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Let's see so far I've taken away MVPs from Andre Dawson, Willie Hernandez, and Willie Stargell. But now I have to do something truly painful...take away an MVP from a former member of the Oakland A's. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it. In 1992 Dennis Eckersley was the A.L. MVP & Cy Young winner just like Hernandez eight years earlier. Eck was his usual dominante self at that time with a 51 saves, 1.91 ERA, 8.45 K/BB Ratio, and 0.91 WHIP. There was one problem. Eck defined what the closer position has become today and that is one inning and done. In '92 he pitched 80 innings which as it turned out would end up being the most innings he'd ever throw as a closer. But a pitcher throwing 80 innings can't even come close to being truly the most valuable player on his own team let alone entire league. Now I loved Eckersley, he was a great story as a recovering alcoholic, and I fully supported him getting into the Hall of Fame due his unique career line. This is the guy who during a two year span in 1989 and 1990 in 131 innings, he had 128 strikeouts and walked only seven batters...SEVEN! But he was quite possibly one of the worst choices ever for MVP. Now in 1984 redo I said Hernandez wasn't deserving of serious consideration for MVP but that he may cracked the Top 15 and even though he wasn't the best choice for Cy Young, he wasn't a bad choice either. I can not say the same for Eckersley as it'd be quite a while before I'd reach him on a list of the most valuable in 1992 and there were a handful of pitchers who were much more deserving of winning the Cy Young such as Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, and Kevin Appier. As for value to his own team Eckersley was no where near as valuable as Mark McGwire and Rickey Henderson that season. He was very important to the A's winning their 4th division title in five years but you have to play eight innings to get to him and other players have to make bigger impacts for them to come out on top...which you can pretty much say about every closer today. So today I take away the MVP from an Oakland Athletic...but maybe I'll just turn around and give it to another? Maybe it was one of the three Toronto Blue Jays in the Top 10? Or maybe it was someone who received no first place votes? Ya okay you probably figured it out by now. Actual 1992 Results 1) Dennis Eckersley 2) Kirby Puckett 3) Joe Carter 4) Mark McGwire 5) Dave Winfield 6) Roberto Alomar 7) Mike Devereaux 8) Frank Thomas 9) Cecil Fielder 10) Paul Molitor 11) Carlos Baerga 12) Edgar Martinez 13) Jack Morris 14t) Brady Anderson 14t) Roger Clemens 16) Juan Gonzalez 17) Ken Griffey Jr. 18) Pat Listach 19) Jack McDowell 20) George Bell 21t) Mike Bordick 21t) Mike Mussina 23) Albert Belle #10 175 ERA+, 3.35 K/BB, 1.07 WHIP, 64.9 VORP, 26 Win Shares #9 .315/.394/.467, 107 RC, 138 OPS+, .316 EQA, 58.4 VORP, 27 Win Shares #8 .343/.404/.544, 116 RC, 163 OPS+, .344 EQA, 76.4 VORP, 24 Win Shares #7 .290/.377/.491, 108 RC, 137 OPS+, .316 EQA, 54.0 VORP, 27 Win Shares #6 .312/.354/.455, 104 RC, 128 OPS+, .305 EQA, 63.3 VORP, 28 Win Shares #5 .329/.374/.490, 116 RC, 138 OPS+, .315 EQA, 64.1 VORP, 31 Win Shares #4 .320/.389/.461, 110 RC, 140 OPS+, .325 EQA, 67.4 VORP, 28 Win Shares #3 .268/.385/.585, 105 RC, 175 OPS+, .350 EQA, 64.7 VORP, 29 Win Shares #2 .310/.405/.427, 98 RC, 129 OPS+, .322 EQA, 67.9 VORP, 34 Win Shares #1 .323/.439/.536, 136 RC, 174 OPS+, .361 EQA, 89.3 VORP, 33 Win Shares Hey take away an MVP from a former A's player and give it to a current A's player, GENIUS! Thomas did not receive a single first place vote. He and the White Sox were slightly better the year before and he finished 3rd. He only hit 24 homeruns but had 46 doubles so he gets punished for supposed loss of power. Some how Joe Carter received four first place votes despite the great year Alomar had. Okay I know why, the almighty RBI but even he didn't lead the league that year as Cecil Fielder did. George Bell received three voting points with a spectacular line of .255/.294/.418 but Shane Mack didn't receive a single vote.
You know I really did want to avoid doing three straight entries of the same feature but dammit I'm loving doing this and this blog is basically my own playground to geek out on useless information so might as well keep doing what I love. Besides there's only two of you reading this. The 1979 N.L. MVP vote had the most unique result ever: a tie. A TIE!?!? What kind of a crap is that? There's no ties in baseball! I was only one year old at the time but I imagine there must have been riots across the country after this result was announced and if there wasn't there should have been. Fuck the hostage crisis, this was the biggest crisis in America in November 1979. Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell shared the award in '79. Well I don't know if they shared, I'd assume they made two trophies otherwise that'd be a pretty cheap thing for MLB to do. Now what was odd, beyond the tied result, was Hernandez easily beat Stargell in first place votes, 10 to 4. There's no rule for a tiebreak but clearly more voters felt Hernandez was the MVP. In 3rd place was Dave Winfield who received the same number of first place votes as Stargell although due to the Padres poor performance Winfield probably was left off a few ballots all together as he finished 61 points behind the co-winners. So for over 26 years we've been stuck with this tie...until today. I will settle the debate. Get out your magic markers kids and get ready to cross out one of those names. Or will you be crossing out both of them? Actual 1979 results: 1t) Keith Hernandez 1t) Willie Stargell 3) Dave Winfield 4) Larry Parrish 5) Ray Knight 6) Joe Niekro 7) Bruce Sutter 8) Kent Tekulve 9) Dave Concepcion 10) Dave Parker 11) Dave Kingman 12) George Foster 13) Mike Schmidt 14) Steve Garvey 15t) Omar Moreno 15t) Pete Rose 17) Gary Carter 18) Bill Madlock 19) J.R. Richard 20) Phil Niekro 21t) Joe Sambito 21t) Tom Seaver 23) Johnny Bench 24) Andre Dawson 25) Garry Templeton 26) Gary Matthews 27) Dave Collins 28) Bob Horner #10 .314/.331/.458, 102 RC, 113 OPS+, .276 EQA, 63.4 VORP, 25 Win Shares #9 .303/.395.449, 106 RC, 135 OPS+, .306 EQA, 55.7 VORP, 25 Win Shares #8 130 ERA+, 3.19 K/BB, 1.09 WHIP, 68.7 VORP, 23 Win Shares #7 .265/.372/.464, 100 RC, 128 OPS+, .306 EQA, 68.6 VORP, 27 Win Shares #6 .331/.418/.430, 113 RC, 130 OPS+, .304 EQA, 54.7 VORP, 27 Win Shares #5 .307/.357/.551, 107 RC, 146 OPS+, .307 EQA, 59.0 VORP, 28 Win Shares #4 .310/.380/.526, 123 RC, 141 OPS+, .309 EQA, 58.1 VORP, 31 Win Shares #3 .253/.386/.564, 119 RC, 154 OPS+, .317 EQA, 64.1 VORP, 33 Win Shares #2 .308/.395/.558, 131 RC, 165 OPS+, .329 EQA, 68.7 VORP, 33 Win Shares #1 .344/.417/.513, 132 RC, 152 OPS+, .322 EQA, 71.9 VORP, 29 Win Shares There you have it, you can sleep well at night now that Keith Hernandez is the sole winner of the 1979 N.L. MVP. Someone please inform the widow Stargell that we must take away his half of the MVP award. Really Stargell had no business even being considered for the award. As you can see the Pirates best player was Dave Parker, who won the MVP himself the year before but since his numbers weren't as good as the previous year the voters penalized him. Stargell was probably only about the 4th or 5th best player on the team that year. But the reason whey he got so much support was because he was really fucking old and he was the "heart and soul" of the We Are Family Pirates and baseball writers get chubbies thinking of stuff like that.
In kkk's most recent entry on K-Mart customer service he made mention of how he had thought Harold Baines didn't get enough credit as a player. Now Baines best season was probably 1984 when he was still an everyday outfielder. Now he was never a serious MVP cadidate and '84 was no different but the MVP voting that year was quite interesting. For one a closer won it in Willie Hernandez of the Tigers. A closer winning an MVP should always raise a few eyebrows as it's pretty much impossible for them to equal the value of an everyday player. Now Hernandez was far from your one inning and done closers of today. He pitched 140 innings that year which is a ton of innings for someone who didn't make a single start. He was dominating with 112 strikeouts to 36 walks, a 1.92 ERA, and ridiculous 0.94 WHIP. Obviously since he won the MVP, he also won the Cy Young. Now a closer winning a Cy Young is something that probably shouldn't happen too often but can happen and be a legitimate choice. In 1984 there simply wasn't starter with numbers (at least the standard ones) that really jumped out and when a closer has a year like Hernandez did under those circumstances it's not surprising he won the Cy Young. Dave Steib would have been the better choice but of course the writers overlooked him due to only having 16 wins (not his fault). But Hernandez was not a bad choice at all for winning the Cy Young. Now in 1984 the A.L. was a one team league: Detroit Tigers. They started the year 30-5 and basically it was all over after that as the second place Blue Jays finished 15 games back, who had the second best record in the league overall. Really it's hard to blame the writers for wanting to give a Tiger the MVP that year when they were so much better than the competition. But was Hernandez the right Tiger? Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell finished 6th and 9th in the voting repsectively and as I mentioned before a closer can't match the value of a star everyday player like those two. But there was something else that was interesting about the '84 A.L. MVP voting, it was who finished 2nd: Kent Hrbek. The Twins that year finished 81-81 and Hrbek didn't crack the Top 5 of any writer favored offensive categories (AVG, HR, RBI). How could a first baseman on the Twins get more votes than a household name like Eddie Murray and a rising star in the media capital of the world in Don Matttingly who played the same position? You would think Hrbek would get overshadowed. This really puzzled me but when you look at the A.L. West that year in conjuction with the Tigers dominance of the East it starts to make "sense" how the writers voted Hrbek that high. See since the Tigers great start eliminated any chance of a pennant race all the attenion went to the West. Now the race in the West was almost as bad as the race in the N.L. West in 2005. The Royals would win the division at 84-78 with the Twins and Angels tied for second just three games back at .500. Royals would have finished 6th in the East with that record. The West was so bad that the last place Rangers were closer to first than the second place Blue Jays were in the East to Tigers. The Twins were neck and neck with the Royals and Angels going into the final couple of weeks of the season when the MVP voting was going on. The Twins would lose six straight to end the season but it was the added attention that Hrbek received and the lack of a race of the East that nearly propelled him to the MVP. So should have a Tigers position player won the MVP? Should one of the big name first basemen with better numbers than Hrbek have won the award? Or was it someone who received almost no support at all for the award? Now I'll tell you...if your still reading. For reference here is the actual order of finish in '84: 1) Willie Hernandez 2) Kent Hrbek 3) Dan Quissenberry 4) Eddie Murray 5) Don Mattingly 6) Kirk Gibson 7) Tony Armas 8) Dave Winfield 9) Alan Trammell 10) Willie Wilson 11) Dwight Evans 12) Alvin Davis 13t) Harold Baines 13t) Dave Kingman 13t) Jim Rice 16t) Lance Parrish 16t) Willie Upshaw 18) Brian Downing 19t) Steve Balboni 19t) George Bell 19t) Andre Thorton 22t) Buddy Bell 22t) Lloyd Moseby 22t) Dave Steib 25t) Juan Beniquez 25t) Mike Boddicker 27t) Doyle Alexander 27t) Cal Ripken #10 .284/.391/.497, 110 RC, 146 OPS+, .318 EQA, 59.5 VORP, 27 Win Shares #9 .293/.399/.458, 91 RC, 145 OPS+, .327 EQA, 60.6 VORP, 28 Win Shares #8 130 ERA+, 2.25 K/BB, 1.14 WHIP, 74.3 VORP, 25 Win Shares #7 .340/.393/.515, 116 RC, 154 OPS+, .328 EQA, 61.5 VORP, 26 Win Shares #6 .298/.361/.441, 101 RC, 126 OPS+, .302 EQA, 69.1 VORP, 27 Win Shares #5 .295/.388/.532, 130 RC, 147 OPS+, .321 EQA, 63.0 VORP, 29 Win Shares #4 .314/.382/.468, 99 RC, 136 OPS+, .308 EQA, 66.4 VORP, 29 Win Shares #3 .343/.381/.537, 125 RC, 156 OPS+, .328 EQA, 72.7 VORP, 29 Win Shares #2 .306/.410/.509, 123 RC, 156 OPS+, .335 EQA, 75.8 VORP, 33 Win Shares #1 .304/.374/.510, 122 RC, 145 OPS+, .318 EQA, 92.2 VORP, 37 Win Shares OMG SWERVE~! As you see in the actual results, Ripken is the last name listed. He received just a single a 10th place vote. It wasn't like he was some young player no one had heard of yet, he won the the MVP the year before! But what happens to a lot MVP winners who were on the top team in their league, like the Orioles were in '83, and the following year the team isn't as good the perceived value of that MVP drops like a rock. Really him, Murray, Mattingly, Trammell, or the always overlooked Evans would have made fine choices. Hrbek just missed the Top 10 and Hernandez may have cracked the Top 15 if I extended the list that far but neither were deserving as much support as they received. As you'll see I did include a pitcher in Steib and two players in Yount and RICKEY~ who didn't receive a single vote in '84. The legendary Juan Beniquez, who had 382 plate apperances, received more support than Ripken, Yount, and Henderson. That's pretty bad.