We were discussing Willie Mays the other day, and in looking at his stats, I realized that Willie got jobbed on a regular basis in the MVP voting, which led me to search for the all time hose jobs at the hands of the BBWAA. To start, I'm going to use B-R exclusively, so if FG or somewhere else has some slightly conflicting numbers, sorry. I'll be using WAR heavily in this post. There wasn't really any rhyme or reason to who I picked, I just looked for obviously great seasons that weren't rewarded. I'm sure I've missed some, so feel free to add others in the comments.
So what does .363/.465/.706 and the AL Triple Crown get you in the 1934 MVP race? If you'd have said fifth place, you'd be dead on. The Iron Horse put up one of baseballs great seasons, generating 10.7 WAR during his triple crown campaign. The stat line to stop this galloping horse's run for the MVP? .320/.465/.412 and 4.3 WAR by Detroit's Mickey Cochrane.
Here's your MVP Lou.
Arky was a SS/3B for Pittsburgh from '32 - '41, and finished his career with the Dodgers. In 1935, he generated 9.1 WAR and OPS'd 1.098. His .385/.491/.607 led all NL MVP vote getters in '35, yet he finished third in the MVP race, behind Dizzy Dean (who had a damn fine year himself with 28 wins, 7.6 WAR, 3.04 ERA over 325 innings) and the winner Gabby Hartnett.
This becomes a pretty clear case of voting for a guy on the winning team, which I'm sure is going to be a theme in this Fan Post. Gabby put up a line of .344/.404/.545 and 5.2 WAR, which is respectable but doesn't hold up to poor Arky.
Arky, here's your MVP.
To finish up 1935, Hank Greenberg was as deserving of the AL MVP as anyone, but how does Lou Gehrig finish fifth with 9.2 WAR and a 1.049 OPS?
1940 saw one of the best seasons in Cardinals history. Mize hit 43 dingers while compiling a .314/.404/.636 slash line. His 43 homers were the most in Cardinal history until 1998 and a certain Big Mac fellow showed up in St. Louis. The Big Cat lost out to Frank McCormick of the Reds, and his .309/.367/.482 .850 OPS. The Reds moved on to the Series that year, the Cards did not.
Here's your trophy Mr. Mize
In 1941, Ted Williams produced 11.3 WAR and a 1.287 OPS, finishing second to Joe DiMaggio in the MVP race. He followed that up in 1942 by winning the AL Triple Crown accumulating 11.0 WAR and .356/.499/.648 along the way. The Splendid Splinter finished second to Joe Gordon (.322/.409/.491 .900 8.4 WAR) and his Series bound Yankees.
Ted got the ole in 'n out again in 1947, losing out to DiMaggio while putting up 10.3 to Joe D's 5.6 WAR.
The only reason that I can come up with for Stan not winning the MVP in 1944 is that he asked the writers to give it to his good friend, Marty Marion. Marion posted .267/.324/.362 and 4.0 WAR, very respectable for a slap hitting SS in any year. However, Stan really took it in the shorts. Musial led the league in OBP and SLG, was second in the BA race, led the league in hits (197), doubles (51), and OPS+ (175.) His .347/.440/.549 was good for 9.1 WAR and fourth place in the 1944 MVP race, behind Marion, Bill Nicholson (6.5), and Dixie Walker (6.0).
Have another, Mr. Musial.
The 1955 AL and NL MVP's went to Yogi Berra (.272/.349/.470 3.8WAR) and Roy Campanella (.318/.395/.583 5.5 WAR.)This is where the playoff argument goes to hell. Mick and Yogi were obviously teammates, but his 9.5 WAR and .306/.431/.611 couldn't hold a flame to Yogi's great year. Mick took it in the shorts again in 1958.
As for Duke, he had a great year as well, .309/.418/.628 and 8.9 WAR, but once again he couldn't overcome his teammate, Roy Campanella, .318/.395/.583 5.5 WAR. 1955 was the year of the catcher, it seems.
This is really where I became interested in this subject. An argument can be made that the "Say Hey Kid" should have won the MVP from 1960 - 1965. Willie lost the award to Dick Groat in 1960 (.325/.371/.394 5.7WAR) Frank Robinson in '61 (.323/.404/.611 7.6WAR,) Maury Wills in '62 (.299/.347/.373 6.1 WAR,) Sandy Koufax in '63 (9.6 WAR, one of the all time greatest pitching seasons,) and our very own Ken Boyer in '64 (.295/.365/.489 5.6WAR.) Here's Willies stats for these 5 years:
|162 Game Avg.||162||676||589||112||178||28||8||36||103||18||6||79||83||.302||.384||.557||.941||155||328||14||2||1|
|SFG (21 yrs)||2857||12012||10477||2011||3187||504||139||646||1859||336||98||1394||1436||.304||.385||.564||.949||157||5907||239||42||9||90||187|
|NYM (2 yrs)||135||481||404||51||96||19||1||14||44||2||5||70||90||.238||.352||.394||.746||112||159||12||2||4||1||5|
|SFG (21 yrs)||12012||807||75||14||-12||187||-13||392||1450||153.0||1263||134.3||18.7||$1,693,200|
|NYM (2 yrs)||481||8||-1||0||-2||-2||-2||14||15||1.7||17||1.9||-0.2||$165,000|
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Willie averaged 10 WAR for these five years, which is simply astonishing. In his particular case, he played against some great players, and I can't fault the Frank Robinson and Sandy Kofax picks, but Willie's numbers were right there with them.
**Edited for egregious omission of Stan Musial.