Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lackluster MVPs?

Former MVPs (position players only) who finished with a batting average below .300 and slugging % below .500:

1988 Kirk Gibson (Dodgers) WS
1964 Ken Boyer (Cardinals) WS
1965 Zoilo Versalles (Twins) WS (runner-up)
1962 Maury Wills (Dodgers)
1955 Yogi Berra (Yankees) WS (runner-up)
1951 Yogi Berra (Yankees) WS
1944 Marty Marion (Cardinals) WS
1928 Mickey Cochrane (A's)
1926 Bob O'Farrell (Cardinals) WS
1926 Roger Peckinpaugh (Senators)
1914 Johnny Evers (Braves) WS

Mitigating factors

  • Maury Wills had 105 SB
  • Berra, O'Farrell and Cochrane were catchers; Marion, Peckinpaugh and Versailles were shortstops, which means that less offense was expected (especially back then)
  • Johnny Evers was in the dead ball era, and a 2nd baseman
  • Boyer was a 3rd baseman who led the league in RBI (119); nobody else in the league really put it together, although Willie Mays had a pretty good year (big surprise) with 47 HR, 111 RBI and 121 R.

In 1988, offense was pretty bad (Tony Gwynn won the NL batting crown with a .313 average), and the fact that the Dodgers went from 73 wins to 94 made a difference. In retrospect, it's a little surprising that Orel Hersheiser didn't get more votes for MVP (remember his record-breaking streak of 59 consecutive scoreless innings).

He won the Cy Young handily (sweeping the 1st place votes), but he came in 6th in MVP voting. For some reason, though, there have been far fewer MVP awards for pitchers in the NL than AL. It hasn't happened in the NL since Bob Gibson in 1988.

In the AL, pitchers won the MVP in 1971 (Vida Blue), 1981 (Rollie Fingers), 1984 (Willie Hernandez), 1986 (Roger Clemens), 1992 (Dennis Eckersley), and was really close in 1999 (I-Rod barely over Pedro).


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