5. 1998 NL MVP, Sammy Sosa over Mark McGwire
Sosa: .308/.377/.647, 66 HR, 158 RBI, 160 OPS+, 68.3 VORP
McGwire: .299/.470/.752, 70 HR, 147 RBI, 216 OPS+, 104.3 VORP
If you're trying to win an MVP that you don't deserve, there are two important things to do: drive in more runs than your competition, and walk a lot less. The voters pay pretty much no attention to walks now, and I would imagine it was even worse nine years ago. Sosa had a slightly higher BA, but walked in 11% of his PAs, compared to McGwire's 24%.The voting wasn't even close, with Sosa taking 30 of the 32 first place votes. The reason for that was that the Cubs made the playoffs, edging out the Giants and Mets for the Wild Card with 90 wins. But it's not like the Cardinals were terrible, as they won 83 games.
4. 2001 AL MVP, Ichiro Suzuki over Jason Giambi
Giambi has a huge advantage because he he had more than four times as many walks as Ichiro (129-30), but that wasn't taken into considseration, obviously. Ichiro won because he was new and fast and cool, and because the Mariners won 116 games. That's great, and there might be some kind of argument there if the A's finished in last, but they won 102 games (2nd best in the majors), running away with the Wild Card by 17 games.
Ichiro obviously has an edge in the field, but 50 runs? Not so much.
3. 1995 AL MVP, Mo Vaughn over Albert Belle
Look at those numbers. Mo Vaughn was not better than Albert Belle at any aspect of baseball in 1995. He did not hit for a higher average, he didn't get on base more, he didn't hit more HRs, their SLGs aren't even comparable...he didn't even have more RBIs. The voters may sometimes factor fielding in (or at least attempt to), but Mo Vaughn isn't exactly known for his glove. The Indians were also much better than the Red Sox in '95, as they won almost 70% of their games in the strike shortened season.
So, why did Mo Vaughn win this award? Because Albert Belle is not a nice person:
And that's ignoring the stuff that hapened after this voting occured, which includes knocking Fernando Vina over, chasing trick-or-treaters down in his car, and cursing out Hannah Storm.
"In 1990, he threw a baseball into the stands, where it struck a fan who had been taunting him about his alcohol rehab....In 1986, he went after a heckler in the stands who was shouting racist insults at him; he was suspended while his team played in the College World Series."
Lets see what Buster Olney, who somehow already had an MVP vote 12 years ago, has to say about the situation:
"At that time, baseball was in a very, very fragile state, having come off the strike year. I felt like the MVP was also who was most valuable to the game as a whole...I do think that's probably a human element that determines what happens sometimes. There are certain guys you want to vote for."Great points. It doesn't matter who was better, or even who was more valuable to their team. What's important is who was "most valuable to the game as a whole", and who you "want to vote for". Because those aren't BS criteria or anything.
2. 1996 AL MVP, Juan Gonzalez over Alex Rodriguez
This one isn't even fun to complain about, it's just stupid. Gonzalez won because he had a lot of RBIs, and the Rangers won five more games than the Mariners. Rodriguez should have won because his OBP was 46 points higher, he had 19 more doubles, and he did all this as a shortstop.
"The scribes, LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis's Star-Tribune and George King of the New York Post, said they could not justify giving the award to a player who participates every fifth day. Also, they argued, pitchers are eligible for the Cy Young Award, which Martinez won unanimously in 1999. That, even though MVP voters were asked to recluse themselves if they felt they could not vote for a pitcher."
In 1999, Pedro Martinez had a 2.07 ERA. The league average ERA was 5.02. He struck out over 13 guys per nine innings. But apparently a guy with a .356 OBP was more "valuable".
Photos: Boston.com, Washington Post, SI, Latino Sports Legends.