Down Ballot Fun From Days Of Yore

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Award season (and the endless debates that go with it) is seemingly all but out of the baseball world's system. We are officially in free agency now. Get your alliterative pants on! However, before you do, let's call on this year's MVP award one last time for a little bit of interactive fun, shall we?

Joe Mauer was the first catcher to win the MVP in quite awhile. You'd have to go back a whole decade to 1999 and Ivan Rodriguez to find another man of his trade being honored with the accolade. Pudge had himself quite the year in 1999: .332 AVG, 35HR, 113RBI, wOBA of .388 and a 6.0 WAR. That's good stuff right there, especially from a position as demanding as catcher.

Why do I bring this up? Well let's take a gander at the balloting for that year. Here is the top 5 in order: 1.) Pudge, 2.) Pedro Martinez, 3.) Roberto Alomar, 4.) Manny Ramirez, 5.) Rafael Palmeiro.

That is quite arguably one of the most loaded Top 5's in MVP voting history. Or the one that has far too many Spanish-Speaking guys, depending on how racist you're feeling. Pedro was so frighteningly good that year, you could argue he belonged in the top spot. But we're not here for Pedro. Rather, we're here to consider the 4th spot, Manny Ramirez. You see, Manny (then on the Indians) had nothing short of a monstrous year himself: .333 AVG, 44HR, 165 RBI, .457 wOBA and an 8.0 WAR.

The point of this post isn't to try and argue that Manny got robbed. Far from it. The vagaries of positional relativism also make this debate impossible (ahem, Pedro). I don't even want to argue that the above order is incorrect, because, in truth, the subjectivity of the award is well-documented, as is the absence of the use of advanced metrics throughout history. Rather, it just blows my mind that Manny Ramirez had the year that he had and finished fourth. An 8.0 WAR player!

This is where you come in, folks. Can you find another player who was that valuable from a WAR standpoint but finished fourth or lower in an MVP race? I would claim, that this phenomenon has never occurred before, but prove me wrong! This fine site offers a WAR index from days of yore, so I would advise you to look there. A word of clarification: The WAR formula they use is slightly different from the one at sites like Fangraphs, so for the sake of consistency, I would limit it to one index or the other, depending on which year you're looking at.

Now go forth and have fun, you little nerds in training!


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10 Comments

Chase Utley 2007 WAR=8.0(fangraphs) 8th
Chase Utley 2008 WAR=8.1(fangraphs) 14th
Chase Utley 2009 WAR=7.6(fangraphs) 8th


Joe Morgan 1972-1974. All above 9 WAR, and 4th or below every year.

I was going to say Utley, but his WAR on Baseballprojection.com is much lower than on Fangraphs.

Yes, Utley was basically the reason I made the disclaimer about sticking with one particular site. If you use the "historical" WAR, he doesn't qualify.

Good finds in either case though.

1998 John Olerud finished 12th despite an 8.1 WAR (source: baseball projection). Damn.

1998 John Olerud finished 12th despite an 8.1 WAR (source: baseball projection). Damn.

Where did Guy Clark finish in 1998?

Howard Johnson in 89 had a 7.7 and finished 5th. Eric Davis finished 9th in 1988 with an 8.0 WAR.

Honus Wagner had a 42 WAR in Eighteen Dickety Six.

Found one!
Tony Gwynn 1987
8.1 WAR via Baseball Projection site
Finished 8th! in the MVP voting.

Based on the WAR listed at the link you provided, it appears Hank Aaron is the poster boy for high WAR/low MVP Rank. Behold:

1960
1. Dick Groat 5.7
2 Don Hoak 5.3
3 Willie Mays 9.7
4 Ernie Banks 8.2
5 Liindy McDaniel 5
6 Ken Boyer 6.2
6 Vern Law 4.5
8 Roberto Clemente 3.3
9 Ernie Broglio 6.6
10 Eddie Matthews 8.0
11. Hank Aaron 8.4

1961
1. Frank Robinson 7.6
2. Orlando Cepeda 6.1
3. Vada Pinson 7.4
4. Roberto Clemente 5.5
5. Joey Jay 4.5
6. Willie Mays 9.4
7. Ken Boyer 7.8
8. Hank Aaron 9.2

1962
1. Maury Wills 6.1
2. Willie Mays 10.6
3. Tommy Davis 6.8
4. Frank Robinson 8.5
5. Don Drysdale 5.7
6. Hank Aaron 9.2

1967
Winner Orlando Cepeda 7.1
2 Tim McCarver 6.0
3. Roberto Clemente 8.2
4. Ron Santo 10.2
5. Hank Aaron 8.2

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