critical have changing plays that don’t get any credit from war. Lastly. Clutchiness IS a thing. It’s not a repeatable skill and so shouldn’t be factored into things like contract valuation or… Read more »

Bpdelia
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Bpdelia

Those typps were extremely unclutch and i therefore pull my name from HBT commenter MVC consideration.

Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider

You need some good clubhouse leadership on your typing. 🙂

Agree with you about the clutch moments. They happened and should be counted. Whether Bobby Thomson just happened to randomly hit a home run at the right moment, it’s still a home run for the ages and it goes on his record.

BobDD
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BobDD

Cardinal fan since the 50’s here: I remember the ’64 vote clearly. Not only was Mays much better than Boyer, but Boyer was only the 3rd best NL 3B after then Ron Santo and then rookie Rickie Allen. But Boyer finally led in RBI (by one) after being among the leaders for years, and was perhaps a “lifetime vote”. He was a popular player and I do not even remember any controversy about it at the time. Not the worst MVP award, but if even a partisan fan such as I am embarrassed about it, it must be bad. I… Read more »

Bpdelia
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Bpdelia

Yeah i immediately thought of the George Bell year.

Howard at least had a remarkable year offensively.

Bell had a very good year.

Again though, the list really is the 80s/90s run of reliever mvps.

GregF
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GregF

Actually(just my opinion)that player that would have won the award was Johnny Callison of the Phillies. The late season collapse prevented that from happening.

BobDD
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BobDD

Bpdelia, your hyppos are really gonna screw yp your park rffekts 5 thz yeer. Just another exampul of RA benng a butter stat thin ERA.

Oh, this is fun speaking in code.

mtsw
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mtsw

Ripken’s 10 WAR season was 1991 (he won the MVP) and he was only a 4 WAR player in 1992, which makes his 27th place finish in that year’s voting much more explicable.

John C
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John C

He was a 10 WAR player in 1984 and finished 27th after winning the year before, not in 1992.

Andy
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Andy

We can define a snubbed index (SI) as the number of times a player leads the league in WAR – the number of MVPs he wins. Since the modern MVP commenced in 1931, nine players have led their league in fWAr more than three times: Bonds (11), Mays (10), Williams (7), Mantle (6), ARod (6), Musial (5), Ott (4), Schmidt (4), and Trout (4). The SI: Mays – 8 Williams – 5 Bonds – 4 Ott – 4 Mantle – 3 Arod – 3 Trout – 3 Musial – 2 Schmidt – 1 Ott is the only player during that… Read more »

Jeff Kent
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Jeff Kent

Barry won 7, no fair.

Tramps Like Us
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Tramps Like Us

Great article. Now, I’m hoping for the worst Rookie of the Year selections and hoping Joe Morgan finally takes it away from Jim Lefebvre as he should have in ’65.

Bpdelia
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Bpdelia

Did Pat Listach win that year he had the awesome first half?

He just popped into my head but then i questioned myself.

Angel Berroa. That’s am interesting list.

No reason to bother with Cy Young really. It’ll just be a list of relievers and then the occasional Bob Welch crazy win total travesty type year.

Trace Juno
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Trace Juno

I like this article and I get sabermetrics.
That said, some articles like this and even more so the comments make me wonder if some of us tend to believe, “Now we’ve figured it out” and think too highly of our own opinions. I hate RBIs and Wins as much as anybody, but I also wonder what people will think about any kind of WAR in fifty years or so. Maybe by then we can re-create fielders’ brain scans and see who really made the most difficult plays or something.

Gabriel
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Gabriel

1987 was an awful year for MVP. George Bell beat out Trammell despite having a significantly worse year on a team that blew a big lead and Dawson beat out 18 other players who were better despite being on a last place team. It was as if voters simply voted for RBI and nothing else.