October 23, 2000
Dear Mr. White:
Question: who was the last AL MVP to appear in the World Series?
Been listening to Costas rant about the difference between World Series and playoff records. While I don't agree with his argument (how can you sell short 25 or so scoreless appearances in tight games, in late innings?), it made me think about something else.
I believe that the league MVP should be determined after the LCS is over.
From a traditionalist point of view, this makes sense in a bass-ackwards kinda way. Tradition says that we vote for MVP after the regular season, before the playoffs begin. This is a mis-interpretation of the old process.
Pre-1968 (?), the MVP was voted on after the regular season, before the World Series. But it wasn't just the end of the regular season, it used to be after THE PENNANT HAD BEEN DECIDED. Berra, Mantle, Campy, etc. All MVPs from pennant winners. DiMaggio vs Williams. I'll bet that the clear majority of MVP winners have come from pennant winners.
Answer: Rickey Henderson, 1990 (I'm sure you knew that).
Alright, so I did a little research. AL only (I'm lazy), since 1970 there have been 11 MVP winners from pennant winners (about 30%). From 1931-1969, there were only 10 MVP winners from NON-pennant winners (about 25%). Three out of four used to go to the pennant winners, now it's one out of three. This is an amazing disparity, and the traditionalist should be appalled.
Simple solution: include DCS and LCS as evidence for the writers to ponder as they vote. Don't add stats, but recognize postseason contributions. Or failings. Bonds: 4 MVPs, 4 postseason hits (hyperbole for effect). This will also help to separate Series accomplishments from playoff accomplishments (for Costas), and help us to get away from the most-RBIs-on-a-playoff-team voting mentality most writers seem to have.
Maybe we'll start seeing more intangibles come into play, as opposed to OPS rankings and RBI, and guys like Justice, Bernie (ZERO ERRORS?!?) and Jeter will finish higher than sixth in the voting (which at least one of them should, but won't).
Sorry for the dissertation. Hope to speak with you soon.