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:
- I wanted a better list than the one I hastily put together, and
- 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:
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:
|Cal Ripken Jr.||2||69||34.5|
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:
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1962||Mickey Mantle||33||Mickey Mantle||33||0|
|1961||Roger Maris||36||Mickey Mantle||48||12|
|1960||Roger Maris||31||Mickey Mantle||36||5|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1978||Dave Parker||37||Dave Parker||37||0|
|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|
|1961||Frank Robinson||34||Hank Aaron||35||1|
|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|
|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|
|1931||Frankie Frisch||21||Wally Berger||31||10|