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:

 

MVP WS WS/MVP
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

 

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