Oh, So Close … Again

David Ortiz this year extended a run that is pretty impressive: He has finished in the Top 5 in AL MVP voting for the fifth consecutive year, joining just three others.

  • Lou Gehrig — 7 (1931-36)
  • Yogi Berra — 7 (1950-56)
  • Eddie Murray — 5 (1981-85)
  • David Ortiz — 5 (2003-07)

Ted Williams gets an honorable mention, for having six straight MVPs in the years he played, but four MVPs were awarded between 1941 and 1946, and he didn’t finish in the top five in any of them. Turns out there was something better he had to do.

That list is especially impressive when you consider, 1. The players who aren’t on the list (DiMaggio, Mantle, Killebrew), and 2. How many more teams, and thus how many more players, are in the league now to provide competition for the top five spots. Murray and Ortiz (so far) both have the ignominy of never having won the award despite coming so close so often.

The National League is a different story, thanks to the otherwise weaker lineups and the dominant sluggers they’ve had there recently. Albert Pujols has six straight and could make it seven tomorrow. Barry Bonds had five straight twice (one for the clean era, one for the presumably dirty), and won the award four times in a row, something we’ll probably never see again.

22 comments… add one
  • Keep in mind that eligibility restrictions in the early years of the award almost certainly limit this field beyond what is reasonable.

    YF November 19, 2007, 4:22 pm
  • Is that why babe ruth didnt finish in the top 10 from 1924-1930 despite hitting more HRs than entire teams?
    I was about to complain about anti-NY bias.

    sam-YF November 19, 2007, 4:24 pm
  • Haha, or the fact that the award didn’t exist..

    Paul SF November 19, 2007, 4:25 pm
  • Yes, Sam. One of the initial rules, I believe, was that once you won the award for a first time, you were disqualified everafter. The “mvp” evolved over time, before what passes for the present rules were adopted, i belive in the late 20s early 30s. So players from those eras or prior were subject to different criteria.

    YF November 19, 2007, 4:36 pm
  • For the record, I started researching in 1931, which I belive was the first year the MVP existed more or less in its present form. Even so, I can’t imagine that list would grow much — Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth would pretty well cover most of those missing 30 years, I think.

    Paul SF November 19, 2007, 4:41 pm
  • I doubt that, Paul. Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Rogers Hornsby, and George Sisler spring immediately to mind as candidates. An interesting problem, but no detraction whatsoever from Papi’s accomplishment. If anything, amplifies it.

    YF November 19, 2007, 4:47 pm
  • Check that. If it’s only AL, no Wagner and Hornsby. But what of Tris Speaker? Sam Crawford?
    Fun game.

    YF November 19, 2007, 4:54 pm
  • Speaker and Cobb, for sure. Crawford strikes me as one of those where he’d have a sixth-place in there to muck it up. Of course, with so few teams back then, maybe not…
    I wonder whether Cy Young would get a streak going.

    Paul SF November 19, 2007, 5:00 pm
  • Frankly, is this a horseshoes-and-hand-grenades-close? I mean, out of the last five years, there is one where Ortiz merited the award (as well as ARod might have and did capture), but every other year, are we really talking about valid consideration or just a friendly nod?

    attackgerbil November 20, 2007, 2:39 am
  • I don’t think you get into the top five if you’re just getting a friendly nod, AG. It requires votes from the vast majority of writers, and high-value votes, at that. He’s not getting 10th-place votes because he’s cute and cuddly. He’s getting first-, second-, third-place (and fourth and fifth) votes because he’s consistently been a premier offensive force on a perennially contending team. That places him in a select group in the annals of baseball history, is all.

    Paul SF November 20, 2007, 10:01 am
  • Let me see if I understand your logic:
    When the writer’s don’t vote how you think they should have, you want them to lose their jobs.
    But when they do vote how you’d like, you want their vote to count as marker of a “premier offensive force” among “a select group in the annals of baseball history”.
    So which is it? Are the writer’s good voters or not?
    Me, I think the MVP voting is more shoddy than not and aside from the winner, I don’t place much value in it (as a Sox fan suggested yesterday- was that you?). Lowell over Posada is one example. Papi over Mauer in 2006 (when your team wasn’t contending) is another.
    Worse, if Jeter could finish 6th with a line of:
    .349 .438 .552 (leading the *majors* in VORP)
    in 1999, the criteria you’re using (top five finish) is almost meaningless, and certainly not cause for these grand statements.

    Mike YF November 20, 2007, 10:36 am
  • There’s something else with Papi and I’m not sure I know what it is either, because it’s not simply the offense and the team winning:
    2003: Manny is 6th (37 HR .325 AVG 1.014 OPS) behind Papi at 5th (31 HR .288 AVG .961 OPS)
    2004: The voters seemed to get it right and with Manny well ahead of Papi, even as their numbers were much closer.
    2005: Again Manny and Papi are very close (.982 OPS/45 HR to 1.001/47 HR) but there’s a huge difference in their vote totals (156 to 307 points).
    2006: Same deal, but with the team out of contention early. Manny gets 6 points (18th) from 35 HR .321 AVG 1.058 OPS while Papi gets 193 points (and 3rd place) from 54 HR .287 AVG 1.049 OPS.
    2007: If anything, Papi should have been higher, at least 3rd, but an argument could be made that he belonged as high as 2nd, especially with how he hit in Sept as the SOx took the division while the Tigers folded.

    Mike YF November 20, 2007, 11:15 am
  • Not to mention the countless benefits Papi gets from hitting in front of Manny. Those numbers would not be quite so good with almost anyone else hitting behind him.

    sam-YF November 20, 2007, 11:21 am
  • I cant believe Manny didnt win in 1999 with 165 RBI. One of the best offensive seasons of all time for a first place team. He didnt even finish second and he was TIED for 3rd with Roberto Alomar!

    sam-YF November 20, 2007, 11:24 am
  • Big Papi seemed to do quite well without Manny in the line-up at the end of the season.

    Nick-YF November 20, 2007, 11:25 am
  • Jeter should have won in 1999!
    or Pedro. Maybe Nomar or Bernie.

    Nick-YF November 20, 2007, 11:27 am
  • How about Pudge winning in 1999 over, Pedro, Jeter, Nomar, and Manny, with a .335 AVG .914 OPS and 35 HR’s.
    Meanwhile, Jorge couldn’t crack the top 5 this year with a .338 AVG .969 OPS and 20 HR.
    Or Mauer couldn’t crack the top 5 last year with a .347 AVG .936 OPS and 13 HR.

    Mike YF November 20, 2007, 12:21 pm
  • Wow, so bitter and unjustifiably angry. You’d think I’d said something bad about Derek Jeter or something!
    In specific cases, writers have made catastrophically bad decisions, but generally speaking, as a group, the players at the top of the MVP voting are going to be the top players in the league. In odd years (like 1999) where you have so many amazing seasons at once, it gets a little tougher to determine.
    Oh, but that’s right. Because Manny hit behind Papi for three of the five seasons in question, Papi’s stats and accomplishments don’t count…

    Paul SF November 20, 2007, 2:27 pm
  • “Wow, so bitter and unjustifiably angry.”
    What’s your problem, man? No one said anything the least bit along these lines.
    “In specific cases, writers have made catastrophically bad decisions, but generally speaking, as a group, the players at the top of the MVP voting are going to be the top players in the league.”
    I disagree pretty strongly to that statement. The MVP voting is all over the map without logic or consistency. There is absolutely no way Pudge could be the MVP one year and then Mauer and Posada can’t even crack the top five. There’s no rational way Papi shouldn’t be right with Manny 2003-2006. So if Papi isn’t ahead based on offense or winning, you tell me, what is it?
    Worse, the meaning of “valuable” has changed through the years. It used to be that defense was a premium (see Pesky and Rizzuto). Then it became a mix of defense and offense in the 60’s and 70’s. Now defense is largely irrelevant (see Papi) and it’s homeruns and RBI’s with AVG.

    Mike YF November 20, 2007, 2:50 pm
  • Paul
    My point about Oritz hitting in front of Manny wasnt to suggest that his stats dont count or anything along those lines. I just thought that it was a valid point when comparing the voting of the two players in the same years. I think its hard to argue that Ortiz hitting ahead of Manny doesnt help him and im sure if the roles were reversed (ie ortiz protecting manny), Manny would see a bump in his stats. Both are amazing hitters who rightfully scare the crap out of the opposing pitchers.
    To be honest the only anger and bitterness i see in this thread is from you. Why so jumpy?

    sam-YF November 20, 2007, 4:02 pm
  • Yeah how from 2002 to 2003 his HR,Rbi’s jump very high.Also his OBP% and SLG went up almost 100 points.
    Also he might be in the MVP voting but he will never win it because he isn’t a Athlete he is just a hitter.Can’t wait when he’s 36 and even on DH he will breakdown.

    Adrian-Retire21 November 20, 2007, 7:04 pm
  • ARod didn’t win the MVP the year he hit 57 HR’s.. so go figure.

    Lar November 21, 2007, 5:13 pm

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