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MVP'ing Away Votes
2004-11-18 00:46
by Mike Carminati

The AL MVP vote was announced yesterday, and to my surprise, the voters again did a decent job. It was an extremely close "race". There were a good many good choices but no clear-cut, obvious choice. If you use Win Shares to evaluate the candidates, Gary Sheffield has a slight edge over Vladimir Guerrero (31 to 29). If you use VORP, Guerrero had a tremendous lead over Sheffield (93.2 to 63.8). If you split the difference, as I did in my IBWA ballot, you give the nod to Guerrero, which is basically what the voters did.

OK, move along. There's not much to see there. No Mo Vaughn or Juan Gonzalez type misappropriation of hardware to get our hackles up. Oh, dang!

My hackles at least had some bÍte noires to at least occupy themselves. To wit, Chone Figgins got two votes. Two baseball analysts thought that the Angels super reserve player was one of the top ten players in the American League. These are the people who cheer for Super Joe McEwing, Jose Oquendo, Luis Aguayo, and Little Louie Giammona and pooh-pooh Barry Bonds total domination.

Heck, the preeminent analyst, John Kruk, picked Figgins as his AL MVP. I've already gone over why that's misguided.

Then there's the sect that believes that relievers should be represented in the MVP vote but not the Cy Young vote because they are "everyday players". But I think it's a silly argument since if the reliever were truly that valuable, he'd be a starter and then wouldn't be "eligible" for the MVP vote.

Anyway, Joe Nathan, Francisco Cordero, Mariano Rivera received some support. Of the three only Rivera is a truly great closer. Nathan may be a one-year wonder. Cordero was good but probably wasn't more than the 5thor 6th most valuable Ranger.

It all got me to thinking about who were the worst players in baseball history to receive an MVP vote or a vote for any other award for that matter. I'll call the MVP version the Zolio award for Zoilo Versalles, and his one glaringly odd MVP award in the min-Sixties.

The Zolios

First, how do we assess the worst players? What stats should we use? Do we evaluate them based on the season in which he received the odd vote or over his entire career?

Well, let's start with OPS for batters and ERA for pitchers. Here are the players who received an MVP vote with the worst career OPS. The first and last years in which they received a vote and their cumulative MVP points, 1st-place votes, and maximum available points are also listed:

NameFirstLastPts1stMax PtsBAOBPSLUGOPSAB
Sam Agnew191419142064.
George McBride19111914120256.
Dal Maxvill1968196840280.
Bobby Malkmus1961196110224.215.265.301.565572
Roy Schalk19451945130336.
Paul Casanova1967196730280.225.252.319.5712786
Jose Valdivielso1955195510336.
Blondy Ryan1933193319
Jim Levey193219325080.230.272.305.5761632
Tommy Thevenow1926192630
Mark Belanger196919741601008.228.300.280.5805784
Ed Brinkman19691972690672.224.280.300.5806045
Mickey Doolan19111913120128.230.279.306.5855977
Danny Thompson1972197250336.248.287.310.5962218
Everett Scott19141922130128.249.281.315.5965837
Skeeter Newsome1943194540672.245.293.304.5973716
Buck Rodgers1962196260280.232.288.312.6003033
Ruben Amaro1964196450280.234.309.292.6012155
Ira Thomas1911191112064.242.296.308.6041352
Paul Richards19441945430672.227.305.301.6061417
George Gibson191119114064.236.295.312.6073776
Sam Dente1950195010336.252.303.305.6082320
John Knight191119114064.239.300.309.6092664
Johnny Hudson1938193830336.242.296.314.6101169
Joe Birmingham191219122064.253.294.316.6102633
Denny Doyle1975197550336.250.295.316.6113290
Rodney Scott1980198010336.236.326.285.6122132
Benny Bengough192519252064.255.295.317.6131125
Bud Harrelson197019731601008.236.327.288.6164744
George Moriarty1912191440128.251.303.312.6163671

Now here are the worst pitchers:

NameFirstLastPts1stMax PtsGPWLPCTERA
Roxie Lawson1937193740802084739.5475.37
Jason Bere19941994103922117165.5225.14
Johnny Babich19401940503361123045.4004.93
Cliff Fannin19481948203361643451.4004.85
Hod Lisenbee1927192750642073758.3894.81
Dick Drott19571957603361762746.3704.78
Rick Helling19981998103922669078.5364.77
Esteban Loaiza200320034039230010089.5294.70
Earl Caldwell194619461803362003343.4344.69
Vern Kennedy1936193627 80344104132.4414.67
Bob Chesnes1948194880336612422.5224.66
Johnny Marcum1935193530801956563.5084.66
Dick Coffman19381938603364727295.4314.65
John Whitehead1935193540801724954.4764.60
Pete Schourek19951995203922886677.4624.59
Scott Erickson19911991120392361141132.5164.54
Hal Gregg19451945203362004048.4554.54
Rich Gale19781978203921955556.4954.54
Dick Newsome19411941320336853533.5154.50
Benny Frey1934193440802565782.4104.50

However, This may not be the fairest way to compare players across different eras. What if we try again using Win Shares as the criterion? Here are the worst by career WS:

NameFirstLastPts1stMax PtsWinShares
Bobby Malkmus19611961102247
Eddie Yuhas195219525033611
Roy Schalk1945194513033614
Bob Brown1932193210 8015
Doc Gautreau19251925208016
Jose Valdivielso195519551033616
Carl Lind19281928406417
Neal Finn19311931508017
Bill McCahan194719474033618
Ken Wood195019502033618
Blondy Ryan1933193319 8019
Harry Davis19321932508019
Jim Levey19321932508019
Johnny Hudson193819383033619
Bob Chesnes194819488033620
Dick Drott195719576033620
Dick Newsome1941194132033620
Earle Brucker193819385033620
Victor Martinez200420044039220
Johnny Babich194019405033621
Bill Dailey196319633028022
Creepy Crespi1941194113033623
Dick Hughes1967196710028024
Tom Johnson197719772039224
Dontrelle Willis200320031044824

Now for the lowest single-season Win Share total to be rewarded with an MVP vote:

NameYrPts1stMax PtsWinShares
Earl Torgeson1949203363
Bobby Malkmus1961102244
Elston Howard1967702804
Joe Cronin1943303364
Johnny Kling191110644
Ken Wood1950203364
Marty McManus193220804
Doc Gautreau192520805
Elden Auker1941103365
Frankie Crosetti1944203365
Granny Hamner1957303365
Hughie Critz192950805
Monte Irvin1952503365
Phil Todt192710645
Al Lopez1945203366
Bobby Reeves192770646
George Gibson191140646
George Stovall191350646
Jimmie Wilson193250806
Jose Valdivielso1955103366
Mark Christman1947403366
Mookie Wilson1989103926
Rabbit Maranville193311 806
Rick Ferrell1942803366
Rollie Hemsley1944403366
Sam Agnew191420646
Ski Melillo192660646

By the way, Figgons (28 career WS) just missed the career list.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the Charboneaus (worst Rookie of the Year vote getters), the Vuckoviches (Cy Young), and the Buddies (Manager of the Year).

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