This is one that I’ve been putting off as it seemed too obvious for an entry. No one in there right mind thinks in 1991 that Terry Pendleton was a better player than Barry Bonds except apparently the 12 baseball writers who voted for Pendleton over Bonds. Now Pendleton winning wasn’t on the level of Andre Dawson winning in 1987 and actually after reviewing it there certainly have been several worse choices for MVP in the past.
There’s an easy answer as to why Pendleton won the MVP and that was because the Braves were the feel good story of 1991. The Braves had lost 89 games or more in six consecutive seasons and had lost 97 the year before. But that all changed in ’91 when they made a shocking run at the N.L. West title and Pendleton received a good portion of the credit for their run. After all he wasn’t with the Braves before ‘91 and when he joins the team they suddenly became good so it must have been because of him, or at least that was probably the logic of some writers. Now I don’t want to slam Pendleton, he had a great year and he was the MVP of the Braves that season as he had a career year offensively after appearing to be washed at age 29 just a year earlier with the Cardinals. What would hurt Bonds in the MVP voting was A) he won the MVP the year before and did not have as good a year to follow it up, B) the Pirates ran away with the East title while the Braves were in a dog fight into the final weekend with the Dodgers for the West title so in September all eyes were on Atlanta, and C) he was already the miserable prick we know today and thus not liked by the media. Pendleton and Bonds received 22 of the 24 first place votes with Bonds’ teammate Bobby Bonilla receiving one. Not sure why someone picked Bonilla over Bonds but it did not cost Bonds the award and Bonilla had a great year. The other first place vote though went to Brett Butler who I’m assuming received it from a Dodgers writer. Butler had a good year but far from deserving to win it and he only placed 7th in the overall voting.
Now what eventually convinced me to write an entry on this one had little to do with the winner of the award but one bizarre 10th place vote. Dave Martinez was with the Expos at the time and I don’t think MVP and Dave Martinez have ever been uttered before but yet he showed up one writer’s ballot that year. Martinez played in 124 games, received 427 plate appearances, with his Triple Crow stats at .295 avg, 7 hr, 42 rbi. It got me thinking as to how in the world did a writer justify giving Dave Martinez an MVP vote, even if only a 10th place? The Expos lost 90 games that year so it wasn’t like he had some relevant “clutch” hits down the stretch that would caused a writer to overrate him. The two best players on the Expos in 1991 were his outfield mates Ivan Calderon and Larry Walker so it’s hard to imagine his play was noticed more over those two. Then it donned on me…the writer meant to vote for his teammate Dennis Martinez. El Presidente won the N.L. ERA title and it’s completely conceivable for a writer to have given the league leader in ERA a 10th place vote. I can’t confirm this is what happened but there is no other logical explanation for it.
1) Terry Pendleton 2) Barry Bonds 3) Bobby Bonilla 4) Will Clark 5) Howard Johnson 6) Ron Gant 7) Brett Butler 8) Lee Smith 9) Fred McGriff 10) Darryl Strawberry 11) Tom Glavine 12t) Jay Bell 12t) David Justice 14t) Andre Dawson 14t) John Smiley 16) Tony Gwynn 17t) John Kruk 17t) Barry Larkin 17t) Ryne Sandberg 20t) Dave Martinez 20t) Chris Sabo 20t) Ozzie Smith
.294/.367/.483, 97 RC, 139 OPS+, .311 EQA, 43.9 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.259/.342/.535, 105 RC, 145 OPS+, .308 EQA, 47.2 VORP, 25 Win Shares
153 ERA+, 2.78 K/BB, 1.10 WHIP, 55.5 VORP, 23 Win Shares
.278/.396/.494, 104 RC, 147 OPS+, .322 EQA, 48.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares
.304/.377/.454, 88 RC, 143 OPS+, .315 EQA, 54.2 VORP, 26 Win Shares
.319/.363/.517, 111 RC, 139 OPS+, .308 EQA, 53.6 VORP, 27 Win Shares
.302/.391/.492, 112 RC, 150 OPS+, .323 EQA, 49.9 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.291/.379/.485, 109 RC, 137 OPS+, .310 EQA, 52.5 VORP, 37 Win Shares
.301/.359/.536, 109 RC, 152 OPS+, .321 EQA, 53.2 VORP, 34 Win Shares
.292/.410/.514, 109 RC, 161 OPS+, .337 EQA, 61.6 VORP, 37 Win Shares
See...I put an asterisk. Cause he's a cheater. HAHAHAHA. People who use asterisks to mock Bonds are so clever.
Anyways you to have to admit that's one prophetic card.