Cy Young Errors

Haven’t written in a while so, with baseball season upon us and already going through the worst MVP choices more than once, I figured I would go through the Cy Young voting the same way.  It has been said that the Cy Young choices probably don’t have as many bad selections as the MVP vote because for the most part there are only about two or three choices as opposed to seven to ten.


As it turns out, that is correct.  Since 1931 – when the BBWAA first handed out their version of the awards – here are the differences in Win Shares between the winners and the highest total that season:


0 difference:  70 times (40%)

Less than 3:  34 (20%)

4-6 Win Shares:  27 (15%)

7-9 Win Shares:  20 (11%)

More than 10:  24 (14%)


Here’s the same data for the Cy Young Award:


0 difference:  69 times (61%)

Less than 3:  21 (19%)

4-6 Win Shares:  13 (11%)

7-9 Win Shares:  6 (5%)

More than 10:  24 (4%)


That being said, there have still been some bad ones.  Let’s take a look at the ten worst Cy Young selections:


  1. 1993 AL: Jack McDowell over Kevin Appier (6 Win Shares)

This is a pretty simple one to explain.  The White Sox won their first division title in a decade.  Frank Thomas was the unanimous MVP choice (not the best choice, mind you, but unanimous).  And Black Jack McDowell was 22-10 with a 3.37 ERA.  Yep.  His ERA was 11th in the AL.  He led the league in wins you say?  Well, his winning percentage was seventh.  He was 13th in strikeouts, 13th in K/BB, 23rd in K/9, sixth in FIP.  His Win Shares total is nice (21), but Kevin Appier led the league in ERA (2.56) and FIP (2.90), was seventh in K/9, AND had a better winning percentage than McDowell (.692 to .688).  But the Royals were 10 games behind the ChiSox and narratives tell the story sometimes.


  1. 1974 NL: Mike Marshall over Phil Niekro (7 Win Shares)

R.A. Dickey is the only Cy Young winner whose primary pitch was a knuckleball.  Phil Niekro twice lost to relievers while having the best Win Share total in the league.  There are really three reasons for this (two from Bill James)


  1. Style points matter. The voters prefer a fireballer over a junkballer.
  2. Voters veer (not always, but very often) towards winning records; most teams won’t take a chance with a knuckleballer if they are a contender. They will if they have nothing to lose.
  3. Someone does something “historical”.


I throw the third one in because of Mike Marshall and Bruce Sutter.  I also put the quotes there because of the significance.


Mike Marshall was on a division winner and had set the major league record for inning in relief with 208.1.  We’ll ignore that afterwards it took him five years to get within 70 innings of that total again.  And we’ll ignore that he pitched at Dodger Stadium.  Niekro:


  1. Led the league in innings
  2. Led the league in wins
  3. Led in complete games
  4. Had a better ERA than Marshall


Sometimes I just don’t get it.


7 (tie).  1992 AL:  Dennis Eckersley over Roger Clemens, 1983 AL:  LaMarr Hoyt over Dan Quisenberry (8 Win Shares)

How nine – repeat NINE – relievers have won the Cy Young award and Quiz never won one is on the list of reasons I believe I should have a vote over every member of the BBWAA for everything (I’m not saying I should; I’m saying I believe I should, please note the difference).


Both of these simple speak of division winners.  Eckersley is the worst MVP winner ever, but the A’s won for the third time in four years.  Hoyt won 24 games for a team that went to the playoffs for the first time in 24 years.  All Quiz did was set the major league record for saves while averaging more than two innings per outing (I’ll let you guys look at the current numbers for perspective).  He wasn’t a big strikeout guy, but he didn’t walk anyone, he didn’t give up a lot of hits, he didn’t throw wild pitches, he didn’t balk, he was as close to perfect as a pitcher could have been.  It’s a shame the voters never really noticed.


5 (tie).  1970 AL:  Jim Perry over Sam McDowell, 1977 AL:  Sparky Lyle over Jim Palmer (9 Win Shares)

Let’s start with the easy reasoning.  First, Jim Palmer had already won three awards, so what are you supposed to do, just vote him as the best just because he is? (answer:  Yes, but writers aren’t that smart)  Of course, the Yankees won their second straight AL East title, and Sparky Lyle . . . well, he pitched well.  But 137 innings, 26 saves (even then), and a FIP a full run higher than the ERA (and yes, I know we hadn’t developed FIP yet) should not have compared to 20-11, 22 complete games, and 182 more innings.


As for the former vote, also played for a team that played for a team the won their division and he won 24 games.  McDowell won 20 games, but for a team that finished 10 games below .500.  We’ll ignore that McDowell struck out more hitters, completed more games, threw 26 more innings, had a better ERA (2.92 to 3.04), had a better ERA+ (134 to 125), was just plain better.  But writers love their wins and they love their narratives more than they love facts.  Therefore, Perry had to win over Sudden Sam.


  1. (tie). 1958 MLB: Bob Turley over Warren Spahn, 1990 AL:  Bob Welch over Roger Clemens (10 Win Shares)

These are both pretty simple answers.  Well, one is.


Bob Welch was a 25-game winner for the Oakland A’s.  The A’s won their third straight division title.  Meanwhile, Dave Stewart pitched 29 more innings, struck out 39 more hitters, and gave up 10 fewer homeruns.  But you know “Some guys just know how to win!”  Makes one wonder why they don’t spread this knowledge to every teammate.


Bob Turley, wow.  Again, the W-L narrative rules the day.  Again, sports writers are simpletons.  That’s why you hear about “an elite level” without any standards set for “elite” or “you had to see” B.S. that writers use.  The fact of the matter is that writers generally are not numbers guys and numbers guys aren’t exactly good with the written language.  The writers don’t like digging until they wan to prove a narrative, and 21-7 was good enough to prevent digging.  Besides, Spahn won the year before.


1 (tie).  1978 NL:  Gaylor Perry over Phil Niekro and Pete Vuckovich over Dave Stieb (12 Win Shares)

Every witch hunter for all of the alleged “cheaters” over PED’s should be irate that Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame.  Accusations similar, convictions similar, rules different:  What Perry did was actually against the rules, therefore cheating.  But anyway, Perry threw 73 less innings than Niekro, struck out 94 fewer than Niekro, had an ERA+ 21 points worse than Niekro.  But again, 21-6 and “Guys just know how to win” and again, the knuckleball B.S.  Phil Niekro or Adam Wainwright are the two best pitchers never to win the Cy Young.


As for Vuckovich, he played for Harvey’s Wall Bangers, the 1982 Brewers who mashed their way to the pennant.  Vuckovich was the definition of mediocrity for the Cy Young Award.  To put it simply, NO PITCHER has ever had a lower Win Share total than Vuckovich’s 13.  Fernando Valenzuela and Rollie Fingers both had 17, and that was the year before in the strike shortened season.


So if you ask me for a tie breaker, Vuckovich is the worst award selection ever.


The 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot

The Hall of Fame ballot is out!  Today I’m going to go through every player on the ballot and say yes or no.  I must also add that a Hall of Fame voter can only vote for 10 at most, so that’s how many I will cast mine for.  I’ll list their Hall of Fame Rating (for how I figured that, go here to find out) and whether I voted Yes or No along with whatever reasons I need one way or the other. Players are listed alphabetically


Barry Bonds, LF (119.19 HOFR)

I know there are still some out there who will never get over the PED years, and that’s fine.  The fact still remains that 10 times he led the league in walks, 12 times in intentional walks, twice in homeruns, once in RBI, twice in batting average, 10 times in OBP, seven times in slugging percentage, nine times in OPS, has single season records for homeruns (73), walks (232), intentional walks (120 – which would have placed him fourth in the NL in 2004 if that was the only way they walked him), OBP (.609), slugging (.863), OPS (1.422), and OPS+ (268).  He has over 6,000 secondary bases (TB – H + BB + SB) and over 4,000 runs scored and RBI.  Yes, he was a jerk, but then again, we’re cutting a lot of players if we hold that standard.  YES


Chris Carpenter, SP (49.46)

Carpenter won the 2005 NL Cy Young Award.  He was probably better in 2009, but hey, the voters are getting better at this stuff.  He was a decent pitcher, but not a Hall of Famer.  NO


Roger Clemens, SP (99.51)

Another PED candidate.  But again, you want the basics?  Fine, he’s 354-184 (.658) and won seven ERA titles seven Cy Young Awards and the 1986 AL MVP.  For deeper diggers, he led the league in FIP nine times, in strikeouts five times, in ERA+ eight times.  I’m over the PED arguments, but if you aren’t that’s fine.  Hey, it’s America.  YES


Johnny Damon, CF (48.35)

Damon will get some credit for being one of the guys who broke the curse in Boston.  But his career 104 OPS+ isn’t thrilling, his arm rivaled most 10-year olds, and his per game stats are the greatest.  He was durable (13 times playing 145+ games), made two All-Star teams, but that’s really about it.  NO


Vladimir Guerrero, RF (62.33)

Vlad hits a bad part of the 10-player cutoff.  If I voted for 15 players he’s in.  He was one of the funnest players ever to watch in the history of the game.  You could never throw a pitch out of his reach.  He had a strong if not so accurate arm and loved to use it.  It hurts that he was done as an effective player by age 32.  But I hope – and believe – that he will get in one of these days, but on a ballot this loaded and restrictions, you have to make tough cuts.  NO


Livan Hernandez, SP (40.00)

1997 World Series MVP, made a couple of All-Star teams.  Also a career 4.44 ERA and a 95 ERA+.  NO


Trevor Hoffman, RP (47.73)

This selection all depends on what you make of the Save statistic.  Twice Hoffman led the league in Saves and is second all-time.  Closers are the single toughest position to consider and I’m still not sold on guys that come in and throw one inning.  NO


Orlando Hudson, 2B (37.38)

Aubrey Huff, 1B (33.46)

Jason Isringhausen, RP (33.46)

Do I really need to explain this?  NO


Andruw Jones, CF (63.56)

Another of the “next five” on the ballot.  In 1996 he homered twice in Game 1 of the World Series in Yankee Stadium as a 19-year old.  He was a terrific defensive center fielder (+243 total runs above average) but was really only an above average hitter.  That’s probably his biggest knock.  NO


Chipper Jones, 3B (73.10)

Played 364 games in the outfield, suffered a bad injury in 1994 and was a rookie in 1995.  A switch hitter who hit .303/.401/.529 (he’s on the short list of hitters with that line), was the 1999 NL MVP.  He’s one of the 10 greatest third basemen ever (I have him ranked fifth).  YES


Jeff Kent, 2B (58.55)

When I came up with my Hall of Fame Rating I found 60.00 to be my dividing line.  It is not an etched-in-stone number, but it is a very good guideline to start with.  Kent is right on the borderline.  He had three “great” years and a few good ones, but really didn’t do enough long enough.  A late start didn’t help matters, either.  Kent falls into the third group of players on this list – the Just Short Group.  NO


Carlos Lee, LF (38.57)

A nice player, but this will be his one time on the ballot.  Hopefully he has a close family friend in the BBWAA who will give him a vote so he won’t be shutout.  NO


Brad Lidge, RP (36.71)

I will always remember Brad Lidge for this nuclear blast off of Albert Pujols bat, but here are a couple other fun facts:


In 2008 he saved all 41 of his chances as he helped the Phillies win their first World Series since 1980

On June 11, 2003 the Astros sent six pitchers to the hill to no-hit the Yankees, a major league record.  Brad Lidge got the win.


But that isn’t enough to make the Hall.  NO


Edgar Martinez 3B, DH, (66.76)

Yes, a DH is a tough call, but if that’s really the case then no pitcher should ever go into the Hall because they don’t hit.  Edgar was an amazing hitter:


Player A: .312/.418/.515, 147 OPS+

Player B: .286/.380/.552, 141 OPS+


Player B is David Ortiz and seems to be a shoo-in for the Hall.  Player A is Edgar.  YES


Hideki Matsui, LF (35.40)

A player who got a late start because of his time in Japan (was a 29-year old rookie with the Yankees), so if one wants to give extra credit for his time across the Pacific, feel free.  I just don’t know how much credit to give, and until I do I can’t say yes.  NO


Fred McGriff, 1B (53.55)

Here is what I wrote about the Crime Dog on my Boyce of the People site:


“Ten times he hit 30 homers, between the ages of 24 and 38.  And I think this is where McGriff falls of for people.  His numbers were good, many times even great.  But when the higher powered numbers of the mid-to-late 90’s started skyrocketing, McGriff just stayed steady.  He never cleared 40 homers, he never racked up 110 RBI, only twice he scored 100 runs, and only three times did he hit .300.  Twice he led the league in homeruns, but none after 1992.  And that seems to be reflected in the Hall of fame voting (he’s never cleared 25%), and his HOFR of 53.55 falls short as well.  He was a nice player for a long time, but the all is about greatness, not niceness.”




Kevin Millwood, SP (47.02)

Threw a no-hitter with the Phillies, won an ERA title with a losing record for the Tribe.  Otherwise, he was on some really good Braves teams.


Quick note I remember:  My cousin mentioned that offseason that he wasn’t too excited about Millwood’s 98-64 career record.  I had to remind him that a 98-64 record over 162 games gets you a lot of postseason appearances.  NO


Jamie Moyer, SP (45.91)

How credit goes into longevity?  Jamie Moyer pitched for 25 major league seasons and logged 4074.0 innings.  He had a couple of 20-win seasons with some really good Mariner teams.  He also had a career 4.25 ERA and a 103 ERA+.  My system factors in per inning, 5-year peak, and All-Star level seasons, so hang-around value is limited at best.  He had some years, but basically benefited from being left handed.  NO


Mike Mussina, SP (77.17)

Mussina spent his entire career pitching in the American League East in a high offensive era.  He had a 3.5 K/BB rate, average 7.1 K/9.  He never won the Cy Young because he pitched in the same leagues as Johnson, Clemens, and Martinez, people were still enamored with W-L record, and those three really did put up some monster seasons.  If people only care about W-L record, his 270-153 mark ranks up there with some of the best all-time.  I look at his other stats and say, yes.  YES


Manny Ramirez, LF (70.29)

One of the five best right handed hitters of my lifetime.  Hit .312/.411/.585, helped break the Red Sox curse, carried a bad Dodgers team to the playoffs, hit 555 homeruns, and was one of the most productive hitter ever.  Yes, I know, PED’s.  But if Gaylord Perry can get in and people want to go to battle for Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, I’ll go to bat for Manny – not that he ever need anyone to bat for him.  YES


Scott Rolen, 3B (67.72)

This will surely come as a surprise to several who are more about flash and flare than results (more on that later), and if you have doubts, go back to the top and read the original article where I use Rolen as an example. If that’s not enough, the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year hit .281/.364/.490 (122 OPS+), was 150 runs above average as a third baseman, ranks as one of the 10 best third basemen ever.  He wasn’t flashy, he was just damn good.  YES


Johan Santana, SP (61.64)

Santana won two Cy Young Awards with the Twins and threw the first no-hitter in Mets history.  For three straight years he led the AL in WHIP, ERA+, FIP, and strikeouts.  Unfortunately his career was only 12 seasons and just over 2,000 innings.  He’s one of the more intriguing candidates, but I think the career length just isn’t enough.  NO


Curt Schilling, SP (79.42)

Yes, Schilling has said and tweeted a lot of things that will never endear him to anyone with a heart, but regardless of what anyone wants to say about the “character clause”, that’s not what the Hall of Fame is about.  His strikeout to walk rate is one of the greatest of all-time.  He’s got over 3,000 career strikeouts.  In 19 postseason starts he posted a 2.23 ERA and a WHIP below 1.000.


As far as what he said, Steve Carlton once accused every president from Kennedy to Clinton of treason and that basically the AIDS virus was invented to kill off gays.  Maury Will wrote in his book that he was never in love with his wife and only married her because he knocked her up – not the only guy to do it, but probably the only one to publish it.  Dixie Walker was a noted racist, and Joe McCarthy made it no secret that he hated southerners.  Curt Schilling is a far cry from perfect.  But I don’t hold that against his Hall of Fame candidacy.  YES


Gary Sheffield, RF (62.57)

An amazing swing; Gary Sheffield never struck out more than 83 times in a season (did it twice, once at 35 the second at 39 years old) despite such a violent swing.  He walked more than 300 more times than he struck out.  Is that enough, though?  His defense was horrific.  He was rather average as a baserunner.


Ultimately I have him in the second group of players, good enough to get in , but not one of the top ten on this list.  NO


Sammy Sosa, RF (61.58)

PED’s.  Helped save baseball.  A late bloomer.  Got caught using a corked bat.  Indifferent in the field.  Three times hit 60 homers (did not lead the league in any of those years).  He’s another second group guy. NO


Jim Thome, 1B (63.95)

He hit 612 homeruns, walked 1700 times, racked up over 4,000 secondary bases and 3000 runs and RBI.  He was never a glove guy and the “good ole boy” part ran some people thin.  But he was a great hitter when you pull away everything and focus on a hitter’s job.  He ranked 10th on the list, therefore got the final vote.  YES


Omar Vizquel, SS (39.28)

Everyone loves to compare him to Ozzie Smith.  It’s not a good comparison, but people do it.  For starters, while both guys had fielding percentages 1% above the league averages, Ozzie made 846 more plays despite playing 1175 fewer innings.  Total zone runs has Ozzie at 239, Omar at 134.  As hitters, Ozzie has an OPS+ of 87, Omar 82.  Weighted Runs Created?  Ozzie has a wRC+ of 90, Omar 83.  Baserunning?  Ozzie stole 176 more bases and was caught 19 fewer times.  By my HOFR system, Ozzie ranks 10th all-time, Omar is behind Jhonny Peralta, Andrelton Simmons, Maury Wills, Alan Trammell, Jimmy Rollins, Vern Stephens, Miguel Tejada, Troy Tulowitzki, Jim Fregosi, Rafael Furcal, Dick Bartell, Dick Groat, and Edgar Renteria, and all 22 Hall of Fame shortstops.


So why the Ozzie comparison?  Because both were fun to watch.  Omar made bare handed plays just because and dove because his range was more limited than anyone will ever admit (Omar’s range factor at short was 4.62, the average shortstop during his time was at 4.61).


There’s nothing wrong with being fun to watch.  But Rey Ordonez was fun. Mark Belanger was a defensive wonder at short as well.  We’ll also ignore PED use and the fact that he threw teammates under the bus with a tell-all book while he was still playing.  NO


Billy Wagner, RP (48.75)

Wagner was a better relief pitcher than Hoffman, but I still can’t pull the trigger on a reliever.  NO


Larry Walker, RF (66.35)

Coors Field is a mess for everyone, but I still don’t get it.  We have stats that account for era and home ballpark, so why is Walker’s 147 OPS+ in Denver (47% above average when you take into account park effects) so tough to figure out?  And it’s not like he was a bad player in Montreal or St. Louis.  He ranked ninth on my list, and he deserves to go in as the first Rockie.  Yes


Kerry Wood, RP (44.22)

Oh, Dusty Baker and Jim Riggleman.  Between the two of you there were two top of the rotation aces that you ran to the ground.  That 20-strikeout performance against the Astros as a rookie.  Oh what could’ve been.  NO


Carlos Zambrano, SP (46.69)

I was surprised that Zambrano pitched that long.  I didn’t think he had a long enough fuse.  That and he had a K/BB rate below 2.0, he walked a batter every other inning, and his blow ups are more known than his performance as a pitcher.  NO


So to recap, here are the guys listed by HOFR ranking:

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Curt Schilling

Mike Mussina

Chipper Jones                                                   The ones I vote for

Manny Ramirez

Scott Rolen

Edgar Martinez

Larry Walker

Jim Thome


Andruw Jones

Gary Sheffield

Vladimir Guerrero                                           The close but just too many to vote for

Johan Santana

Sammy Sosa


Jeff Kent                                                              Not quite

Fred McGriff


Chris Carpenter

Billy Wagner

Johnny Damon

Trevor Hoffman

Kevin Millwood                                                 The rest

Carlos Zambrano

Jamie Moyer

Kerry Wood

Livan Hernandez

Omar Vizquel

Carlos Lee

Orlando Hudson

Brad Lidge

Hideki Matsui

Aubrey Huff

Jason Isringhausen


The Sidorski Score

The Sidorski Score is a way to figure out just how infuriating a sacrifice bunt should be – the higher the score the higher the rage.  Ranges from 5 to 50 points.  As an example I will use Albert Almora’s sacrice against the Cardinals on April 4, and Michael Martinez’s bunt against Arizona on April 9.


What inning is the sacrifice occurring?

Simply ten minus the inning.  If the game is in extra innings, then it’s one point.

Date Last Inn SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1
04/09/17 Martinez 7 3


What is the run differential?

If it’s before the eighth inning or four plus runs then just atomically add ten points.  If it’s after the seventh and it’s a tie game add a point, if it’s a one run game add three points, if it’s two or three runs add five points.

Date Last Inn RD SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 4
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 13


Is a better hitter following?

If yes, then add two points.  If not add six points.

Date Last Inn RD BH SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y 6
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y 15


Is a pinch hitter bunting?

If no, then zero points.  If yes, add five points and keep me away from the manager.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 6
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 20


Where is the runner being advanced to?

This is the lead runner only.  If it’s a suicide/safety squeeze add a point, if he’s moving to third add five points, if it’s to second add three.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH ADV SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 2 9
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 3 25


Is it a high scoring game or a low scoring game?

Obviously the value of a run means a lot more in a low scoring game.  Again, before the eighth just add ten points.  After the eighth if there are a total of 20 or more runs add ten points, if there are less than ten runs scored add zero points.  Otherwise, take the total runs scored at the time and subtract ten from it.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH ADV TS SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 2 3 9
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 3 4 35


Did the first two hitters reach safely or did the leadoff hitter reach via a four pitch walk?

If either answer is yes, add five points.  Otherwise add zero points.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH ADV TS 12BR SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 2 3 N 9
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 3 4 Y 40


My 2017 Awards Picks

Today I’m selecting my picks for each of the individual awards in the American and National Leagues.


American League

Most Valuable Player:  Jose Altuve, Houston

Altuve leads the AL in average, is third in OBP, is fourth in Slugging, third in OPS.  His 8.2 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR, and 35 Win Shares all lead the league as well.  Maybe things would be different if Mike Trout had not missed six weeks of the season – even now he’s tied for second in Win Shares – but the fact is that he did miss those six weeks.  With all due respect to Jose Ramirez, Eric Hosmer, Trout, Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, and Frankie Lindor, my pick Is Altuve.


Cy Young Award:  Corey Kluber, Cleveland

The vote is between two pitchers, Kluber and Boston’s Chris Sale.  Yes, Kluber missed a month, but here are all of their stats:


Win Shares:  Kluber 22, Sale 20

bWAR:  Kluber 7.8, Sale 6.2

fWAR:  Sale 8.2, Kluber 7.1

ERA:  Kluber 2.27, Sale 2.75

ERA+:  Kluber 201, Sale 164

FIP:  Sale 2.22, Kluber 2.51

xFIP:  Kluber 2.49, Sale 2.62

ERA-:  Kluber 51, Sale 61

FIP-:  Sale 51, Kluber 57

xFIP-:  Kluber 56, Sale 59

CG:  Kluber 5, Sale 1

ShO:  Kluber 3, Sale 0

Average Game Score:  Kluber 68.3, Sale 65.3

QS:  Sale 23, Kluber 22

QS%:  Kluber 78.57%, Sale 74.19%

IP:  Sale 209.1, Kluber 198.2

K/9:  Sale 12.898, Kluber 11.869

WHIP:  Kluber .861, Sale .946

SO:  Sale 300, Kluber 262

K/BB:  Sale 7.317, Kluber 7.278

Adjusted Pitching Runs:  Kluber 48, Sale 40

Adjusted Pitching Wins:  Kluber 5.2, Sale 4.2

Base-Out Runs Saved (RE24):  Kluber 53.26, Sale 40.72


And basically with each of those stats they rank 1-2 the AL in each category.  But that count has 15 for Kluber, eight for Sale.  To be perfectly honest, I would love to give them both of the Cy Young Awards because they have been the best two pitchers in baseball this season.  But you can only give one in each league, and the guy who jumped from third in the Bill James Online Starting Pitcher Rankings at the beginning of the year to first is my pick.


Rookie of the Year Award:  Aaron Judge, New York

Yes, he had a prolonged slump after the All-Star Break.  But he was the biggest story of the first half, he leads the league in homeruns, runs, and walks, he has a 7.3 bWAR, he has 27 Win Shares, and he has a 7.3 fWAR.  This seems like the easiest vote of all of them.


Manager of the Year:  Paul Molitor, Minnesota

Several managers deserve credit for what they have accomplished this season.  Terry Francona and John Farrell were both expected to guide teams back to division titles, and both lived up to that (not as easy of an accomplishment as it seems) and Houston had high expectations and have lived up to them as well.  Joe Girardi’s Yankees rebounded a lot quicker than originally anticipated.


The Twins, though?  Most had them as a 90-loss team.  Their best player has been Byron Buxton (.253/.316/.419/.735, .249 True Average – .260 is average).  His staff has gotten 72.2 innings from Bartolo Colon.  And somehow this team will be playing in Yankee Stadium in a wild card game on Tuesday.  They have won about 12 more games than anyone would have reasonably expected them to win.


Rolaids Relief Ace:  Craig Kimbrel, Boston

Kimbrel’s averaging 16.39 K/9, he’s walked 14 guys all season.  This stands out, too.  He’s struck out 122 of 246 batters.  In 2012 he struck out more than half the hitters he faced, and he’s right there again.  That is how you slam doors shut at the end of games.


National League

Most Valuable Player:  Charlie Blackmon, Colorado

On Facebook I initially reacted with Charlie Blackmon as the MVP and I went back and forth until I decided that yes, I’m going with another leadoff guy as my league MVP.    He leads the league in Runs Created (via baseball-reference), he’s second in extra base hits, leads the league in average, triples, runs scored, total bases, hits, and runs scored, he’s second in offensive winning percentage, etc.  The NL is loaded with candidates and the race is really tight.  I’m sticking with Blackmon because he was my original choice, but if Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, or Corey Seager win the award I’m more than fine with it.


Cy Young Award:  Max Scherzer, Washington

Fun fact:  Clayton Kershaw has a chance to lower his career ERA for the ninth consecutive season.  While Kershaw has been very good this season, Scherzer still leads in strikeouts, K/9, and WHIP, as well as adjusted pitching runs and wins, and RE24.  Scherzer has also done this with 26 more innings than Kershaw.  So with all due respect to Zack Greinke, Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Gio Gonzalez, Robbie Ray, and Stephen Strasburg, my pick is Mad Max.


Rookie of the Year Award:  Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles

The 21-year old has a 147 OPS+, 39 homeruns, a .954 OPS, and a .599 Slugging.  He basically took this award by the end of June.


Rolaids Relief Ace:  Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles

The worst thing for a reliever to do is continually put runners on base.  Jansen did not walk a hitter until June 25.  He has seven walks all year.  His has allowed 51 baserunners in 66 innings.  That’s it.  His K/BB rate is 15.00.  He has only one blown save, to boot.

Steve Balboni

Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Steve Balboni.  Balboni was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1978 draft, four picks after the Orioles took Cal Ripken*.


*-The first overall pick in 1978?  Another big man who hit homeruns – Bob Horner.


He showed good power in the minors, hitting 26 and 34 homers in consecutive seasons in A and AA ball before getting a cup of coffee with the Yankees.  Then after hitting 33 homers in 125 games for AAA Columbus he got another brief trip to the big leagues.  He was with the big league club again in May of 1982, but struggled, went back down and kept hitting homers, this time 32 in just 83 games, which got him a September call back.  In 1983 he bounced back and forth between the bigs and AAA, hitting 27 homers in just 84 minor league games.  By this time he had displayed a .499 slugging average in the minors.


But the Yankees already had a promising first baseman who was four years younger named Don Mattingly, so in December of 1983 the Yankees sent Balboni and Roger Erickson to the Kansas City Royals for Duane Dewey and Mike Armstrong.


Though he didn’t walk a lot (with the exception of a couple of George Brett seasons no one on the Royals ever walked a lot) but he did crack 28 homers which was the second best total in the franchise’s history and the Royals won the weak AL West with an 84-78 record but were swept in the ALCS.


The following season was a struggle for a while for the aging Royals.  A team that was at one point the model franchise of the American League because of their homegrown talent was starting to get old.  After a loss to Detroit on August 5 the Royals were five behind the Angels with a 55-48 record.  They pick up their pace, though, going 36-23 (.610).  During that same stretch Balboni hit 13 homeruns, giving him 36 for the season, a franchise record.  The Royals twice came back from 3-1 series deficits to win their first World Series championship, but the homerun champion hit exactly zero homeruns in the ALCS or the World Series, but also zero doubles or any extra base hits for that matter.  He did go 8-25 (.320) in the World Series, though.


In 1986 he would hit 29 homers and in 1987 he hit 24 more.  In 1988 he struggled mightily out of the gate, hitting just .143/.156/.270 with two homers in 64 plate appearances before the Royals released him at the end of May.  In June he signed with the Mariners and put up respectable numbers in Seattle (111 OPS+).


Just before the start of the 1989 season he was traded back to the Yankees for Dana Ridenour (a minor league pitcher who never reached the big leagues).  The Yankees were dysfunctional at that time so they played Balboni a lot more than they should have and his big league career was basically done.  He did hit 86 more homers in the minor leagues with Oklahoma City – Texas’s AAA team – to give him 239 minor league homers and 420 career homers in both the majors and minors.


Now about those 36 homers in 1985.  That was 32 years ago.  Only once has anyone really gotten close to breaking the franchise record and that was Gary Gaetti in 1995.  Sure it was strike shortened, but imagine the idea of Gary Gaetti being the single season franchise homerun leader.


Hell, since 1986 every team has had at least one player hit more than Balboni’s 36, and only Pittsburgh failed to have a hitter clear 40 (Brian Giles hit 39).


I bring this up because the Royals’ Mike Moustakas is at 35 homeruns right now.  He should get two more and break the record, but in typical Royals’ fashion they have hit the skids.  At the time of this typing the Royals haven’t scored in 43 consecutive innings.  On August 1 they were just two games behind the Indians in the AL Central standings.  Now they are three out of the wild card race and on top of that are behind four other teams that are also trailing.  An 8-17 August will do that to you.


But Moustakas should hit at least two more homeruns.  He may be gone after this season – the team has several guys from their World Series run going to free agency and are already regretting siging Alex Gordon and his 69 OPS+ the last two years (and at 33 this year doesn’t look to get any better).


So the franchise’s single season homerun leader will likely still not be with the team next year.  But after 32 years it may finally be Bye Bye, Steve Balboni.

Cesar Cedeno

Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Cesar  Cedeno.  Cendeno was born in 1951 in the Dominican Republic and was signed by the Astros at age 16.  Just three years later he was in the big leagues, hitting .310/.340/.451 in 377 plate appearances with seven homers and 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts, and finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting*.


*-I get more of a kick out of the Rookie of the Year voting than in any other voting, because the results can leave people scratching their heads all these years later.  In 1970 the winner in the NL was Carl Morton, a pitcher with the Montreal Expos.  The best reasoning I can figure is that he was 18-11 for a second-year team that improved by 21 games.  He was done after the 1976 season with an 87-92 record and a 102 ERA+.  The others that finished ahead of Cedeno were Bernie Carbo (1.004 OPS that season) and Larry Bowa (who actually had a negative bWAR in 1970).


He followed up that by leading the league in doubles in each of the next two years.  In 1972 he made his first All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove to go along with a sixth place finish in the MVP voting.  From 1972 through 1974 Cedeno hit .302/.365/.509 (147 OPS+) and averaged 24 homers, 34 doubles, 56 stolen bases (76% success rate).  During the 1973 season his manager Leo Durocher compared him to Willie Mays, another center fielder he was familiar with.  But it wasn’t going to be all well and good.


In December of 1973 a gun went off in a motel room in which he and a 19-year old mistress were at.  The girl took a bullet to the head and eventually died, and Cedeno fled in panic.  Apparently alcohol and drugs were involved and there is only one person who knows for sure what happened.  He turned himself in the next day.  After some negotiating Cedeno served a grand total of 20 days in jail and paid a small fine.  Though he showed up to spring training with the incident theoretically behind him, many fans wouldn’t let him forget.


In 1980 the Astros were coming off of their best finish in franchise history (89-73, second in the NL West) and were looking to take the next step.  At the All-Star break they were tied for first and Cedeno was hitting .305/.372/.479.  They played every bit as well in the second half of the season, but couldn’t shake the Dodgers.  In what was an amazing year for pennant races, the final weekend of the year actually offered three races to be determined (the Royals had long clinched the AL West and finished 14 games ahead of Oakland).


In the AL East, the Yankees clinched on the next to last day of the season, denying a 100-win Orioles team a postseason berth.  In the NL East the Mike Schmidt’s two-run blast in the 11th inning in Montreal clinched the division title over the Expos on the Saturday before season’s end.  Houston didn’t make it as easy on themselves.  After a 3-2 win over Atlanta and the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Giants the Astros had a three game lead with three games left to play – all in Los Angeles.


The Dodgers took the first game in 10 innings when Joe Ferguson homered off of Ken Forsch.  In the second game Steve Garvey homered off of Nolan Ryan to lead off the fourth and break a 1-1 tie that held up.  In series finale the Astros had an early 3-0 lead but squandered it and lost when Ron Cey hit a two-run homer off of Frank LaCorte in the bottom of the eighth, forcing a one-game playoff for the NL West title.


The Dodgers comeback went for naught, though.  The Astros scored a pair in the first and third innings and added three more in the fourth, Joe Niekro threw a complete game six-hitter and the Astros were NL West champs for the first time.  The Astros lost the NLCS to the Phillies in an incredible five game series (four of the five games went into extra innings), but Cedeno who suffered a broken ankle and would see a new position the following year.

In 1981, though, things had boiled over for Cedeno.  After years of hearing “MURDERER!!!” and “WHO’S NEXT?!” – and eventually getting racial – about his 1973 incident Cedeno had enough and actually charged into the seats to confront on particular heckler.


That was probably one of several factors that led to Cedeno being traded by the Astros to the Reds for Ray Knight.  After being reduced to a part time role in Cincy, and was traded in late August for a minor league outfielder to St. Louis as a replacement for an injured Vince Coleman.  In 28 games Cedeno .434/.463./750 with six homers, four doubles, and five steals to help the Cardinals fend off the New York Mets and win the NL East.  The Cardinals would win the pennant but lose the World Series in epic fashion.  It was also Cesar Cedeno’s last shining moment.  He retired after putting up a .576 OPS in just 37 games with the Dodgers.


In 1985 he had an argument with a new girlfriend and then drove into a tree.  When the police arrested him he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and then got violent, attempting to kick his way out of the back seat.  The following year Cedeno smashed a glass in a man’s face after being bumped into accidentally and was charged with assault and resisting arrest.  Then in 1988 things got ugly again.  This time he not only assaulted his latest girlfriend but at one point took their four month old child and then returned to beat her again.  Again he was charged with assault and resistance.


He had his personal troubles and he had his share of injuries (besides the broken ankle he had a knee injury in 1972 winter ball, a torn ligament in 1978, and had a bout with hepatitis in 1979), but it’s pretty clear where Durocher came up with the Mays comparison.


Cedeno stole 50 bases six times.  At the time of Durocher’s comparison he was having his second straight season with a .537 slugging average and a .320 average.  Besides injuries the prime of his career was spent in the Astrodome, where fly balls went to die.


But for his career he hit .283/.347/.443 (123 OPS+), hit 199 homeruns, 436 doubles, 60 triples, stole 550 bases (75.4% success rate), won five Gold Gloves, and made four All-Star teams.  His HOFR of 58.18 puts him a little short of the Hall of Fame by my math, but even a couple of more good years may not have made the difference because of his off field issues.  Regardless, he was one of the first real stars the Astros produced, and was a very good all-around player during one of baseball’s most eclectic eras.

Frank Tanana

Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Frank Tanana.  Tanana was the 13th overall pick of the 1971 draft by the California Angels.


That draft was famous because in the second round Mike Schmidt and George Brett were taken with back-to-back picks.  But Tanana was actually the first pick in the draft that actually was of any real value to a team.  Two picks later Jim Rice was selected.  Rick Rhoden was taken a few picks later, and that was really the best of the first round.  Ron Guidry went in the third round, and after that it was pretty slim pickens.  Such is the crapshoot that is the draft.


Tanana made it to the big leagues in September of 1973 and by 1974 was at the top of the Angels’ rotation with Nolan Ryan.  In 1975 he struck out a league high 269 hitters and recorded a league best 2.49 FIP to go along with league leading K/9 and K/BB rates and tied with Jim Kaat for fourth in the Cy Young voting.  The following season he made his first of three straight All-Star teams, finished third in the Cy Young voting, and led the league in WHIP and K/BB rate.  In 1977 he led the league in shutouts, ERA, and ERA+.


But his strikeout rate was dropping rapidly.  After two straight seasons of 260+ strikeouts he dropped to 205 in 1977 and then 137 in 1978.  In 1979 a shoulder injury sidelined him from early June through August.  When he returned in September he still struggled, pitching just 29 innings in five starts and recorded less than four strikeouts per nine innings.  The Angels did win their first division title, but lost the best-of-five ALCS to Baltimore in four games.  Tanana got a no decision in California’s lone win as Larry Harlow’s double in the ninth finished off the two-run rally for a 4-3 win.


After the 1980 season Tanana was traded with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi to Boston for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko.  He pitched only one season in Boston; for the first time in a full season he failed pitch 200 innings.  He was a free agent at season’s end and signed with the hopeless Texas Rangers.  In his three and a half seasons with Texas he had a 3.81 ERA (106 ERA+), but his won-loss record was 31-49 because the Rangers were terrible.


In June of 1985 he was traded to his hometown Detroit Tigers.  The defending World Series champs would go 48-51 the rest of the way to finish third in the division.  In 1987 the Tigers were caught up in a tight pennant race with the Blue Jays.  The race came down to the last weekend of the season and the two teams met for a three game finale in Detroit with the Tigers trailing by one game in the standings.  Detroit took the first game 4-3.  The Tigers then took the second game in 12 innings.  This meant that one more win would give the Tigers the division and a loss would force a one-game playoff.  Jimmy Key gave up a homerun to Larry Herndon in the second inning and that was all the scoring as Tanana pitched a complete game shutout and the Tigers were the division champs.  They lost the ALCS to the Twins in five games and would not return to the playoffs for nearly 20 years.


After the 1992 season he signed with the Mets.  The Mets were a shattered disaster of what was looking like a dynasty just four years earlier.  He was traded late in the season to the Yankees as the Bronx Bombers were making a last ditch run at the AL East.  They would fall seven games short and that would be Tanana’s last hurrah.


His HOFR of 57.72 puts him short of the Hall in my system.  But he still racked up just under 4200 innings, and struck out over 2700 hitters.  My two favorite tidbits about Tanana are these:


  1. In 616 games he started in his career his teams were 308-308 – exactly .500
  2. He and Rick Reuschel are the only two pitchers to give up homeruns to both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.


Overall he was a good pitcher for a very long time.  But I wonder what would’ve happened if he could’ve kept up the early start he had.  It was said about him that he threw 90 in the 70’s and 70 in the 90’s.  If he could’ve kept up the velocity longer he might have done enough to get a plaque in Cooperstown . . .

Tim Wallach

Today’s Random Player from The Baseball Project That May or May Not Amount to Anything is Tim Wallach.  Wallach was taken with the tenth overall pick of the 1979 draft by the Montreal Expos out of Cal State Fullerton.


He made his major league debut on September 6, 1980 in San Francisco.  His first time up he drew a walk.  His second time up he homered making him the 55th player ever to homer in his first official at-bat.


It have always found this to be a fascinating list, players who homered in their first at-bat.  There’s 121 of them.  For 22 of those players that was the only homerun they ever hit.  Only two of the 121 reached the Hall of Fame – Earl Averill is one, Hoyt Wilhelm is the other.  Jay Bell and Bert Campaneris both did it, and both later would lead the league in sacrifice bunts.  Will Clark’s first at-bat was famously in the Astrodome against Nolan Ryan.  The player with the most homeruns on that list?  Gary Gaetti of course, with 360.  Like I said, it’s a fascinating list.


He started getting regular playing time in 1981, Montreal’s only playoff run.  By 1982 he was the team’s everyday third baseman, replacing the traded Larry Parrish.  In 1982 he posted a 115 OPS+ for the Expos with 28 homers and 31 doubles.  In 1984 he made his first All-Star team.  In 1987 he finished fourth in the MVP voting, hitting .298/.343/.514 (121 OPS+) with a league leading 42 doubles.  Two years later hit would hit 42 more to lead the league.  Overall from 1982 through 1992 he hit .260/.318/.420 (105 OPS+), made five All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.


But things in Montreal were starting to go south.  The arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays took the Expos from the only team in the country to second fiddle.  Trading away future Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Tim Raines and losing Andre Dawson to free agency wasn’t helping matters.  Wallach became the next casualty, traded to the Dodgers for Tim Barker, a middle infielder who never reached the majors despite a lifetime .372 OBP in 3,919 minor league plate appearances.


That may sound bad, but Wallach was 35 at the time, coming off of his worst season in Montreal.  In 1993 he posted a 68 OPS+.  He rebounded in 1994 hitting .280/.356/.502 win 113 games before the strike took away the season.   After the 1995 season he signed with California Angels, a team who collapsed in the final month of the season to choke away a playoff spot.  He wasn’t going to get things turned around though, and after 57 game he was released.  A week later he resigned with the Dodgers and didn’t fare much better.  After a 0-for-11 showing in NLDS against the Braves, Wallach called it quits.


Wallach is still the Expos/Nationals all-time leader in total bases, hits, and RBI.  He’s also in the franchise’s top ten in walks, doubles, triples, homers, and fWAR.  His HOFR of 44.70 drops him well short of Hall of Fame consideration, but he was a fine player at a time when the Expos were churning out talent as well as any franchise has.


He currently is Don Mattingly’s bench coach in Miami.  He has three sons, all of which were drafted.  Matt was a catcher and first baseman in the Dodgers organization, hanging up his cleats in 2013.  Brett was a pitcher in the Dodgers and Cubs organizations before wrapping up his career with Grand Prairie in the independent American Association in 2015.  Chad has been a catcher in the Marlins and Reds organizations and is currently in Louisville (AAA).


The All-Star Game

Tonight is the 88th Major League Baseball All-Star Game.  In 1933 Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune pushed for the game to go along with the World Fair.  That first All-Star game was played on July 6, 1933.  Lefty Gomez drove in the first run in the bottom of the second.  The next inning an aging Babe Ruth hit the first homerun in All-Star game history.  Frankie Frisch hit a homerun of his own for the National League, but the AL would hold on to win 4-2.


The American would win 12 of the first 16 games, but things would turn around after integration.  Led by the likes of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and others, the Senior Circuit would win 30 of the next 37 (there was one tie), including a humiliating 19 out of 20 from 1963 through 1982.


In 1982 the game was played in Canada for the first time.  Montreal hosted the game and the five Expos who played in the game had their finger prints all over it.  Steve Rogers pitched three innings and got the win, Gary Carter had an RBI single, Tim Raines walked and stole a base, Al Oliver had two hits, and Andre Dawson added a hit as the NL extended their winning streak to 11 straight with a 4-1 win.


In 1983 the American League won for the first after 11 straight defeats in the place where it all began, Comiskey Park.  Fifty years to the day the American League used a seven run second inning – highlighted by the first (and so far only) grand slam in All-Star Game history – to defeat the NL 13-3.  That grand slam came off the bat of the Angels’ Fred Lynn with Manny Trillo on third, Rod Carew on second, and Robin Yount on first.  The unfortunate pitcher to give it up was Atlee Hammaker of the Giants.


Starting in 1997 when Sandy Alomar became the first player to win the game’s MVP award in his own home park (his two-run homer in the seventh broke a 1-1 tie and became the final score.  As Joe Buck put it “Hometown hero, goodbye!”).  The American League has won 16 of the last 20, with one infamous tie in there.


That tie was the second one in the game’s history and took place in 2002.  Besides the ridiculous use of pitchers, Joe Torre felt obligated to bring five shortstops to the game*.  The fifth one was Omar Vizquel, whose RBI triple in the eighth inning tied the game and brought in the format we’ve had up until this year.


*-For the record, Alex Rodriguez was voted as the starter.  After that, I don’t care which other one he took.  Taking five was ridiculous.  Even taking three would’ve been at least defensible.  Five wasn’t.


In 1999 Major League Baseball announced the top 100 players of the 20th century at the game in Fenway Park.  The ceremony was capped off by the present day All-Stars gathering around Ted Williams as he went to throw out the first pitch.


The 1971 All-Star Game featured 26 future Hall of Famers who launched six homeruns, highlighted by Reggie Jackson’s blast that nearly left Tiger Stadium.


In 1994 Fred McGriff’s ninth inning homerun tied the game for the National League and the subsequent win snapped a six-game losing streak for the NL.


In 1941 with the American League trailing 5-3 in the ninth in Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio had a chance to be the hero, but hit an RBI ground out.  Ironically Ted Williams followed that with a three-run homerun to give the American League a 7-5 win in what turned out to be one of the most famous seasons in the sport’s long history.


In 1989 Bo Jackson interrupted former President Ronald Reagan* with a blast to straight away center field off of the Giants’ Rick Reuschel.


*-It should be noted that Ronald Reagan is famous for playing the Gipper in “Knute Rockne:  All-American”, but he also played Grover Cleveland Alexander in the movie “The Winning Team”.  If you’ve never heard of it or wondered why this wasn’t brought up during the eulogies at the time of his death, allow Joe Posnanski’s review of the movie sum up why:  “’The Winning Team’ is so spectacularly bad, there is no possible way you can watch it for more than 10 minutes without your eyes bleeding.”


In 1970 Pete Rose famously crashed into the Indians’ Ray Fosse to win the game for the National League.


Charlie Gehringer and Ted Kluszewski both batted .500 in their All-Star Game careers.  Mike Trout and Alfonso Soriano both have 1.000 slugging percentages.  Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial all played in 24 All-Star games.  Musial hit six homeruns while Mays had 23 hits and both had 40 total bases.  Those are all-time records.


Al Rosen, Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Arky Vaughan, and Gary Carter all hit two homeruns in one All-Star game.  What do Rosen and Williams have in common?  Both were hit theirs in their home ball parks.  What do Rosen and Carter have in common?  Both their games were in Cleveland Municipal Stadum.


Ted Williams drew 11 walks in 57 All-Star plate appearances.  Even in an All-Star game he wasn’t swinging at everything.


Anyone reading this probably knows that Carl Hubbell famously struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin consecutively after allowing a single and a walk to start the 1934 game.  Do you know who the winning pitcher was that game?  It was the Indians’ Mel Harder, who pitched five scoreless innings in relief.


For his career Harder threw 13 innings in the Mid-Summer Classic.  He never allowed a run and with the win also recorded two saves.


Hank Aaron, for all his greatness, only managed a .194/.222/.284 career line in 72 All-Star plate appearances.


What do Willie Mays, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Steve Garvey, and Mike Trout all have in common?  All five won the All-Star Game MVP twice.


The Griffey’s both won the MVP of the game, Senior in 1980, Junior just 12 years later.


Coming into tonight, the National League leads the American League 43-42-2.  The NL has outscored their AL counterparts 360-359.


No, tonight’s game doesn’t mean a whole lot.  But for baseball fans it can trigger some imaginations and recall some memories of years past.  Regardless, enjoy the best All-Star Game going.

Worst MVP Selections Redux

After hastily putting together a list of the ten worst MVP selections since 1950, I decided to dig deeper into this idea and put more emphasis on the gap.  Bill James looked into this several years ago in his “Win Shares” book, and since my copy has completely fallen apart (I only have the back half that has career totals from 1876 through 2001) I decided to recreate the MVP comparison list from 1931 through last season.  Then I sorted them by the biggest difference in Win Shares between the player voted the Award and the player who finished with the best Win Share total.  Again I took out years that catchers won the award for reasons I stated in the previous post.  I did this for two reasons:


  1. I wanted a better list than the one I hastily put together, and
  2. I wanted to see exactly where Pat’s claim about Mo Vaughn over Albert Belle would really rank


So let’s just answer a few questions.


Question 1:  What are the “Ten Worst MVP Selections Since 1950” based on the Win Shares method?

There are actually 11 when you factor in ties:


Tie for 8th:  Juan Gonzalez over Albert Belle (1998), Roger Maris over Mickey Mantle (1961), Jackie Jensen over Mickey Mantle (1958), and Steve Garvey over Mike Schmidt (1974).  12 Win Shares each


Tie for 4th:  Juan Gonzalez over Alex Rodriguez (1996). Willie Hernandez over Cal Ripken (1984), Ken Boyer over Dick Allen (1964), and Dick Groat over Willie Mays and/or Eddie Mathews (1960).  13 Win Shares each


Third Place:  Andre Dawson over Tim Raines (1987).  14 Win Shares


Second Place:  Willie Stargell (split with Keith Hernandez) over Mike Schmidt and/or Dave Winfield.  15 Win Shares


First Place:  Dennis Eckersley over Roberto Alomar (1992).  16 Win Shares


How much did this match up with your original list?

Six of the ten I listed made this list.


Where does Mo Vaughn over Albert Belle rank?

It would tie for 30th on this list.


Since six of the previous ten I have already written about, let’s take a look at the other five.


1998 AL MVP:  Juan Gonzalez wins over Albert Belle.

This one made little sense then and makes less sense now.  Yes, Albert was not a media darling.  Yes, the White Sox were below .500.  Yes, Albert was a poster child for what was wrong with big money and taking the money and running and lack of loyalty and blah blah blah.  But Albert also posted a .328/.399/.655 with a 172 OPS+, had 49 homers, 48 doubles, 113 runs scored, and 152 RBI, good enough to pace the league with 37 Win Shares.


Juan Gone led the league in RBI with 157.  That and he had two more doubles than Belle.  His 25 Win Shares were second on his own team, as Pudge Rodriguez had 27 behind the plate.  Gonzalez was tied for tenth in the league in Win Shares.


So maybe you didn’t want to vote for a player on a losing team?  You had four players on a 114-win Yankees team that each finished ahead of Gonzalez.  Manny Ramirez was on a division champion and had as many Win Shares.  A-Rod had a 30 Win Share season.  But when people think Belle was ripped off in 1995, remember that 1998 was a bigger heist.


1961 AL MVP:  Maris over Mantle.

One of the popular trivia questions has been “How many times was Roger Maris intentionally walked in 1961?”.  The answer is none.  That’s because Mantle batted behind Maris the whole year.  We know that Maris hit 61 homers that year.  That and Mantle missed the seven of the final ten games with injury.  But come on, when someone passes Babe Ruth they are probably getting the award.


1996 AL MVP:  Gonzalez over A-Rod.

A-Rod’s 1996 season was the equivalent to Boston’s debut album 20 years earlier.  The 20-year old hit .358/.414/.631 (161 OPS+), led the league in average, doubles (54), and runs scored (141), had 215 hits, 36 homers, and 123 RBI.


Gonzalez had a nice season, hitting .314/.368/.643 (145 OPS+) with 47 homers and 144 RBI,  His 21 Win Shares tied him for 23rd in the AL that season, with the likes of Charles Nagy, Bobby Higginson, and Tino Martinez.


But it was the first time the Texas Rangers made the playoffs, so naturally someone from the Rangers had to be the MVP.  There are five players in this study who won multiple MVP awards when there was a player with a higher Win Share total.  Of the five, Gonzalez has the highest total of Win Shares between his winning totals and the top Win Share players:


Juan Gonzalez 25
Roger Maris 17
Ernie Banks 14
Miguel Cabrera 9
Dale Murphy 8


Also, of all of the multiple MVP winners since 1950, Gonzalez had two of the four seasons registered that did not reach 30 Win Shares and easily has the lowest total score of those seasons:


Barry Bonds 7 314 44.9
Mickey Mantle 3 133 44.3
Albert Pujols 3 107 35.7
Alex Rodriguez 3 102 34.0
Mike Schmidt 3 98 32.7
Roy Campanella 3 94 31.3
Yogi Berra 3 89 29.7
Willie Mays 2 83 41.5
Joe Morgan 2 81 40.5
Johnny Bench 2 81 40.5
Frank Robinson 2 75 37.5
Mike Trout 2 75 37.5
Robin Yount 2 73 36.5
Cal Ripken Jr. 2 69 34.5
Miguel Cabrera 2 69 34.5
Roger Maris 2 67 33.5
Dale Murphy 2 64 32.0
Ernie Banks 2 64 32.0
Frank Thomas 2 57 28.5
Juan Gonzalez 2 46 23.0



Now, we know that Bonds is going to lead the pack and the guys with three MVP’s will be ahead of the guys with two.  That isn’t the point of this list.  The point is that you can tell which ones had the sub-30 Win Share MVP awards.  Yogi Berra was a catcher, and since they generally don’t get 600 plate appearances in a season you can expect to see a catcher snag an award even if the numbers won’t completely add up.  Frank Thomas had 25 Win Shares in 1994, which was a strike-shortened year and it’s reasonable to expect that he could have accumulated five more over the final 50 or so games that were missed.  Gonzalez has the other two.  Ouch.


1964 NL MVP:  Ken Boyer over Dick Allen.

Dick Allen had a couple of things going against him in 1964.  First, he won the Rookie of the Year Award, and considering only two ROY winners also won the MVP in the same season, he wasn’t getting it.  Second, the Phillies folded like a cheap lawn chair, blowing a 6 ½ game lead with 12 games left to play.


Ken Boyer had two things going for him in 1964.  First, he led the league in RBI, a stat that never hurts the ole MVP resume to voters.  Second, his team was the team that overtook the Phillies down the stretch


But his 28 Win Shares was good enough for ninth in the league, 13 behind Allen.  Dick Allen should have gotten the award.


1960 NL MVP:  Dick Groat over Willie Mays/Eddie Mathews.

The Pirates improved by 17 games and won the pennant in 1960.  Dick Groat was their best player.  By simple (idiotic) logic.


Mays and Mathews on the other hand both posted 38-Win Share seasons, 13 ahead of Groat’s 25 (which was good enough to tie for seventh in the league).  Either one or Ken Boyer (31) would’ve have been a better choice.


Just one last side note:  From 1951 through 1962 11 of the 12 NL MVP’s were black while Dick Groat was the only white winner.  Over in the American League all 12 were white.  In 1963 Elston Howard finally became the first black player to win the AL MVP.


Just for reference, here are all of the MVP selections and the top Win Shares player for every year since 1931:


American League
Year Voted MVP WS WS MVP WS Dif
2016 Mike Trout 35 Jose Altuve 36 1
2015 Josh Donaldson 32 Mike Trout 42 10
2014 Mike Trout 40 Mike Trout 40 0
2013 Miguel Cabrera 37 Mike Trout 40 3
2012 Miguel Cabrera 32 Mike Trout 38 6
2011 Justin Verlander 34 Miguel Babrera 38 4
2010 Josh Hamilton 30 R.Cano/J.Bautista 34 4
2009 Joe Mauer 32 Joe Mauer 32 0
2008 Dustin Pedroia 26 Joe Mauer 30 4
2007 Alex Rodriguez 37 Alex Rodriguez 37 0
2006 Justin Morneau 26 Derek Jeter 32 6
2005 Alex Rodriguez 34 Alex Rodriguez 34 0
2004 Vladimir Guerrero 27 Gary Sheffield 30 3
2003 Alex Rodriguez 31 Carlos Delgado 32 1
2002 Miguel Tejada 32 Alex Rodriguez 35 3
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 36 Jason Giambi 38 2
2000 Jason Giambi 38 Jason Giambi 38 0
1999 Ivan Rodriguez 28 M.Ramirez/R.Alomar/D.Jeter 35 7
1998 Juan Gonzalez 25 Albert Belle 37 12
1997 Ken Griffey Jr. 36 Frank Thomas 39 3
1996 Juan Gonzalez 21 Alex Rodriguez 34 13
1995 Mo Vaughn 24 Edgar Martinez 32 8
1994 Frank Thomas 25 Frank Thomas 25 0
1993 Frank Thomas 32 Frank Thomas 32 0
1992 Dennis Eckersley 18 Robbie Alomar 34 16
1991 Cal Ripken Jr. 34 C.Ripken/F.Thomas 34 0
1990 Rickey Henderson 39 Rickey Henderson 39 0
1989 Robin Yount 34 R.Yount/R.Sierra 34 0
1988 Jose Canseco 39 Jose Canseco 39 0
1987 George Bell 26 Alan Trammell 35 9
1986 Roger Clemens 29 Wade Boggs 37 8
1985 Don Mattingly 32 Rickey Henderson 38 6
1984 Willie Hernandez 24 Cal Ripken Jr. 37 13
1983 Cal Ripken Jr. 35 Cal Ripken Jr. 35 0
1982 Robin Yount 39 Robin Yount 39 0
1981 Rollie Fingers 17 Rickey Henderson 27 10
1980 George Brett 36 George Brett 36 0
1979 Don Baylor 29 Fred Lynn 34 5
1978 Jim Rice 36 Jim Rice 36 0
1977 Rod Carew 37 Rod Carew 37 0
1976 Thurman Munson 24 George Brett 33 9
1975 Fred Lynn 33 F.Lynn/K.Singleton/J.Mayberry 33 0
1974 Jeff Burroughs 33 Jeff Burroughs 33 0
1973 Reggie Jackson 32 Reggie Jackson 32 0
1972 Dick Allen 40 Dick Allen 40 0
1971 Vida Blue 30 Bobby Murcer 38 8
1970 Boog Powell 31 Ron White 34 3
1969 Harmon Killebrew 34 Reggie Jackson 41 7
1968 Denny McLain 33 Carl Yastrzemski 39 6
1967 Carl Yastrzemski 42 Carl Yastrzemski 42 0
1966 Frank Robinson 41 Frank Robinson 41 0
1965 Zoilo Versalles 32 Tony Oliva 33 1
1964 Brooks Robinson 33 Mickey Mantle 34 1
1963 Elston Howard 28 C.Yastrzemski/T.Tresh 29 1
1962 Mickey Mantle 33 Mickey Mantle 33 0
1961 Roger Maris 36 Mickey Mantle 48 12
1960 Roger Maris 31 Mickey Mantle 36 5
1959 Nellie Fox 30 N.Fox/M.Mantle 30 0
1958 Jackie Jensen 27 Mickey Mantle 39 12
1957 Mickey Mantle 51 Mickey Mantle 51 0
1956 Mickey Mantle 49 Mickey Mantle 49 0
1955 Yogi Berra 24 Mickey Mantle 41 17
1954 Yogi Berra 34 Mickey Mantle 36 2
1953 Al Rosen 42 Al Rosen 42 0
1952 Bobby Shantz 33 Larry Doby 34 1
1951 Yogi Berra 31 Ted Williams 34 3
1950 Phil Rizzuto 35 Phil Rizzuto 35 0
1949 Ted Williams 40 Ted Williams 40 0
1948 Lou Boudreau 34 Ted Williams 39 5
1947 Joe Dimaggio 30 Ted Williams 44 14
1946 Ted Williams 49 Ted Williams 49 0
1945 Hal Newhouser 38 Hal Newhouser 38 0
1944 Hal Newhouser 35 Dizzy Trout 42 7
1943 Spud Chandler 29 Charlie Keller 36 7
1942 Joe Gordon 31 Ted Williams 46 15
1941 Joe DiMaggio 41 Ted Williams 42 1
1940 Hank Greenberg 31 Bob Feller 34 3
1939 Joe DiMaggio 34 Joe DiMaggio 34 0
1938 Jimmie Foxx 34 J.Foxx/H.Greenberg 34 0
1937 Charlie Gehringer 30 Joe DiMaggio 39 9
1936 Lou Gehrig 38 Lou Gehrig 38 0
1935 Hank Greenberg 34 Wes Ferrell 35 1
1934 Mickey Cochrane 23 Lou Gehrig 41 18
1933 Jimmie Foxx 41 Jimmie Foxx 41 0
1932 Jimmie Foxx 40 Jimmie Foxx 40 0
1931 Lefty Grove 42 Lefty Grove 42 0


National League
Year Voted MVP WS WS MVP WS Dif
2016 Kris Bryant 32 Joey Votto 33 1
2015 Bryce Harper 38 Bryce Harper 38 0
2014 Clayton Kershaw 22 Andrew McCutchen 33 11
2013 Andrew McCutchen 34 Paul Goldschmidt 36 2
2012 Buster Posey 38 Andrew McCutchen 40 2
2011 Ryan Braun 37 R.Braun/M.Kemp 37 0
2010 Joey Votto 33 Adrian Gonzalez 35 2
2009 Albert Pujols 39 Albert Pujols 39 0
2008 Albert Pujols 34 Lance Berkman 36 2
2007 Jimmy Rollins 28 David Wright 34 6
2006 Ryan Howard 29 Albert Pujols 37 8
2005 Albert Pujols 34 A.Pujols/D.Lee 34 0
2004 Barry Bonds 48 Barry Bonds 48 0
2003 Barry Bonds 38 Albert Pujols 41 3
2002 Barry Bonds 49 Barry Bonds 49 0
2001 Barry Bonds 54 Barry Bonds 54 0
2000 Jeff Kent 37 Jeff Kent 37 0
1999 Chipper Jones 32 Jeff Bagwell 37 5
1998 Sammy Sosa 35 Mark McGwire 41 6
1997 Larry Walker 32 T.Gwynn/M.Piazza 39 7
1996 Ken Caminitti 38 Jeff Bagwell 41 3
1995 Barry Larkin 30 Barry Bonds 36 6
1994 Jeff Bagwell 30 Jeff Bagwell 30 0
1993 Barry Bonds 47 Barry Bonds 47 0
1992 Barry Bonds 41 Barry Bonds 41 0
1991 Terry Pendleton 27 Barry Bonds 37 10
1990 Barry Bonds 37 Barry Bonds 37 0
1989 Kevin Mitchell 38 Will Clark 44 6
1988 Kirk Gibson 31 Will Clark 37 6
1987 Andre Dawson 20 Tim Raines 34 14
1986 Mike Schmidt 31 Tim Raines 32 1
1985 Willie McGee 36 W.McGee/T.Raines 36 0
1984 Ryne Sandberg 38 Ryne Sandberg 38 0
1983 Dale Murphy 32 Mike Schmidt 35 3
1982 Dale Murphy 32 Mike Schmidt 37 5
1981 Mike Schmidt 30 Mike Schmidt 30 0
1980 Mike Schmidt 37 Mike Schmidt 37 0
1979 K.Hernandez/W.Stargell 29 M.Schmidt/D.Winfield 33 4
1978 Dave Parker 37 Dave Parker 37 0
1977 George Foster 32 M.Schmidt/D.Parker 33 1
1976 Joe Morgan 37 Joe Morgan 37 0
1975 Joe Morgan 44 Joe Morgan 44 0
1974 Steve Garvey 27 Mike Schmidt 39 12
1973 Pete Rose 34 Joe Morgan 40 6
1972 Johnny Bench 37 Steve Carlton 40 3
1971 Joe Torre 41 Joe Torre 41 0
1970 Johnny Bench 34 Johnny Bench 34 0
1969 Willie McCovey 39 Willie McCovey 39 0
1968 Bob Gibson 36 Bob Gibson 36 0
1967 Orlando Cepeda 34 Roberto Clemente 35 1
1966 Roberto Clemente 29 Willie Mays 37 8
1965 Willie Mays 43 Willie Mays 43 0
1964 Ken Boyer 28 Dick Allen 41 13
1963 Sandy Koufax 32 Hank Aaron 41 9
1962 Maury Wills 32 W.Mays/F.Robinson 41 9
1961 Frank Robinson 34 Hank Aaron 35 1
1960 Dick Groat 25 W.Mays/E.Mathews 38 13
1959 Ernie Banks 33 Hank Aaron 38 5
1958 Ernie Banks 31 Willie Mays 40 9
1957 Hank Aaron 35 Hank Aaron 35 0
1956 Don Newcombe 27 Duke Snider 34 7
1955 Roy Campanella 28 Willie Mays 40 12
1954 Willie Mays 40 Willie Mays 40 0
1953 Roy Campanella 33 Eddie Mathews 39 6
1952 Hank Sauer 28 Stan Musial 37 9
1951 Roy Campanella 33 Stan Musial 39 6
1950 Jim Konstanty 23 Stan Musial 32 9
1949 Jackie Robinson 36 Stan Musial 40 4
1948 Stan Musial 46 Stan Musial 46 0
1947 Bob Elliott 29 W.Spahn/J.Mize 32 3
1946 Stan Musial 44 Stan Musial 44 0
1945 Phil Cavarretta 30 Stan Hack 34 4
1944 Marty Marion 20 Stan Musial 38 18
1943 Stan Musial 39 Stan Musial 39 0
1942 Mort Cooper 29 Enos Slaughter 37 8
1941 Dolph Camilli 29 Phil Reiser 34 5
1940 Frank McCormick 27 Johnny Mize 33 6
1939 Bucky Walters 38 Bucky Walters 38 0
1938 Ernie Lombardi 24 Arky Vaughan 34 10
1937 Joe Medwick 40 Joe Medwick 40 0
1936 Carl Hubbell 37 Carl Hubbell 37 0
1935 Gabby Hartnett 26 Arky Vaughan 39 13
1934 Dizzy Dean 37 Mel Ott 38 1
1933 Carl Hubbell 33 Arky Vaughan 34 1
1932 Chuck Klein 31 M.Ott/L.O’Doul 33 2
1931 Frankie Frisch 21 Wally Berger 31 10