MVP voters don’t show much love to pitchers
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday
There has been quite a bit of talk and discussion among baseball experts and analysts about the possibility of Detroit’s Justin Verlander winning the American League Most Valuable Player. The Tigers pitcher has a record of 22-5 and an ERA of 2.56 to go with 232 strikeouts as of Sept. 10 for the division-leading Tigers. Whether or not you believe he deserves the honor or if pitchers should even be considered for the honor, past history has shown that the voters have been less than enthusiastic to name a pitcher the MVP.
In the history of the MVP award, 23 pitchers have won the MVP honor; 10 in the National League, 13 in the American League. The last pitcher to win an MVP was Dennis Eckersley in 1992. Bob Gibson is the last NL pitcher to win the MVP; he won the award in 1968.
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION. Can you name the last NL pitcher to finish in the top 5 for the MVP award? Hint: It was an Atlanta Braves pitcher in the ’90s. Answer at end of blog.
Following is a look at the pitchers this century who have finished in the Top 10 of the MVP voting. As you will see, only one pitcher, Pedro Martinez in 2000, has finished in the top 5 in the past 11 seasons.
Year, pitcher, finish in MVP voting
2010: Roy Halladay-Philadelphia (6th)
2008: Francisco Rodriquez-LA Angels (6th); CC Sabathia-Milwaukee (6th); Brad Lidge-Houston (8th)
2007: Jake Peavy-San Diego (7th)
2006: Johan Santana-Minnesota (7th); Trevor Hoffman-San Diego (10th)
2005: Mariano Rivera-NY Yankees (9th); Chris Carpenter-St. Louis (8th)
2004: Johan Santana-Minnesota (6th); Mariano Rivera-NY Yankees (9th); Roger Clemens-Houston (8th)
2003: Eric Gane-LA Dodgers (6th); Mark Prior-Chicago Cubs (9th)
2002: Randy Johnson-Arizona (7th); John Smoltz-Atlanta (8th); Curt Schilling-Arizona (10th)
2001: Roger Clemens-NY Yankees (8th); Curt Schilling-Arizona (10th)
2000: Pedro Martinez-Boston (5th)
TRIVIA ANSWER: Greg Maddux was the last NL pitcher to finish in the top 5 in the MVP voting. Maddux had a 19-2 record with a 1.63 ERA in 1995.
Want a pennant? Get a closer!
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday
Statistically-speaking, what does a team need to do to win a pennant? While there is no definitive answer, here is some food for thought: Taking 18 different team statistical categories, in what team stats did that season’s pennant winners lead the league the year they played in the World Series? Using the last 25 major league seasons (50 pennants) when a World Series was played, here are the results:
Pennant winner led league in: Times
Team Saves 16 (11 times AL; 5 times NL)
Lowest team ERA 15 (9 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team fielding percentage 11 (3 times AL; 8 times NL)
Highest team batting average 11 (6 times AL; 5 times NL)
Highest team slugging percentage 11 (5 times AL; 6 times NL)
Highest team on-base percentage 10 (5 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team runs scored 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team complete games 9 (2 times AL; 7 times NL)
Most team walks (batting) 9 (4 times AL; 5 times NL)
Most team hits 8 (4 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team strikeouts (pitching) 6 (2 times AL; 4 times NL)
Most team stolen bases 6 (3 times AL; 3 times NL)
Fewest errors (defensive) 6 (1 time AL; 5 times NL)
Most team home runs 5 (2 times AL; 3 times NL)
Most team doubles 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Fewest team walks (pitching) 5 (3 times AL; 2 times NL)
Most team triples 0
Most double plays (defensive) 0
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the last time the AL team leader in saves played against the NL team leader in saves in the World Series? Hint: The team leaders in saves for the two teams were Dennis Eckersley and Jay Howell.
Now that we know the numbers from the past 25 World Series, can we make a prediction as to who will be the opponents in this year’s World Series? In the American League, the most dominant factor was that 11 of the past 25 pennant winners led the AL in most team saves. This year’s leader as of Sept. 3? The Detroit Tigers. In the National League, the most dominant factor was the team with the highest team fielding percentage. The leader as of Sept. 3? The Philadelphia Phillies. Is there a Tigers-Phillies World Series on the horizon this year? Stay tuned.
TRIVIA ANSWER: The last time the AL and NL team leaders in saves faced off in the World Series was in 1988 when the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in the Fall Classic.
A dying breed: The 40-40 pitcher
When John Smoltz ended his career after the 2009 season he will likely be the last of a dying breed in major league baseball history: the 40-40 pitcher. Smoltz is one of only 37 pitchers in major league baseball history who compiled 40 or more complete games and 40 or more saves in their career. Smoltz had 53 complete games as a starter and 154 saves as a reliever in his career.
Dennis Eckersley is the only member of the 100-100 club. “Eck” had 100 career complete games and 380 saves. Three other pitchers had 60 or more complete games and saves in their careers: Firpo Mayberry (1923-36) had 86 complete games and 101 saves; Charlie Hough (1970-94) had 107 complete games and 63 saves; Clint Brown (1928-42) had 62 compete games and 64 saves.
Following are the last 13 pitchers to retire with 40 or more complete games and 40 or more saves in their career. The 40-40 Club since 1970:
Pitcher, years Career CGs Career Saves
John Smoltz, 1988-2009 53 154
Dennis Eckersley, 1975-98 100 380
Charlie Hough, 1970-94 107 63
Shane Rawley, 1978-89 41 40
Ken Forsch, 1970-86 70 51
Ron Reed, 1966-84 55 103
Woodie Fryman, 1966-83 68 58
Dick Drago, 1969-81 62 58
Wilbur Wood, 1961-78 114 57
Stan Williams, 1958-72 42 43
Mudcat Grant, 1958-71 89 53
Ron Kline, 1952-70 44 108
Pedro Ramos, 1955-70 73 55