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Thread: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

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    Debate continues nearly every year about what the “Most Valuable Player” award in baseball means. Does it mean the best player in the league? Does it mean the best player on the best team? Does it mean the best player out of all of the playoff teams? Does it mean a guy whose team just missed the playoffs, but couldn’t have done anything about it? Does it mean the player who got a few key hits when its team was making a run for the playoffs?

    It seems to change every year, but most years, the voters end up getting it right. Sometimes, however, they get it completely wrong; but in their defense, baseball is probably the hardest sport to pick an MVP since pitchers and hitters can’t control one another (unless they are voting on little league MVPs when the best players usually do both, but that’s a different Top 7).

    When they do get it wrong, it’s out of an infatuation with a certain player, a player’s story or their inflated worth to their team, or sometimes just for a completely bizarre reason. You will also notice that a lot of talk exists about Alex Rodriguez, Albert Belle, and Barry Bonds in these entries. Although I’m no fan of any of those guys, there is no denying that if they were not constant guys to rip on, they’d have some additional trophies (or in Belle’s case, one trophy). That leads us to this week’s Top 7.

    7. Sammy Sosa, 1998

    Personally, I will argue this one with Cub fans until I die. Yes, Sosa’s team won the Wild Card, and it was a huge story. But the Cardinals finished five games behind them, and it sure as hell wasn’t McGwire’s fault that Jeff Brantley was the Cardinals closer, their bullpen blew an extraordinary amount of games, and their starters were not very good either. I won’t even bother with all of the stats that clearly favor McGwire just because this argument can never be won.

    6. Andre Dawson, 1987

    You may think that this is included because Dawson’s Cubs were the last place team that year. Not the case—there isn’t anything wrong with a player winning MVP if his team sucks, as long as he is easily the best player in the league that year, which Dawson was not. It was similar to last year’s MVP “debate,” when some thought that Andruw Jones was MVP of the league only because of his HR and RBI totals. In on-base plus slugging, Dawson was 10th in the league. There were other guys who played for winning teams with better years, and other guys on non-winning teams with much better years, including Dale Murphy, Jack Clark, Will Clark, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Raines, Eric Davis, and Tony Gwynn.

    5. Terry Pendleton, 1991

    It’s amazing to think back to 1991—almost everyone in the country was rooting for the Braves to win their division and the NLCS because they were known as that horrible, horrible team that played on cable. Due to the turnaround and its coverage, someone on their team had to be recognized as MVP, and that was Pendleton. Bonds had more homers (25 to 22), RBI (116 to 86), and stolen bases (43 to 10), and his team even had four more wins if that’s your thing. He also won the Gold Glove in left field. This was a classic “best story wins the MVP” year.

    4. Ichiro, 2001

    Everyone in the media had a man crush on Ichiro in the 2001 season, but this was ridiculous. Yes, Ichiro had a better AVG (.350 to .342), more runs (127 to 109), and way more stolen bases (56 to 2) than the guy that should have won, Jason Giambi. But Giambi annihilated Ichiro in doubles (47 to 34), home runs (38 to 8), RBI (120 to 69), OB% (.477 to .381), and SLG% (.477 to .388). The playoffs thing wasn’t even an excuse—the A’s made the Wild Card that year. It was simply that Ichiro was the better story, and Giambi had won the previous year’s award.

    3. Barry Larkin, 1995

    Larkin did have a great year in ’95 as the Reds made the playoffs, hitting .319 with 15 homers and 51 stolen bases in the strike-shortened year. It was just that there were other guys more worthy--this one was more of a lifetime achievement award and a pat-on-the-back for being a “good clubhouse guy” and friendly with the media. One is Mike Piazza, who hit .346 with 32 homers and 93 RBI and the Dodgers also made the playoffs. Barry Bonds that season had to suffer with some of the worst pitching in the league, or he probably would have won the MVP easily this year—he played in all 144 games, had the highest OPS in the league (barely edging Piazza), stole 31 bases, but still finished an astonishing 12th in MVP voting.

    2. Miguel Tejada, 2002

    This was the year that the A’s had the 20-game winning streak, and Tejada had game-winning hits in the 18th and 19th games of that streak. That is why he won the MVP—he had huge hits in games that had tons of attention. Never mind that Alex Rodriguez played the same position and destroyed Tejada in nearly every single category. This is the year that the “he played on a bad team” argument came into play, which became such a stupid argument the next year that it’s mind-boggling. In 2003, A-Rod was MVP of the AL, still on a last-place team, and he had a worse year than he had in 2002. How did the rules change in one year? Is it A-Rod’s fault that the Rangers had guys throwing underhanded on the mound? Does anyone in their right mind think that the A’s would not have made the playoffs in 2002 with Rodriguez and not Tejada at shortstop? This one truly makes no sense because of what happened later.

    1. Mo Vaughn, 1995

    Albert Belle was the MVP. Both teams made the playoffs, with the Indians winning 14 more games. Belle led in runs (121 to 98), doubles (52 to 28), homers (50 to 39), average (19 points), on-base (13 points), slugging (115 points), and they were tied in RBI. There is not one single legitimate argument as to why Belle did not win over Vaughn except for the fact that Belle was completely insane.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    Awards like MVP, Cy Young, Gold Gloves, and Hall of Fame elections are where rationality gets thrown out the window in favor of sentimentality. Anything based on voting simply becomes a popularity contest. That said, I really don't have a problem with saying things like Larkin was the most valuable player in 1995 or that Andre Dawson was the MVP in 1987. After all, it's just opinion.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    Geez...how many MVPs should Bonds have won?

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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    Make the list 21 years and you can add Willie Magee to that list in 1985.

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    oops didn't see it was 20 years.
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    He sure could hit HalMorrisRules's Avatar
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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    This writer obviously is in the "MVP= Best Player" camp. I belong to the "MVP=Most Valuable Player to their Team" camp. Was Larkin the best player in 1995? That is a point worthy of some debate. Was Larkin the most valuable player to their team that year? Absolutely. Bonds' Giants finished 10 games under .500 in last place in 1995 while Larkin's Reds finished in 1st place, 9 games in front. Since 1995, Jeter and ARod have changed people's perception about what can be expected from a shortstop and I feel this writer is choosing to look back at Barry's numbers through a Jeter/Arod prism. Larkin's contributions, and probably more importantly, his leadership were noticed by everyone which is what made him the MVP.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    Bonds' Giants finished 10 games under .500 in last place in 1995 while Larkin's Reds finished in 1st place, 9 games in front.
    The converse argument is that one player doesn't have that much control over how the rest of his team plays. The Reds were a much better all-around team in 1995 than the Giants. Ron Gant and Reggie Sanders carried a lot of the offensive load, with Schourek and Smiley anchoring the best rotation the Reds have had in a decade. The Giants had Bonds and an ugly pitching staff.

    Like I said, I'm all for Larkin being the 1995 MVP based on opinion. But objective facts don't support it.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    The converse argument is that one player doesn't have that much control over how the rest of his team plays. The Reds were a much better all-around team in 1995 than the Giants. Ron Gant and Reggie Sanders carried a lot of the offensive load, with Schourek and Smiley anchoring the best rotation the Reds have had in a decade. The Giants had Bonds and an ugly pitching staff.

    Like I said, I'm all for Larkin being the 1995 MVP based on opinion. But objective facts don't support it.
    I agree. Larkin probably should have won the award in 1996. A much better offensive year for him, and one that ushered in the new era of hitting SS.
    Suck it up cupcake.

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    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Top 7 Worst MVP Votes of the Last 20 Years

    It's not the MVP, but I still don't see how there's an argument for Roger Clemens finishing anything other than first in the '05 Cy Young balloting.

    He threw over 200 innings, and even with his rough stretch from mid-August through mid-September, he still finished with a sub 2.00 ERA (1.87), almost a full run less than Carpenter.

    In 3 straight starts in April, he went 7.0 IP, gave up 0 runs, and took 3 No Decisions.

    (As a sign of just how anemic that Astros offense was - they lost all 3 games 1-0).

    3 other times, he went 7 IP, gave up 1 run, and took No Decisions. Add in 2 more starts of 7 IP, 2 runs, 2 NDs, and an 8 IP, 0 R ND start, and those are a whole lot of starts that very easily could have been wins. He also had a pair of 8 IP, 2 R starts where he was tagged with losses.

    That's 11 starts where he went 80 IP and gave up 11 runs (that's a 1.24 ERA, assuming all of the runs were earned) and he went a combined 0-2 because his offense was less potent than an offense of 9 Redszone posters drawn at random would have been.

    Carpenter and Willis both had fine seasons.

    But Clemens shoulda won the award in '05.


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