Here it is, folks, the
much-anticipated waste of bandwidth that is the second half of our thought experiment about WAR and MVP voting. To see the first installment, go here. Just as a quick refresher, the requirements are a WAR greater than 8 and a 4th place or lower finish in the MVP award voting. Like last time, these aren't all the players who fit the bill, just the most egregious examples / biggest names.
- Carl Yastrzemski - 1970, 9.1 WAR, 4th place
- Joe Morgan - 1972, 10 WAR, 4th place
- Mike Schmidt - 1985, 8.5, 10th place
- Rickey Henderson - 1980, 8.6 WAR, 10th place
- Cal Ripken - 1984, 9.2 WAR, 27th (!) place
- Tony Gwynn - 1987, 8.1 WAR, 8th place
- Wade Boggs - 1987, 9.1 WAR, 9th place
- Chuck Knoblauch - 1996, 8.8 WAR, 16th place
- Ken Griffey - 1996, 9.7 WAR, 4th place
- Barry Bonds - 1998, 9.3 WAR, 8th place
- John Olerud - 1998, 8.1 WAR, 12th place
- Derek Jeter (swoons) - 1999, 8.0 WAR, 6th place
- Alex Rodriguez - 2001, 8.0 WAR, 6th place
- OL JIM JAM - 2002, 8.1 WAR, 7th place
- Ichiro - 2004, 8.1 WAR, 7th place
- Carlos Beltran - 2006, 8.0 WAR, 4th place
- Albert Pujols - 2007, 8.3 WAR, 9th place
Joe Morgan, as annoying and curmudgeonly as he is in the booth, was really, really good at this stick and ball game. I only listed him once above, but for a span of five years he was one of the "best" spokesmen for lack of respect from the voters. His snubbing in 1972 was the worst of the lot, but Morgan also finished 4th in '73 with a WAR of 9.3 and then eighth the following year with a 9.1 WAR. Yikes. However, all good things are eventually recognized, and Morgan would go on to win back-to-back MVP honors in '75 and '76 with WAR numbers of 12.0 (!) and 10.0 respectively. I would ask Morgan how he felt about these years of his career, but he'd probably start foaming at the mouth and accuse me of writing Moneyball.
Holy Cal Ripken, Batman! One of the most beloved players in the history of the game received the worst snub I could find. That 27th place finish was dead last that year, but to make matters worse for the Iron Man, he finished a whole twenty three slots behind teammate Eddie Murray despite the fact that they both put up similar offensive numbers, and Murray's WAR (6.8) was well below Cal's. Who knows, maybe Murray got extra credit for that awesome facial hair. For those of us who draw wood at good defense (and Cal was positively off the chain that year, boasting a ridiculous 23.4 fielding runs above average!), this snubbing was nothing short of a disaster of epic proportions. Oh, and there's also the tiny detail that the honors ultimately went to a freaking relief pitcher!
Just a few more quick thoughts. I'm sure Ichiro would be upset about 2004 if he could, you know, actually emote. The Pujols incident did nothing to lessen my dislike of Jimmy Rollins. Carlos Beltran is probably better than we all know. Sometimes actresses get slapped, and sometimes Chuck Knoblauch will finish too far down an MVP ballot. So it goes. In closing though, here's one thing to think about: the average WAR for "notable" non-winners of the type mentioned above prior to 1970 was 8.2. After 1970 this number declined, ever so slightly, to 8.0. Why do you think that is? More global cognizance of the entire baseball world that goes hand-in-hand with the advent of advanced metrics? Can this be viewed as progress for the nerds? Speak your minds in the comments.
These two posts would not have been possible were it not for the help of the commenters who provided suggestions on the post that started this all. And a very special thank you to Larry over at Wezen Ball who not only pointed out the Ripken example to me, but provided a very extensive list of players that made this a lot easier. Without his hard work, this definitely wouldn't have happened. Thanks again, I hope you enjoyed reading!
Awesome image of Ripken and Murray pilfered from the SI Vault.