The Greatest Season Performance to Not Win the MVP Award

koufax32

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I have a few in mind as I randomly thought about this today. Throw out some discussion. Make a nomination in bold. If enough are made I'll try to set up a poll. Discussions like this are what make this site se one to none. Do your thing SoSH.
 

Pilgrim

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Pitchers are always graded on a curve for this award, but the first thing that comes to mind is Pedro's 12 (!!!) fWar 1999.

If you pitched arguably the greatest season ever pitched, you're the MVP.
 

SumnerH

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Ruth got robbed as much as Ted, if not more.
 
e.g. 1926: George Burns hits .358/.394/.494 for a .889 OPS and a pretty nice 130 OPS+, fielding 1B and amassing 4.9 WAR.
Babe Ruth in 1926 hits .372/.516/.737 for a 1.253 OPS and a 225 OPS+, fielding in the OF and putting up 11.4 WAR.

Burns somehow wins the AL MVP.

Ruth's 1924 and 1927 were arguably better years, but he was beaten out by an otherworldly 1927 performance by Gehrig that was at least in the conversation and a pretty great (if somewhat lacking by comparison) 1924 campaign by Walter Johnson. Ruth's 1921 season is maybe technically the "greatest season performance not to win the MVP award" and 1920 is right there, but the MVP wasn't given out those years.
 
Dec 10, 2012
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If Pedro 1999 is 1A for pitchers, Greg Maddux 1995 is 1B
 
19-2, 1.63, .81, 181-23 KO/BB
 
And both of them duplicated their artwork 2 years in a row.
 
(gonna be interesting to see if anyone, even Kershaw can duplicate GM's1992-1998 7 year stretch)
 
 
 
Arod 1996 was pretty darn good too.
 

The Talented Allen Ripley

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McGwire's 1998. 299/470/752 for an OPS of 1.222. OPS+ of 216. He lost to another likely 'roider in Sosa, so it's not like that's an excuse.
 
Ironically, Sosa's 2001 came in at 328/437/737 for an OPS of 1.174 and an OPS+ of 203 and he lost to Bonds.
 
Some crazy-ass numbers in those years.
 
Dec 10, 2012
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Pilgrim said:
Pitchers are always graded on a curve for this award, but the first thing that comes to mind is Pedro's 12 (!!!) fWar 1999.

If you pitched arguably the greatest season ever pitched, you're the MVP.
The next year, in 2000, Pedro increased his ERA+ from 243 to 291!!!!! and lowered his WHIP from .923 to .737!!!!!
 
.737 is the lowest of all time
 
Finished 5th!!! that year. (heart of the steroid era, 4 guys put up 41+ HR, 132+ RBI, 1,000+ OPS)
 

Tito's Pullover

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SumnerH said:
Ruth got robbed as much as Ted, if not more.
 
e.g. 1926: George Burns hits .358/.394/.494 for a .889 OPS and a pretty nice 130 OPS+, fielding 1B and amassing 4.9 WAR.
Babe Ruth in 1926 hits .372/.516/.737 for a 1.253 OPS and a 225 OPS+, fielding in the OF and putting up 11.4 WAR.

Burns somehow wins the AL MVP.

Ruth's 1924 and 1927 were arguably better years, but he was beaten out by an otherworldly 1927 performance by Gehrig that was at least in the conversation and a pretty great (if somewhat lacking by comparison) 1924 campaign by Walter Johnson. Ruth's 1921 season is maybe technically the "greatest season performance not to win the MVP award" and 1920 is right there, but the MVP wasn't given out those years.
I recall reading somewhere that the MVP award in the 1920s had an inexplicable "once-in-your-career-only" rule.  I'm not sure whether this was a hard rule or an unwritten one, or one some voters simply self-enforced with seemingly braindead votes (on the level of leaving Pedro off a ballot in 99/00).

It doesn't change the fact that those performances are in the running for GOAT non-MVP winning seasons, but it's the same sort of technicality you cited for 1920-21.  He wasn't really robbed, he was ineligible due to dumb rules.

Pedro 1999 and 2000 are nominees 1A and 1B for me, with admitted fanboyism.  I can't decide if Verlander's (deserved) selection 12 years later should make me feel better or worse about the snub, but I'm happy voters came to their senses -- at least for that year.
 
Edit: bolded nominees
 

SumnerH

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Tito's Pullover said:
I recall reading somewhere that the MVP award in the 1920s had an inexplicable "once-in-your-career-only" rule.  I'm not sure whether this was a hard rule or an unwritten one, or one some voters simply self-enforced with seemingly braindead votes (on the level of leaving Pedro off a ballot in 99/00).
 
You're right, prior award winners were ineligible in the AL (but not in the NL--Rogers Hornsby won a couple of times in the 1920s).
 
He was eligible again in 1931, when he only hit .495/.700/1.195 for a 218 OPS+ and 10.4 rWAR.  Which was apparently only good for 5th in the voting.  But that's not as bad as some of Ted's losses.
 

SumnerH

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jose melendez said:
Albert Belle may not have had one of the greatest seasons of all time, but he sure as hell got jobbed in 1995.
 
Not as badly as Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez did.  
 
rWAR has Vaughn #3 on the Red Sox, after John Valentin--who's also ahead of Albert Belle--and Tim Wakefield, and #12 in the AL.  Certainly WAR is idiosyncratic, but it's tough to look at the numbers and come up with a case for Vaughn over Martinez or Tim Salmon or Belle as a hitter.  And you don't need great faith in defensive metrics to see that he's not making up a lot of ground in the field.  And he didn't have a crazy WPA or anything to make a clutchiness case for him.
 

lillabullero

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Setting pitchers aside and putting all faith in bWar: of the top 7 performances to not win an MVP since 1930, three (nos. 1, 4, and 7) are Willie Mays from 1962 to 1964.
 
They're all pretty interchangeable, but Mays 1964 might be the best: 296/383/607, with 11.09 bWAR. He finally won his second MVP in 1965, but that run together is among the least rewarded peaks of all time. All the mid-60s, NL factors making Koufax look otherworldly make Mays look merely great. Only in '63 was there a reasonable case for someone else (either Koufax, who did win, or Aaron).
 
The rest of the top 7, in order, are Trout 2012; Williams 1942; Williams 1941 (the only other candidate for snubbed peak); and Mantle 1961. Yaz in 68 is number 8. 
 

glennhoffmania

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I'll say it.  Jeter in 2006.
 
Morneau's fWAR was 3.7.  Jeter was 6.1.  They were closer in bWAR but Jeter was still better.  I was shocked that Morneau won.
 

SumnerH

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glennhoffmania said:
I'll say it.  Jeter in 2006.
 
Morneau's fWAR was 3.7.  Jeter was 6.1.  They were closer in bWAR but Jeter was still better.  I was shocked that Morneau won.
 
That not only isn't anywhere near the aforementioned Ted or Mays seasons (thus not in the running for the greatest single-season performance not to win the MVP), but it's probably not even the best performance of the year.  Morneau was a poor choice, but e.g. Mauer and Sizemore both had better years than Jeter by both rWAR and fWAR.  Mauer's got the traditional stats that could've attracted the votes, too (including a better BA, OBP, and SLG than Jeter while playing a good C).
 
Jeter may not even be the 3rd best player in the league from 2006: Travis Hafner, Carlos Guillen, Vernon Wells, and arguably Ortiz are right there in the conversation with him.  But Mauer and Sizemore look to me to be a cut above the rest.
 

glennhoffmania

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Just to be clear, I wasn't saying Jeter should've won.  At the time a lot of people assumed that he'd win.  I didn't agree, but my comment about being shocked that Morneau won wasn't only in reference to Jeter.  Jeter was clearly better than Morneau but not the best in the league.  In honor of the 2014 Jeter season I was just giving him some love with tongue partially in cheek.  He did have a great year though.
 

ivanvamp

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Trout in 2013 has to be in the conversation.  9.7 bWAR, crazy numbers all over the place, defensive star.  179 ops+.
 

coremiller

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Al Zarilla said:
Williams won 2 MVPs, should have won 5. If you click on the MVP-2s in the far right column, the MVP ranking comes up.
 
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/willite01.shtml
 
It's incredible that Williams hit .400 in 1941 and twice won the Triple Crown (in 1942 and 1947) but won the award in NONE of those seasons.
 
Another good case is 1934, when Lou Gehrig won the Triple Crown with a .363/.465/.706 slash line and 10.4 bWAR and finished 5th in the voting.  Mickey Cochrane won despite hitting only two (yes, 2) home runs that year.
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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ivanvamp said:
Trout in 2013 has to be in the conversation.  9.7 bWAR, crazy numbers all over the place, defensive star.  179 ops+.
He may have been screwed worse in 2012. 10.1 fWAR, 30 HR, 83 RBIs, 129 R, 49 SB, 326/399/564 (67% better then league average) versus 10.5 fWAR, 27 HR, 97 RBIs, 109 R, 33 SB, 323/432/557 (76% better than league average). He was phenominal defensively both years and both are worth mentioning n this thread.

It's tough to say he got screwed given how great Miggy was at the plate and how driven this award has been historically by hitting stats, but it is pretty clear that Trout was the better overall player and had the better overall season both years.