Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of four articles that will look at the intersection of top St. Louis Cardinals teams and their best players. We will start with the Most Valuable Player Award. Future installments will address the Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove Awards.
When voting on the Top 15 St. Louis Cardinals Teams of All-Time, it occurred to me that the pre-1950's teams might have fared even better if we were able to somehow determine if any of the Cardinals players would have won Cy Young Awards, or Rookie of the Year Awards, or Gold Gloves in those years before those awards were instituted.
For instance, Dizzy Dean and Mort Cooper (pictured) won the MVP in 1934 and 1942, respectively. Might they also have won the Cy Young Award those years, had the award existed? On the other hand, had the CYA been in existence, Dean and
Cooper might not have won the MVP, since there's always a little reluctance to give MVP to a pitcher ("they have their own award"). Then again, Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Guillermo Hernandez, and Dennis Eckersley all won MVP's even though they were pitchers, and Ron Guidry almost did.
Perhaps a better example might be that of Stan Musial - might he have won the 1942 Rookie of the Year award had such existed? Or were there better rookies in the league that year?
At least baseball-reference.com is listing the pre-1931 MVP winners; the World Almanac still doesn't. 1931, of course, is the year the BBWAA took over the voting and made it "official", but the 1926 award winners (Cards catcher Bob O'Farrell) and 1928 award (Cards first baseman Jim Bottomley - pictured) at the time were considered just as "official" as the BBWAA award is nowadays.
Looking at B-R's MVP page, I'm now thinking we should add how many players from each of our top 15 teams received mentions in the MVP votes and their placement in the voting - so here goes:
1. 1942: M. Cooper (1), Slaughter (2), Marion (7), W. Cooper (11), Musial (12), Beazley (13t), Brown (13t), Moore (18), Kurowski (25) - total nine players
2. 1944: Marion (1), Musial (4), W. Cooper (8), M. Cooper (9), Sanders (15), Lanier (26t), Kurowski (29t) - total seven players
3. 1931: Frisch (1), Hafey (5), Wilson (6), Adams (9), Bottomley (15t), Derringer (20t), Gelbert (25t) - total seven players
4. 1967: Cepeda (1), McCarver (2), Brock (7), Javier (9), Flood (13), Briles (15), Hughes (17), Gibson (22t) - total eight players
5. 2004: Pujols (3), Rolen (4), Edmonds (5) - total three players
6. 1946: Musial (1), Slaughter (3), Pollet (4), Breechen (16t), Walker (22), Schoendienst (26), Marion (28), Kurowski (30t) - total eight players
7. 1934: D. Dean (1), Collins (6), P. Dean (9t), Frisch (16t) - total four players
8. 1968: Gibson (1), Flood (4), Brock (6), Shannon (7), Briles (20t), Maxvill (20t) - total six players
9. 1943: Musial (1), W. Cooper (2), M. Cooper (5), Marion (13), Klein (23) - total five players
10. 1964: Boyer (1), Brock (10), Flood (11), Gibson (23), Schultz (25) - total five players
11. 1926: O'Farrell (1), Thevenow (4), Bell (6t), Rhem (8), Hornsby (18), Alexander (19t), Southworth (19t) - total seven players
12. 1982: L. Smith (2), Sutter (5), O. Smith (13), Hendrick (14), Hernandez (17t), Andujar (19t) - total six players
13. 1985: McGee (1), Herr (5), Tudor (8t), Clark (10), Coleman (11), O. Smith (18) - total six players
14. 2005: Pujols (1), Carpenter (8), Eckstein (21), Edmonds (26) - total four players
15. 2002: Pujols (2), Edmonds (17t), Renteria (20t) - total three players
a. The 1942 team not only tops our list of Greatest Cardinals Teams, but also has the most players receiving MVP votes - nine, including two pitchers. The only position player not to get an MVP mention was first baseman Johnny Hopp. The 1967 and 1946 teams are close behind with eight players receiving MVP votes.
b. The 1942, 1943, and 1967 teams are the only three on the list to have the top two finishers in the MVP voting (M. Cooper and Slaughter in 1942, Musial and W. Cooper in 1943; Cepeda and McCarver in 1967).
c. The 1946 and 2004 teams are the only two on the list to have three of the top five finishers in the MVP voting (Musial, Slaughter and Pollet in 1946; the "MV3" of Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds in 2004).
d. The top Cards teams of the new century on this list have only had three or four players receive MVP mentions - Pujols and Edmonds in each of the three years; Renteria in 2002; Rolen in 2004 (but not 2002!); Carpenter and Eckstein in 2005.
e. Ozzie Smith is the only Cardinal who received MVP consideration in both 1982 and 1985, a sign perhaps of the tremendous turnover in the team between those two pennant-winning years (Ozzie, Herr, McGee, Porter, Forsch and Andujar were the only notable carryovers from 1982 to 1985 - oh, and Jeff Lahti too, if you want to get technical about it).
f. Surprises are plenty as one would never consider guys like Julian Javier (who finished ninth in 1967) or Barney Schultz (25th in 1964) or Dal Maxvill (tied for 20th in 1968) to receive any MVP consideration. But there they are, on the list, along with Nellie Briles, who got MVP votes twice (in both 1967 and 1968), as well as guys like Jimmy Brown, Jimmy Wilson, Sparky Adams, and Charley Gelbert.
To reference our entire list of Top 15 Cardinals Teams of All-Time and read about each individual team, click here. You can also learn more about each of the voters’ philosophies in making their selections and much more.
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