Since my 1991 Mariners entry was flushed and I doubt I’ll try to type it again anytime soon so I might as well do 1991 A.L. MVP redo which does feature a Mariner player being underrated by the voters. But the main reason this particular MVP was interesting is that it’s one of those cases with where player on a losing team won the award. Now in the 1987 N.L. MVP redo Andre Dawson was shown to be one of the worst choices ever, nevermind that he played on a last place team. For the 2003 A.L. MVP redo A-Rod was shown to be perfectly acceptable choice for the award but just not my choice.
In 1991 Cal Ripken had the best year offensively of his career and won the MVP by somewhat of a close margin over Cecil Fielder despite playing on a Orioles team that lost 95 games, the next to worst record in the league. What likely helped Ripken win the award was that the two division winners, Minnesota and Toronto, lacked a standout candidate. Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar both received first place votes but neither cracked the top 4 and really neither should have received a first place vote. Kirby Puckett was the only Twins player in the Top 10 and did not receive a first place vote. The rest of the A.L. after that was highly competitive as nine teams won between 81 and 87 games that season.
Looking at the basic, writer friendly numbers my guess as to why Ripken won the award over the likes of Fielder and Jose Canseco was due to both Fielder and Canseco having batting averages in the .260’s so they gave the nod to Ripken even though those two both topped Ripken in homeruns and RBI. It’s a good thing that the writers did vote Ripken over Fielder as he would have been a terrible choice and the classic case of writers giving the award to a player simply because he lead the league in RBI, which nine voters used that line of thinking and chose Fielder as their MVP. Despite his prodigious counting stats Fielder only finished 9th in the league in slugging and that was while playing in a hitter’s park. Per Win Shares and VORP, Mickey Tettleton was the best player on the Tigers that year but he didn’t receive a single vote. Sandwiched between Fielder and Canseco was the White Sox young slugger Frank Thomas who was in his first full season. Thomas led the league in OBP and OPS but managed just one first place vote. The most surprising snub in the voting was Ken Griffey Jr. who already had emerged as one of the best and most popular players in baseball while helping the Mariners to their first ever winning record yet he only placed 9th. My only guess is he got penalized for not being a power hitter at that point as he hit only 22 homeruns but did hit 42 doubles.
1) Cal Ripken 2) Cecil Fielder 3) Frank Thomas 4) Jose Canseco 5) Joe Carter 6) Roberto Alomar 7) Kirby Puckett 8) Ruben Sierra 9) Ken Griffey Jr. 10) Roger Clemens 11) Pal Molitor 12) Danny Tartabull 13) Jack Morris 14) Chili Davis 15) Julio Franco 16) Devon White 17) Scott Erickson 18) Rick Aguilera 19) Rafael Palmeiro 20) Robin Ventura 21) Dave Henderson
.307/.357/.502, 120 RC, 138 OPS+, .316 EQA, 52.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.322/.389/.532, 130 RC, 155 OPS+, .333 EQA, 69.5 VORP, 26 Win Shares
164 ERA+, 3.71 K/BB, 1.05 WHIP, 74.8 VORP, 26 Win Shares
.341/.408/.474, 113 RC, 146 OPS+, .332 EQA, 70.1 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.316/.397/.593, 114 RC, 171 OPS+, .346 EQA, 62.8 VORP, 28 Win Shares
.325/.399/.489, 128 RC, 147 OPS+, .328 EQA, 64.7 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.266/.359/.556, 113 RC, 157 OPS+, .333 EQA, 59.0 VORP, 31 Win Shares
.327/.399/.527, 117 RC, 155 OPS+, .334 EQA, 68.2 VORP, 30 Win Shares
.323/.374/.566, 138 RC, 162 OPS+, .337 EQA, 94.8 VORP, 34 Win Shares
.318/.453/.553, 140 RC, 180 OPS+, .365 EQA, 81.9 VORP, 34 Win Shares
This was like the 2003 A.L. MVP as neither of the Top 2 is a wrong pick and when you have two evenly matched candidates like this I do give the nod to the player who played on a winning team. I also gave Thomas the 1992 A.L. MVP and he won the ’93 & ’94 awards in real life. I haven’t put the numbers in for those two years but I think I’ll have to look into that and see if the Big Hurt should have had four straight MVP awards. This was a tough ballot to put together as I changed 3 thru 9 a few times and even looking at it now I’m not entirely settled on it.