History tells us voters find 'value' in victories
Trend of MVP Award winners coming from playoff teams is only growing
The debate resumed this year.
Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera claimed the American League MVP Award for the second year in a row, much to the chagrin of the new-age statistical devotees who felt Angels outfielder Mike Trout was robbed for the second year in a row.
The debate centers on the term "valuable," and whether a player on a postseason team, such as Cabrera, is more "valuable" than a player whose team does not advance, such as Trout.
Technically, the answer is "no."
The rules sent out with the ballot to the two Baseball Writers' Association of America members in each city who vote for the MVP Award include, "The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier."
Realistically, in the eyes of the voters the answer is usually "yes." And more so, not surprisingly, as the number of postseason teams has increased.
From 1931-68, when the World Series was the only round of the playoffs, 56 of the 78 MVPs appeared in the Fall Classic -- 71.8 percent.
From 1969-93, when the number of postseason entrants increased to four with each league adding a Championship Series, 37 of the 51 MVPs (Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell and St. Louis' Keith Hernandez tied for the NL Award in 1979) came from postseason teams -- 72.5 percent.
And since the Wild Card was added (one in each league initially, starting in 1995, and two in each league for the past two years), 32 of the 38 MVPs were on postseason teams -- 84.2 percent.
Barry Bonds has won a record three NL MVP Awards for teams that did not make it to the postseason -- with the 1993, 2001 and '04 Giants. Ernie Banks took home the NL MVP Award in '58 and '59 while the Cubs posted losing records in each season, making Banks the only player to win the award twice on sub-.500 ballclubs.
And in five seasons, the AL and NL MVP Awards both came from teams that did not advance to the post-season: Dave Parker of the Pirates and Jim Rice of the Red Sox in 1978; Banks with the Cubs and Jackie Jensen of the Red Sox in '58; Hank Sauer of the Cubs and Bobby Shantz of the A's in '52; Ernie Lombardi of the Reds and Jimmie Foxx of the Red Sox in '38, and Chuck Klein of the Phillies and Foxx of the A's in '32.
There have been movements over the years to take the MVP vote away from the BBWAA. That won't happen, though. Why? Because as opposed to the Hall of Fame, where the BBWAA membership is invited to be the voting bloc, the MVP award actually belongs to the BBWAA, which even trademarked the term.
While the BBWAA has been criticized for its voting at times, the Major League Baseball Players Association has selected Cabrera as its AL Outstanding Player over Trout the past two years in its vote by the players themselves.
Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw (for a second time) joined Tim Lincecum of the Giants as first-round Draft picks from 2006 to claim Cy Young Awards. There were five other pitchers drafted ahead of Kershaw, who went No. 7 overall to the Dodgers; Lincecum, who went No. 10 to the Giants; and Scherzer, No. 11 to Arizona.
Right-hander Luke Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick that year by Kansas City, followed by Greg Reynolds, No. 2, to Colorado; Brad Lincoln, No. 4 to Pittsburgh; Brandon Morrow, No. 5 to Seattle, and Andrew Miller, No. 6 to Detroit.
BUC-ING THE TREND
The Pirates had both the NL MVP Award winner (Andrew McCutchen ) and Manager of the Year Award Winner (Clint Hurdle), and Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano tied for ninth in the NL Cy Young Award voting. It is only the third time in 20 years that a team has had an MVP Award and Manager of the Year Award winner and a pitcher who received Cy Young Award votes.
Dusty Baker of the Giants won the NL Manager of the Year Award and Jeff Kent won the NL MVP Award in 2000, when Robb Nen finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. Lou Piniella of Seattle was voted the top AL Manager of the Year and Ichiro Suzuki won the AL MVP Award in '01, when Freddy Garcia finished third and Jamie Moyer fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting.
Since the BBWAA added the Manager of the Year Award in 1983, there have been four instances in which a team had the MVP, Cy Young and Manager of the Year Award winners, and just once in the NL: Bobby Cox of Atlanta was voted the top NL manager, Tom Glavine won the NL Cy Young Award and Terry Pendleton was the NL MVP in 1991.
In the AL, Gene Lamont (Manager of the Year), Jack McDowell (Cy Young Award) and Frank Thomas (MVP Award) pulled off the feat with the White Sox in 1993. Tony La Russa (Manager of the Year) and Dennis Eckersley, who won both the Cy Young and MVP Awards, did so in '92. And in '84, Sparky Anderson of Detroit was named the AL Manager of the Year, and Willie Hernandez won the MVP and Cy Young Awards.
• Miami right-hander Jose Fernandez became the first Cuban-born player to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. It's happened twice in the AL -- Tony Oliva in 1964 and Jose Canseco in '86.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.