By: Noah Wright
In the history of baseball, there have been plenty of undeserved awards. One of the biggest awards in baseball is the coveted Most Valuable Player award. The award is given to the supposed Most Valuable Player of the AL and NL. Most of the time, they get it right. But there are a handful of times that the MVP is handed to an undeserving player. Maybe not because that player didn’t have a good season, but because there were plenty of more valuable candidates. So let's go back through the decades to see some of the least deserving MVP candidates, starting with 2000 to 2009.
NOTE: Playoffs are not being taken into account since the voting is taken before the playoffs start
- 2000 AL MVP:
The 2000 AL MVP went to Jason Giambi, and Giambi seemed to deserve it. Giambi was probably the best slugger in the entire AL. He blasted 43 home runs to go with a .333/.476/.647 batting line in 664 PA’s. That was good enough for a 183 wRC+. Giambi also led the league in walks with 138 and OPS+ at 187. But Giambi really lacked defense. He was rated as a poor defender at first base, having a -1.2 dWAR. Plus, he wasn’t any sort of speed demon, or amazing base runner either. His BSR was just .5. The award instead should have went to Alex Rodriguez that season. Rodriguez crushed 41 home runs, while posting a .316/.420/.606 batting line in 672 PA’s. He finished the ‘00 season with a 158 wRC+ and 163 OPS+. Sure it wasn’t as good as Giambi’s overall offense, but Rodriguez was beyond elite at shortstop that season. At the middle infield position, A-Rod had a 2.4 dWAR. His base running was also very good with 1.3 BSR and 15 stolen bases. Rodriguez finished 3rd in MVP voting back in 2000, with Frank Thomas finishing 2nd.
Other candidate(s): Pedro Martinez
- 2002 AL MVP:
In 2002, the Moneyball A’s shortstop, Miguel Tejada took it home for the American League. He was a fine batter that year, slashing a strong .308/.354/.508 with 34 home runs in 715 PA’s. His wRC+ also deemed him as a good batter at 129. While he was not superstar with the glove, Tejada still recorded a solid .3 dWAR at short. On the basepaths, Tejada was one of the best with a 3.6 BSR. But again, A-Rod will fall back into the fold. I do not know how A-Rod didn’t take home the MVP this season. His OBP (.392), slugging (.623), home run total (57), and wRC+ (158), were all considerably higher than Tejada’s. Rodriguez was even a better base runner (4.7 BSR), and defender at shortstop (1.1 dWAR).
- 2006 NL MVP:
Ryan Howard wasn’t even the most valuable player on the Phillies roster in 2006, let alone the entire NL. Sure he was a great batter having blasted a league leading 58 home runs, and slashing .313/.425/.659 in 704 PA’s. But Howard was a horrible defender at first base. With a -9 DRS, -5.4 UZR, his dWAR was -1.8. On the other hand, you have Albert Pujols, who slugged 49 home runs, while batting .331/.431/.671 in 643 plate appearances. While Howard was an awful defender, Pujols was one of the best at first base. In ‘07, he had 17 DRS, 10.5 UZR, and .9 dWAR. Pujols was even a slightly above average base runner too with a 1.6 BSR (compared to Howard’s -5.9 BSR). Besides home runs, the only other stat that Howard was better than Pujols was RBI’s, but you’d probably lead the league in RBI’s too if you had prime Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu and Chase Utley batting in front of you.
Other candidates: Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran
- 2007 NL MVP:
Now I’m not trying to hate on the Phillies. Both Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins were great batters in their prime. Just there was someone better than them during the years they won MVP. Rollins was still a good batter in 2007. He hit for a good .296/.344/.575 batting line in 778 PA’s, while crushing 30 home runs and stealing an impressive 41 stolen bases. In all, that’s good for a solid 119 wRC+. Rollins was also an extremely good defender at shortstop with 5 DRS, 2.6 UZR, and 1.3 dWAR. But Wright was better than Rollins in almost every offensive stat. Wright was one of the best all around players 2007. He hit .325/.416/.546 with 30 home runs with a 151 wRC+ in 711 PA’s. Sure he didn’t have as many stolen bases as Rollins, but he still had 34. Defensively, Wright was really good at third base. The Mets’ captain had 12 DRS, 6.3 UZR, and 1.5 dWAR at the hot corner.
Other candidates: Chipper Jones, Jake Peavy