“Without losers, where would the winners be?”
– Casey Stengel
The culmination of the 2016 Major League Baseball season is upon us. With a World Series Champion due to be crowned by the end of the month. This is THE best time of year, with all four major sports either wrapping up (MLB), surveying early wreckage (NFL), or embarking on an “Oregon Trail” like journey hoping to survive until spring (NBA/NHL).
To the victor belong the spoils?
Can you name the only player in MLB history to be named the MVP of a LOSING World Series?
Bobby Richardson in 1960. In a series where the Yankees battered the Pirates in every win, but with one swing by Bill Mazeroski was reduced to a footnote in (run differential) history.
For almost every other MLB Postseason series where an MVP is selected (ALCS/NLCS/World Series), the award goes to a winning team player. Let’s take a look at some performances that were outstanding, but forgotten due to the outcome of a series:
2013 ALCS: Boston def. Detroit (4-2)
Series MVP: Koji Uehara
What if Detroit won?
No wonder he fled for the National League. Max Scherzer left both starts in the 7th inning with the lead. What happened?
What about his other start?
Scherzer’s stat line? 13.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 BB*, 21 K
2011 World Series: St. Louis def. Texas (4-3)
Series MVP: David Freese
What if Texas won?
#PartyAtNapolis a few years early. Seriously. He battered the Cardinals at a .350 clip with 2 HR, 10 RBI and 14 Total Bases. If Nelson Cruz didn’t misplay a David Freese line drive into a triple in Game 6, Napoli had this one locked up.
2002 World Series:
Anaheim def. San Francisco (4-3) Series MVP: Troy Glaus
What if the Giants won?
Well, let’s see. Batting average of .471, 4 HR and he was WALKED 13 TIMES!
“That’s the farthest ball I’ve ever seen hit here.” spoken in awe by Tim Salmon:
San Francisco def. Chicago (4-1)
Series MVP: Will Clark
What if the Cubs won?
This series is largely forgotten, for obvious reasons by Cub fans, but it was overshadowed by the Bay Area “Earthquake” World Series. This is also the reason for this post. Here are two stat lines from the series: .650 Batting Avg., 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI .647 Batting Avg., 3 2B, 3B, HR, 8 RBI The first stat line is Will Clark, the other is Mark Grace. Unfortunately, I don’t think Grace’s Cubs would have had much of a chance against the Oakland A’s in the World Series.
1985 World Series: Kansas City def. St. Louis (4-3) Series MVP: Bret Saberhagen Saberhagen wrapped this up with a CG Shutout in the clinching Game 7, allowing one run in 18 total World Series innings. What if the Cardinals won? Google “Don Denkinger”. Ok, now that you’re back here, the Cardinals would have won the World Series in 6 games. John Tudor would have 2 wins after 16 innings allowing only one run himself.
History fondly remembers the winners, but there is high honors to go around for those who are on the wrong side of the trophy presentation.
Follow Jason Trask on Twitter @Coach_Trask
Photo Credit: Timothy Clary/Getty Images via CBS San Francisco