When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2012, catcher Buster Posey was the National League’s MVP. When they won the World Series this past season, Posey was the highest ranking Giant player in the MVP voting when he finished sixth (Giants outfielder Hunter Pence finished 11th, the second-highest finish for a Giants player) in the National League voting. Go back a few more years to when San Francisco won the 2010 World Series, and you’ll see that Aubrey Huff was the Giants player who finished the highest in the voting with a seventh-place finish.
What does all this mean? Well, based on past history we can see that no longer does it take a front-runner for the league MVP Award to lead his team to the World Series.
This year was the 11th time since 1990 that the World Series champion did not have a player finish in the Top 5 for the league MVP Award. Here’s a look at those 11 teams.
World Series champ, highest finish for the league MVP Award
1990: Cincinnati, Barry Larkin (7th)
1991: Minnesota, Kirby Puckett (7th)
1996 N.Y. Yankees, Mariano Rivera (tie for 12th)
1997: Florida, Moises Alou (10th)
1999: N.Y. Yankees, Derek Jeter (6th)
2000: N.Y. Yankees, Derek Jeter (10th)
2003: Florida, Juan Pierre (10th)
2005: Chicago White Sox, Paul Konerko (6th)
2010: San Francisco, Aubrey Huff (7th)
2013: Boston, Dustin Pedroia (tie for 7th)
2014: San Francisco, Buster Posey (6th)
Prior to the 1990 season, there was never a season where the World Series champion had a player finish lower than 5th in the league MVP Award balloting. In fact, from 1923 to 1989, only seven teams won the World Series with the highest player finish in the league MVP Award being third or lower. Those seven:
1989 Oakland (Dennis Eckersley, 5th); 1987 Minnesota (Kirby Puckett, 3rd); 1986 N.Y. Mets (Gary Carter, 3rd); 1981 L.A. Dodgers (Fernando Valenzuela, 5th); 1977 N.Y. Yankees (Graig Nettles, 5th); 1959 L.A. Dodgers (Wally Moon, 4th); 1928 N.Y. Yankees (Tony Lazzeri, 4th).
From 1923 to 1984 (60 seasons), 41 of the World Series champs also had the player who won the league MVP Award in their league, with another 15 World Series champs having the player who finished second in the balloting for the league honor. Since 1985, only two teams that won the World Series had the player who won the league MVP Award: Posey in 2012 for the Giants, and in 1988 when N.L. MVP Kirk Gibson led the Dodgers to a World Series title.
Is there a lesson here? Probably that it no longer takes a team with a front-runner for the league MVP to win the World Series.
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