Meeting the Moment: Retrospective MVP Awards for the World Series, Part 1

A few months ago, I followed a certain stream of consciousness from a book about the 1969 Mets to asking who the MVPs of the League Championship Series, before they had official MVPs, would have been. From there, it’s barely a hop to a parallel and arguably bigger question: who was the MVP of the World Series, in each year that such a thing did not officially exist?

The first World Series MVP award was handed out in 1955. Johnny Podres of the Brooklyn Dodgers took the hardware on the strength of two complete-game wins, including a shutout of the Yankees in Game Seven that won the Dodgers their first World Series ever. The next year, it would go to a pitcher who got hooked out of his first start in the second inning for misplacing the strike zone—and in his second start pitched a perfect game. RIP, Don.

Before them, though, there was nothing. From Cy Young pitching to Honus Wagner in 1903 to Willie Mays making The Catch in 1954, any plaudits for an outstanding player stood the risk of being as ephemeral as yesterday’s newspaper. (Okay, newsreel footage helped Willie out plenty in that regard.)

I had enough fun filling in the gaps with the LCSes that I decided to try it again with the World Series. Last time, though, I had only 19 series to review, while there have been 51 Fall Classics without an official MVP. That’s why this is Part One. I’ll go from the inaugural World Series to the end of the first Yankees dynasty in 1928 today. At a later date I’ll give you the rest, from the start of the Philadelphia A’s second dynasty to Willie Mays going way back on Vic Wertz’s fly ball.

As before, I will begin my analyses using the Win Percentage Added (WPA) statistic. WPA measures how much a game event alters the probability of a team winning the game, and credits or debits the players involved, offensively and defensively, for their successes or failures in that event. WPA melds performance and leverage, thus providing useful measures both of how much a player contributes to his team, and how much the fans will perceive the player as contributing.

I go beyond WPA, of course. I give weight to defensive performance for position players, which doesn’t appear in the standard WPA scores. Commit an error, and I’ll deduct that WPA score from your total. Gun down base-stealers as a catcher, and you’ll get extra credit. I also note how pitchers bat, which usually hurts them, but not always.

I also follow the rawer stats: triple-slash, the traditional pitching line, even things like RBIs and pitcher wins. Award voters of the day, had there been any, would have leaned on those numbers in making their choices. While I worked to make my own judgments rather than simulating theirs, I allowed those impressions their influence when deciding close points, especially when old-time voters wouldn’t have seen then what we see today.

I considered award candidates from the losing side, at a penalty. There has been just one World Series MVP out of 64 who came from a losing team: Bobby Richardson for the 1960 Yankees. As with my LCS work, I’ve been more forgiving of defeat than the real voters have been.

For each series, I give the teams and the result, with game scores. I then name my MVP, giving triple-slash numbers for the batters and the innings pitched, runs, hits, walks, and strikeouts for pitchers, along with WPA for both. Then comes a short summary of their performances, with other contenders sometimes mentioned when a choice was close.

Now, back to 1903.

1903 – Boston Americans over Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-3
(3-7, 3-0, 2-4, 4-5, 11-2, 6-3, 7-3, 3-0)
MVP: Bill Dinneen, Americans – 4 G (3-1), 35 IP, 29 H, 8 R, 8 W, 28 K; 0.94 WPA

So you understand what a different era this was, two pitchers, Dinneen and Cy Young, pitched 69 out of Boston’s 71 innings in this eight-game series. Dinneen pitched a little better, his 28 strikeouts setting a pace double that of the majors in 1903. He pulled his Americans even with a three-hit shutout in Game Two, but stumbled four days later in a 5-4 defeat his team still almost pulled out in the ninth. On one day’s rest, he rebounded to beat Pittsburgh in Game Six, evening the Series again. In Game Eight, he bookended his work with another 3-0 whitewashing, this one a four-hitter.

It was a great effort, one that would almost immediately get buried in World Series history.

1905 – New York Giants over Philadelphia A’s, 4-1
(3-0, 0-3, 9-0, 1-0, 2-0)
MVP: Christy Mathewson, Giants – 3 G (3-0), 27 IP, 13 H, 0 R, 1W, 18K; 1.14 WPA

It could not be anybody else. Baseball would have died under a universal chorus of “Fraud!” if anybody else had been given the award. Christy Mathewson pitched three complete games in six days, and produced three shutouts. The feat arguably made him the biggest, most respected star in the game. The closest thing we have to it in recent times is another Giant pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, dominating the 2014 Series with one shutout, a seven-inning win, and a five-inning save, across three more days.

Oddly, Bumgarner’s Series WPA was better than Mathewson’s, by 1.18 to 1.14. Matty had the better of the pitching (1.34 to 1.26), but batted a bit worse and made two errors in Game Five. There was even another World Series pitcher who outdid Christy’s WPA on the mound—but I’ll get to him in time.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

1906 – Chicago White Sox over Chicago Cubs, 4-2
(2-1, 1-7, 3-0, 0-1, 8-6, 8-3)
MVP: Nick Altrock, White Sox – 2 G (1-1), 18 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 W, 5 K; 0.83 WPA

Altrock fought Cubs ace and Hall-of-Famer Mordecai Brown to a draw on the mound. Altrock yielded one run on four hits in Game One, good enough to eke out a 2-1 win. He repeated his one-run effort in Game Four, giving up the run on a single, two sacrifice bunts (!), and another single. Brown needed a shutout to beat him—and got it.

This record, while impressive in WPA, wouldn’t have bowled over voters in the contemporary press box. Altrock squeezes through on a lack of position player candidates: those who did well hitting also had multiple errors eroding their overall value.

1907 – Chicago Cubs over Detroit Tigers, 4-0-1
(3-3 [12], 3-1, 5-1, 6-1, 2-0)
MVP: Ed Reulbach, Cubs – 2 G (1-0), 12 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 W, 4 K; 0.44 WPA

Reulbach first got the call as Game One entered extras. He stymied the Tigers for three frames, allowing just one baserunner on an error. If he’d been able to come through in a two-out, bases-loaded spot in the 11th, he would have been the hero, but he settled for preserving a 12-inning tie.

Two days later Ed was back on the mound. He retired the first 10 Tigers, allowed one run when the Cubs had already plated five, and won the game convincingly. Teammate Mordecai Brown would twirl a shutout to finish the pseudo-sweep, but Reulbach gets my vote for big performances when the series was still in doubt.

1908 – Chicago Cubs over Detroit Tigers, 4-1
(10-6, 6-1, 3-8, 3-0, 2-0)
MVP: Orval Overall, Cubs – 3 G (2-0), 18.1 IP, 7H, 2R, 7W, 15K; 0.95 WPA

Overall’s Series had an inauspicious start in Game One, when a short relief stint saw him put aboard two of three batters, one of whom scored. He made fans forget that the next day, when he pitched a four-hitter spoiled only by a last-gasp Tigers run that closed the gap to 6-1. Handed the ball again in the potential clincher, Overall escaped a first-inning bases-loaded jam with his fourth (!) strikeout of the frame. He escaped trouble again in the fifth, and retired the last 12 Tigers he faced to seal the three-hit shutout.

For a guy who clinched the Cubs’ last World Series win for 108 years, you’d think he’d be a bit more famous. Maybe this will make it up to him.

1909 – Pittsburgh Pirates over Detroit Tigers, 4-3
(4-1, 2-7, 8-6, 0-5, 8-4, 4-5, 8-0)
MVP: Babe Adams, Pirates – 3 G (3-0), 27 IP, 18 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 W, 11 K; 0.47 WPA

Adams, a breakout star in 1909 after two earlier, bitter cups of coffee, got the Game One start and won it, holding Ty Cobb’s Tigers to one tally. Given the ball again for Game Five, he got touched for two homers and four runs, but still carded the 8-4 win. On two days’ rest, he got the call for the decisive seventh game. He answered it, scattering six hits for the shutout victory.

Babe had strong competition for MVP honors from teammates Tommy Leach (.360/.429/.520; 0.61 WPA; eight runs scored) and Fred Clarke (.211/.400/.526; 0.51 WPA; seven runs and seven RBIs). The scribes, though, latched onto Adams’s Mathewson-esque three wins and praised his performance to the heavens. He would have been their choice. I’ll let them have their way.

1910 – Philadelphia A’s over Chicago Cubs, 4-1
(4-1, 9-3, 12-5, 3-4 [10], 7-2)
MVP: Danny Murphy, A’s — .400/.429/.700; 0.49 WPA

Once again, a pitcher won three complete games in the World Series over a span of six days. He’s not getting my award. Jack Coombs gave up 10 runs over those three blowout games while running a WHIP above 1.4. For the era, that’s pretty middling.

Instead, I’m tapping A’s right fielder Danny Murphy. He was steadily productive, hitting safely and driving in at least one run in every game. His nine RBIs more than doubled anyone else, and his six runs tied for the series lead. He even managed the only home run of the series. A teammate would one-up him next year.

1911 – Philadelphia A’s over New York Giants, 4-2
(1-2, 3-1, 3-2 [11], 4-2, 3-4 [10], 13-2)
MVP: Frank Baker, A’s — .375/.400/.708; 0.70 WPA

“Home Run” Baker’s nickname had existed before, but this World Series raised it from obscurity and made it eternal. His first homer came in the sixth inning of Game Two, breaking a 1-1 tie and evening the series. The next day, he hit another in the ninth, off Christy Mathewson, to tie the contest. His A’s won in the 11th, Baker’s single a linchpin of the rally. His two doubles in Game Four, again off Matty, were vital in that victory as well.

Two home runs might be just a good afternoon for Pete Alonso today, but in the deadball days it was a historic eruption of power, with one of them against the revered Mathewson. It basically made Frank Baker “Mr. October” before anyone thought up that title.

1912 – Boston Red Sox over New York Giants, 4-3-1
(4-3, 6-6 [11], 1-2, 3-1, 2-1, 2-5, 4-11, 3-2 (10)]
MVP: Hugh Bedient, Red Sox – 4 G (1-0), 18 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 7 W, 7 K; 0.87 WPA

In an epic series replete with strong performances, Bedient noses out contenders like Tris Speaker and Rube Marquard. He began quietly, scraping out scoreless one-inning relief stints in Games Two and Three, neither of which his Red Sox won. He got the start in Game Five, and held New York to one unearned run on three hits, edging out veteran legend Christy Mathewson.

Given the ball again in Game Eight (one game was a tie due to darkness), Bedient was a little weaker, allowing one run over seven innings. He departed trailing 1-0, but he had done enough. His pinch-hitter tied the game, and the Red Sox would go on to extras, and then to glory.

1913 – Philadelphia A’s over New York Giants, 4-1
(6-4, 0-3 [10], 8-2, 6-5, 3-1)
MVP: Christy Mathewson, Giants – 2 G (1-1), 19 IP, 14 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 W, 7 K; 1.09 WPA

A legion of A’s—Frank Baker, Eddie Collins, Wally Schang, Chief Bender, Eddie Plank—made cases for the honor, Bender having the best WPA at 0.41. An old World Series hero overcame them all in one afternoon.

In Game Two, Mathewson scattered eight hits in scoreless regulation, while getting a single and a walk himself. In the 10th, his second single drove in the go-ahead run, and he later scored an insurance tally before setting Philly down 1-2-3 to finish them off. Matty’s WPA was 0.67 for pitching and 0.39 for batting, a colossal 1.06 mark in just one game. He had a merely average Game Five that ended the Giants’ season, but his two-way marvel in Game Two was enough for a whole series.

1914 – Boston Braves over Philadelphia A’s, 4-0
(7-1, 1-0, 5-4 [12], 3-1)
MVP: Hank Gowdy, Braves — .545/.688/1.273; 0.55 WPA

Boston’s catcher made hits in only two out of four games, but in those games turned the dead ball into a pinball. He was perfect in Game One with a single, double, triple, and walk, driving in the Braves’ opening run in a 7-1 rout. He managed “only” two walks the next day, but left his mark all over Game Three. His third-inning double opened the scoring; his 10th-inning home run was critical in a two-run comeback; his 12th-inning double opened Boston’s winning rally. He fell hitless again the next day, contributing instead by catching Rube Oldring stealing and picking Jimmy Walsh off second base.

Pitching teammates Bill James and Dick Rudolph had creditable MVP cases, but Gowdy running a 1.961 OPS in the Deadball Era, even for four games, is impossible to ignore.

1915 – Boston Red Sox over Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1
(1-3, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 5-4)
MVP: Duffy Lewis, Red Sox — .444/.474/.667; 0.93 WPA

Boston’s left fielder was an offensive standout in a series that was low-scoring even for its era. Duffy’s eighth-inning single against Grover Cleveland Alexander tied the game (that Boston would eventually lose). Two games later, Lewis snazzily snatched Gavvy Cravath’s long fly to keep two Philly runs off the board, and his ninth-inning RBI single, again off Alexander, won the day. His double in Game Four gave Boston the insurance run it needed in a 2-1 squeaker, and an eighth-inning two-run homer the next day pulled the Red Sox even in a game they’d win one inning later.

Getting an honorable mention is Boston pitcher Rube Foster, who won two games while giving up five runs, and whose ninth-inning single knocked in Game Two’s decisive tally. Rube was great; Duffy was better.

1916 – Boston Red Sox over Brooklyn Robins, 4-1
(6-5, 2-1 [14], 3-4, 6-2, 4-1)
MVP: Babe Ruth, Red Sox – 1 G (1-0), 14 IP, 6H, 1R, 3W, 4K; 0.89 WPA

Babe Ruth, still not revealed to the world as the Bambino, played just one game of this Series, but he made it count. He yielded a first-inning run—on an inside-the-park round-tripper, no less—to start Game Two. It was the last damage the Robins would do him that day. Babe made the run up with an RBI groundout in the third, his only offensive highlight on an 0-for-5 day. He did his real work with his arm.

Rather than weakening with fatigue, Ruth strengthened, giving up no hits and one walk (plus a baserunner on an error) in his last six innings. Brooklyn’s Sherry Smith matched him as long as he could, including a Houdini escape from a ninth-inning jam, but lost on a walk, single, and bunt in the 14th. Babe’s final 13 scoreless frames would eventually extend to 29 2/3 in World Series play, a record until 1961 and reportedly one Babe treasured even more than 60 or 714.

1917 – Chicago White Sox over New York Giants, 4-2
(2-1, 7-2, 0-2, 0-5, 8-5, 4-2)
MVP: Red Faber, White Sox – 4 G (3-1), 27 IP, 21 H, 7 R, 3 W, 9 K; 0.30 WPA

Emerging from a scrum of good performers is Faber, overcoming a WPA that isn’t the best the showdown produced. Red opened his case with a merely good two-run effort in winning Game Two, then set himself back by giving up three runs in seven innings during a Game Four shutout defeat. Two days later, he came into Game Five as Chicago’s fourth pitcher (a shocking number then). He pitched two perfect innings as his White Sox stormed ahead to win a wild game. Two days after that came just another garden-variety two-run complete game to win the Series.

Three wins would have been enough to turn sportswriters’ heads, so it puts Faber in front by a head.

1918 – Boston Red Sox over New York Giants, 4-2
(1-0, 1-3, 2-1, 3-2, 0-3, 2-1)
MVP: Carl Mays, Red Sox – 2 G (2-0), 18 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 3 W, 5 K; 1.15 WPA

In a pitching-dominated series—a combined 19 total runs were scored in six games—the MVP had to be a pitcher, and Carl Mays narrowly won the contest. He allowed one run in each of his two complete-game wins in Games Three and Six. The latter looked more impressive, a three-hit effort that closed out the Cubs, where Mays also scored the opening run. (For this series, that was big offensive production.) Kudos must go to Chicago’s Hippo Vaughn, who pitched three complete games and permitted only three runs, but that was good for just a 1-2 mark. Victory has its privileges.

1919 – Cincinnati Reds over Chicago White Sox, 5-3
(9-1, 4-2, 0-3, 2-0, 5-0, 4-5 [10], 1-4, 10-5)
MVP: Hod Eller, Reds – 2 G (2-0), 18 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 W, 15 K; 0.60 WPA

This is who the sportswriters would have chosen, mainly because his strongest competitors would ironically have been on the Black Sox. Joe Jackson would have been a tempting choice with a .375/.394/.563 batting line, if his reported lollygagging in the field hadn’t been too obvious. Catcher Ray Schalk, a Clean Sock, hit .304 and threw out 10 of 17 Cincinnati base-stealers. Then there was Dickey Kerr, who won two complete games, one in extras, while giving up four runs, despite the efforts of several teammates.

A just world would have given Kerr the award. He wasn’t playing in a just world that year.

1920 – Cleveland Indians over Brooklyn Robins, 5-2
(3-1, 0-3, 1-2, 5-1, 8-1, 1-0, 3-0)
MVP: Stan Coveleski, Indians – 3 G (3-0), 27 IP, 15 H, 2 R, 2 W, 8 K; 1.02 WPA

Not every pitcher who wins three games in a seven-game Series merits MVP honors, but Stan Coveleski’s work punched his ticket, first-class. He opened the series by smothering Brooklyn for one run on five hits and a walk. Four days later, his Indians down two games to one, he hit the exact same numbers in dropping the Robins. Just three days after that, he got the call to clinch the title. This time he did without the walk, or the run, shutting out Brooklyn to win the championship.

Stan’s pitching WPA of 1.29 (he had a lousy series hitting) nearly equaled Mathewson’s mark from 1905. Next year, it would be more than equaled.

1921 – New York Giants over New York Yankees, 5-3
(0-3, 0-3, 13-5, 4-2, 1-3, 8-5, 2-1, 1-0)
MVP: Waite Hoyt, Yankees – 3 G (2-1), 27 IP, 18 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 11 W, 18 K; 1.43 WPA

This may be the greatest World Series performance ever, and it came in the obscurity of defeat. Hoyt began with his best effort, a two-hit shutout in Game Two. His return in Game Five was rougher, starting with a bases-loaded jam and an unearned run. Hoyt held the Giants there, dancing between 10 hits worth of raindrops while his Yankees fought back to win 3-1. His Game Eight began with another unearned run in the first. Again, he shut out the Giants after that. This time, the Yankees could not answer. Hoyt lost 1-0, and the Yankees were out.

Given the much looser run environment of 1921 (thank your teammate Babe for that, Waite), yielding two unearned runs in 27 innings then may have been a finer feat than 27 shutout frames was in 1905. We can’t say for sure. We just have the pleasures of comparing and wondering.

1922 – New York Giants over New York Yankees, 4-0-1
(3-2, 3-3 [10], 3-0, 4-3, 5-3)
MVP: Jack Scott, Giants – 1 G (1-0), 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 W, 2 K; 0.53 WPA

There are no clear-cut winning candidates for this series. The best pitching options threw in just one game apiece. The Giants’ runaway RBI leader, Irish Meusel, had a .650 OPS and a WPA barely above zero. Slash-line leaders like Frankie Frisch and Heinie Groh piled up neither great WPAs nor big traditional runs scored/RBI figures.

Given no other firm foundation, I’ll go with narrative. Jack Scott was released by the Reds in May for a lame arm, and fetched up with the Giants in desperation. Manager John McGraw nursed him along, got him pitching and winning games, and finally started him in Game Three of the World Series. Scott twirled a four-hit shutout, and my MVP nod is in recognition of his heartwarming revivification.

1923 – New York Yankees over New York Giants, 4-2
(4-5, 4-2, 0-1, 8-4, 8-1, 6-4)
MVP: Casey Stengel, Giants — .417/.563/.917; 0.66 WPA

Stengel didn’t even play the full series—the platoon center fielder was kept on the bench against fellow lefties—but he almost personally kept the Giants in it. In a tied Game One, his ninth-inning, two-out, inside-the-park home run won both the game and immortality from the pen of Damon Runyon. (“This is the way old Casey Stengel ran yesterday afternoon,” his prose began, “running his home run home.”) Two games later, his homer (over the fence) in the seventh broke a scoreless tie and gave his Giants a 1-0 victory.

He couldn’t win the whole thing for the Giants, though. That southpaw so-and-so Herb Pennock kept getting in the way.

1924 – Washington Senators over New York Giants, 4-3
(3-4 [12], 4-3, 4-6, 7-4, 2-6, 2-1, 4-2 [12])
MVP: Roger Peckinpaugh, Senators — .417/.462/.583; 0.76 WPA

Washington’s shortstop earned this award in what amounted to three games. His ninth-inning double in Game One got his Senators tied, though they would bow in 12. The next day, his ninth-inning double won the game, but he injured his left thigh running it out. He played briefly in Game Three before being removed, and came back only in Game Six. There, playing before President Coolidge, he went 2-for-2 with a walk, scored a run, and made a thrilling defensive stop in the ninth that preserved his team’s 2-1 lead. That play also wrecked his knee. His Series was over, but he’d proven himself its best player.

Peckinpaugh would be healthy for the full World Series the next year. In it he made eight errors, and was universally recognized as the goat. Easy come, easy go.

1925 – Pittsburgh Pirates over Washington Senators, 4-3
(1-4, 3-2, 3-4, 0-4, 6-3, 3-2, 9-7)
MVP: Max Carey, Pirates — .458/.552/.625; 0.71 WPA

Center fielder Carey led Pittsburgh’s attack with 11 hits, and also took three for the team, two of the HBPs delivered by Walter Johnson. Carey scratched out just one hit in the first two games Johnson pitched, but in Game Seven he erupted against the Big Train. Double, single, double, double he went, driving in two runs and scoring three in a furious see-saw contest. His final time up, two gone and score tied, he hit a routine grounder to shortstop—but Roger Peckinpaugh’s mis-throw (see above) loaded the bases and set up the winning swat. Well, Max knew where to hit it.

1926 – St. Louis Cardinals over New York Yankees, 4-3
(1-2, 6-2, 4-0, 5-10, 2-3 [10], 10-2, 3-2)
MVP: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Cardinals – 3 G (2-0, 1 Sv), 20.1 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 W, 17 K; 0.86 WPA

Ol’ Pete made folks forget his disappointing 1915 World Series, and how. The weathered veteran held the withering attack of Murderers’ Row to two runs apiece in victories in Games Two and Six. His contribution seemed finished—until the bullpen call came in the home seventh of Game Seven. The Yankees, down one, had loaded the bases with two outs. Alexander faced Tony Lazzeri, On four pitches—one admittedly a screaming liner into the stands, foul—Alexander struck Lazzeri out. He’d allow just one walk the rest of the way, closing out the World Series with a legendary performance.

1927 – New York Yankees over Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-0
(5-4, 6-2, 8-1, 4-3)
MVP: Babe Ruth, Yankees — .400/.471/.800; 0.18 WPA

This award, like that other Babe’s in 1909, follows the consensus of contemporary observers. Ruth gets the nod for his high average and for hitting the only two home runs of the Series, one breaking a tie in the middle of Game Four. The rest of his performance wasn’t so clutch, though, leaving his WPA trailing his batting line.

There were other contenders for the laurels. Yankees shortstop Mark Koenig batted .500, fielded 1.000, and built a WPA more than twice that of Babe. Hurler Herb Pennock thrilled fans by retiring the first 22 Pirates in Game Three. Wilcy Moore contributed with a five-out save of Game One and a complete-game win in the clincher with just one earned run. But even at the end, 1927 was the Babe’s year.

1928 – New York Yankees over St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0
(4-1, 9-3, 7-3, 7-3)
MVP: Lou Gehrig, Yankees — .545/.706/1.727; 0.99 WPA

Poor Babe. He batted 10-for-16 in this World Series, with three doubles and three homers, all of the latter in a titanic Game Four eruption, and scored nine runs. He did way better than in ’27, and it wasn’t nearly enough to earn MVP honors.

Lou Gehrig showed supreme patience, drawing six walks to match his six hits. Every one of his hits drove somebody in, though with four home runs on that list, it wasn’t timeliness as much as pure thump. (Plus a dash of speed: one homer was inside-the-park.) All his homers and eight of his nine RBIs came with the Yankees tied or behind, so he wasn’t padding numbers in routs. Great hitting plus timeliness equals MVP, even against the Sultan of Swat on his own tear.

And the historic combination of Ruth and Gehrig is where the story leaves off for now. I’ll have the rest of the retrospective MVPs for you before Opening Day, perhaps a lot sooner.

References and Resources

  • Baseball-Reference
  • Retrosheet
  • SABR Baseball Biography Project
  • Archives of The Sporting News, The New York Times, and The New York Press
  • Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders
  • Daniel Okrent and Steve Wulf, Baseball Anecdotes
  • Lawrence S. Ritter, The Glory of Their Times
  • Cecilia Tan, The 50 Greatest Yankee Games

A writer for The Hardball Times, Shane has been writing about baseball and science fiction since 1997. His stories have been translated into French, Russian and Japanese, and he was nominated for the 2002 Hugo Award.
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4 years ago

So Grover Cleveland Alexander in ’26 was the original Madison Bumgarner, huh? Although, I’m disappointed you didn’t mention how that Series ended when Babe Ruth was caught stealing with GCA on the mound.

4 years ago

good, gooood stuff. thank you….i’m looking forward to part 2

Mike Dmember
4 years ago

Series WPA should be done on b-ref for every historical series. I’ve asked for this.

4 years ago

Great piece, Shane. I really like your contributions to THT.

You mentioned the 1960 World Series in the introduction to your selections. According to Wikipedia, the decision to give the MVP to Bobby Richardson was made at the start of the 8th inning of game seven while the Yankees were ahead. I wonder how close Vernon Law would’ve been winning the award, had the voting been post-game as is the norm?

I’m Saber aware, but not savvy enough to calculate the WPA for each player for that series. I know my question is outside the realm of your article, but would be interested to see who the REAL most valuable player of the 1960 World Series was.

4 years ago

I thought Face might have been up there with a good WPA number despite giving up runs in the finale. Slightly disappointed with Law’s value considering the how well he coped with the Yankees hitters compared to the other Buccos’ starters. I’m not surprised to hear Mantle was probably the real MVP.

Thanks for the reply, Shane. Looking forward to part two of your article.