Baseball’s Most Controversial MVP Winners

In the wake of Cardinals’ first basemen Albert Pujols winning the NL MVP Award despite his team finishing fourth in the NL Central, has ranked baseball’s most controversial MVP winners of all-time.

Dennis Eckersley#3 Dennis Eckersley, 1992, AL MVP
Eckersley, the prototype one-inning closer, pitched 80 innings on the year. Frank Thomas, with a .978 OPS, played 1424 innings for the White Sox that season. Did Eckersley contribute more to his team in those 80 innings than Thomas did in nearly 18 times as many? Or Kirby Puckett, league leader in hits and total bases and a Gold Glove centerfielder? Or teammate Mark McGwire, who had 42 homers and 104 RBIs with an OPS of .970 and won a Gold Glove as well? Closers are valuable – just ask Mets fans – but they’re disproportionately rewarded for how little they actually work.

#1 Joe DiMaggio, 1947 AL MVP
While DiMaggio’s victory over Ted Williams in 1941 is defensible, this one is not.

How do you win the league Triple Crown without also being the MVP? Were DiMaggio’s intangible contributions so much greater than Ted’s superior performance in batting, slugging, on-base, hits, doubles, home runs, runs, and RBIs?

Williams finished one single point behind DiMaggio in the voting, and one sportswriter refused even to list Williams on his ten-man ballot (though it was not a Boston sportswriter, as Williams charged in his autobiography My Turn At Bat; the man Williams named did not vote that year). Stranger still, Williams only received three first-place votes (worth 14 points each) out of twenty-four, while DiMaggio received eight, no doubt reflecting New York’s pennant-winning season and Boston’s lackluster one. Strangest of all are the two first-place votes cast for Philadelphia Athletics shortstop Eddie Joost, a good glove man who batted .206 for the season.

Boston fans probably believe that Hank Steinbrenner was in on the 1947 AL MVP scandal considering they think he runs hell itself.

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