5 Lengendary MLB MVPs Who Played for Losing Teams [VIDEOS]
Because he plays for the Colorado Rockies, who have among the worst records of any Major League Baseball team at the All-Star break, Carlos Gonzalez flies under the radar.
Nevertheless, Gonzalez has put together an impressive first half this season, on pace for a .330 batting average, 35 home runs and 120 RBIs. At the same time, Colorado is headed toward a 100-loss season unless they can turn things around in the second half. If Gonzalez keeps it up, he’ll be an MVP candidate while playing for a cellar-dwelling team. Here’s a look back at the five times baseball players have gotten the game’s top award while suiting up for losing teams:
ALEX RODRIGUEZ – 2003
A-Rod became just the second player in MLB history to win the MVP while playing for a last-place team. In 2003, his last with the Rangers, he had a monster year in which he led the American League in home runs, runs scored, and slugging percentage. A few years later, though, an explanation for Rodriguez’s gigantic numbers emerged: he tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003. Mandatory random drug testing were instituted the next year, and A-Rod’s numbers have remained superb as he’s gone on to win two more MVPs, although he has put up more pedestrian numbers this season.
CAL RIPKEN, JR. – 1991
The Hall of Famer earned his second career MVP when he hit .323 with 34 HRs and 114 RBIs. He also took home a Gold Glove Award and All-Star Game MVP award. It was one of the most spectacular seasons we’ve ever seen, yet the Orioles finished the year with a 67–95 record. Some believe that Ripken might have stolen the award from more deserving players who played for league contenders. The Blue Jays’ Joe Carter, for instance, led his team to the division title while putting up equally good numbers.
ANDRE DAWSON – 1987
Dawson was the first player in history to win MVP while playing for a last-place team. He hit 49 homers and drive in 137 RBIs while trying to keep the Cubs afloat — they collapsed in the latter half of the season and finished at 76-85. But others may have gotten snubbed that year, particularly Ozzie Smith. Dawson was not only a much worse defender than Smith was, Smith also batted .302 and scored 104 runs that year. The Cardinals shortstop finished second in MVP voting.
ERNIE BANKS – 1958
Today, shortstops can hit for power like anyone else, but back when Banks played he was the first to show what kind of offensive statistics players at that position could amass. In 1958, he led the NL in slugging, home runs and total bases. But he also had the defensive skills to show. That year, he committed only 12 errors in 155 games for the 72-82 Cubs. Even with the Cubs’ futility, Banks was praised for his optimism, most famous for his line, “What a great day for baseball. Let’s play two!” That wasn’t the end of it, though…
ERNIE BANKS – 1959
…as Banks did it again the next year. Banks hit his stride in the late ’50s when he had his only two MVP seasons back-to-back while cranking out 40+ home runs and batting .300 each year. He also led the NL in RBI both seasons. Again in 1959, Chicago couldn’t take advantage of the numbers that its star player was putting up day in and out, and the team stumbled to a 74-80 record. Despite being known as one of the greatest to ever play his position, Banks never made the postseason — only six teams he played on had winning records in his 19 seasons.