Some Random Awards Data

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this in your time in The Billpen, but I love the MLB awards. Why that is, I don’t really know, but I am always invested into who is awarded what at the end of each season. It’s come to the point where I will do an awards pick’em, so to speak, where I make predictions about each outcome (who I want to win/who I think will win). I think last year, I correctly predicted 13/17 Gold Gloves (after the finalists were announced of course), and was pretty darn close with the other individual awards (MVP/ROY/CYA, etc.). Except I can never guess Manager of the Year. Hmm.

But today I bring you a perspective on the awards that I’ve never personally seen before, and I hope you haven’t either. Hardware isn’t necessarily a boost into the Hall of Fame, though it certainly helps a resume. What I did was collect a certain group of players that have won both Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player awards and analyze whether or not that increases one’s chances at the Hall. It started as a quest to find patterns between the two awards, such as how many players won it in the same year, in consecutive years, or the most years in between the two, and it developed into a spreadsheet monster (of course it did, you know I love useless spreadsheets) and from that I could deduce multiple useless facts to impress your friends. Although they probably won’t be your friends afterward. Sorry.

Note: The Rookie of the Year was first awarded in 1947. I did not include players that debuted before that year in any of my research.

Player ROY Year MVP Year
Jackie Robinson 1947 1949
Don Newcombe 1949 1956
Willie Mays 1951 1954
Frank Robinson 1956 1961
Orlando Cepeda 1958 1967
Willie McCovey 1959 1969
Pete Rose 1963 1973
Dick Allen 1964 1972
Rod Carew 1967 1977
Johnny Bench 1968 1972
Thurman Munson 1970 1976
Fred Lynn 1975 1975
Andre Dawson 1977 1987
Cal Ripken, Jr. 1982 1983
Jose Canseco 1986 1988
Jeff Bagwell 1991 1994
Albert Pujols 2001 2005
Ichiro 2001 2001
Ryan Howard 2005 2006
Justin Verlander 2006 2011
Dustin Pedroia 2007 2008
Ryan Braun 2007 2011
Buster Posey 2010 2012
Bryce Harper 2012 2015
Mike Trout 2012 2014

25 impressive names on that list, especially in the last 10-15 years. The Rookie of the Year award has become an excellent barometer at future success in the Major Leagues; other recent ROYs such as Craig Kimbrel and Jose Fernandez have posted some incredibly impressive seasons. 2015’s ROYs Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa definitely have the tools to join this list; if it isn’t in 2016, then it very well could be in the near future.

But what about this list’s relationship to the Hall of Fame? To begin, we’ll have to eliminate the players who are still active, so starting with Pujols, everyone towards the bottom doesn’t count. Jeff Bagwell is still on the ballot and trending towards induction in a few years, but for this instance, he’ll have to be left out, too. From Robinson to Canseco, that leaves 15 players who have been out of the game long enough to have an answer about the Hall.

Player Inducted?
Jackie Robinson Yes
Don Newcombe No
Willie Mays Yes
Frank Robinson Yes
Orlando Cepeda Yes
Willie McCovey Yes
Pete Rose No
Dick Allen No
Rod Carew Yes
Johnny Bench Yes
Thurman Munson No
Fred Lynn No
Andre Dawson Yes
Cal Ripken, Jr. Yes
Jose Canseco No

9 inductees, 6 left out in the cold. Of those 6, Pete Rose and Jose Canseco weren’t inducted due to extra-curricular activities rather than lack of merit like the other 4 (Lynn, Munson, Allen, Newcombe). If you take those two out of the list for eligibility reasons, that leaves 9/13 winners of both awards in the Hall of Fame, about a 70% induction rate. I was expecting much higher.

So let’s expand the list to include the active players and Bagwell, who is still on the ballot. Of those active┬áten, I foresee 6 of those players being locks for the Hall, 2 as toss-ups, and the remaining 2 in the Hall of Very Good.

The six locks: Bagwell, Pujols, Ichiro, Posey, Harper, Trout. The first three are better than half of the Hall of Fame already. I know I didn’t include Bagwell in my ballot this year but I don’t think I gave him a fair trial; I think he deserves it and I think he will eventually get in. The latter half is a little trickier given how young they are, but Posey already has 3 rings, and Harper and Trout are on the path to greatness without any signs of slowing down. You know the hype about them, I won’t explain any further.

The 2 toss-ups are Justin Verlander and Dustin Pedroia. Both are in their early 30s and what we see from them in the coming years will determine their candidacy. Verlander already has over 150 wins and in 2011 won the Cy Young and pitching triple crown (league leader in wins, strikeouts, and ERA). Pedroia has 2 rings (2007, 2013), a handful of Gold Gloves, and the gritty/scrappy leadership that is so appealing to the masses. Only time will tell but the first half of their careers is a promising start.x

The 2 left out are Ryan Braun and Ryan Howard. Being named Ryan hasn’t helped their case, the only Ryan in the Hall of Fame is Nolan and Ryan isn’t even his first name. Seriously though, Braun shot himself in the foot when he was suspended for PEDs and the surrounding PR circus that followed. Whatever he does for the rest of his career will share equal thoughts with “yeah, but he juiced.” Ryan Howard is just a troubling case, after exploding onto the scene with the Phillies and winning the ROY and MVP in consecutive seasons, he has withered away into nothingness with the Phillies. Between rupturing his Achilles tendon and legal issues with his family and finances, Howard hasn’t shown any signs of repeating the success he had early in his career.

Updating the numbers and incorporating the actives, that puts us at 15 Hall of Famers, 8 left out, and 2 for whom we need more data. That means only 63%, less than two-thirds, of winners of both awards will be inducted. Again, of the 8 that are out, 3 are out by their own doing (Rose, Braun, Canseco), so that means only 5 (Newcombe, Allen, Munson, Lynn, Howard) will be out because of merit. Interesting.

In conclusion, winning both awards does not automatically send you to Cooperstown. Conversely, not winning any awards doesn’t exclude you from being inducted either. Winning the awards certainly helps a player’s case, but it doesn’t make or break one.

Here are the random facts about the winners:
1) Fred Lynn and Ichiro are the only players to win these awards in the same year (I wrote about this about a year ago when looking at Ichiro’s career).
2) Ryan Howard, Dustin Pedroia, and Cal Ripken, Jr. are the only 3 players ever to win the award in consecutive years.
3) Willie McCovey, Rod Carew, and Andre Dawson had the longest gaps between wins; they all won the MVP 10 years after their ROY.
4) Justin Verlander and Don Newcombe are the only pitchers on this list. As of today, they have nearly identical statistics.
5) 3 times have the ROYs from both leagues in the same year gone on to win the MVP: 2001 (Ichiro and Pujols), 2007 (Pedroia, Braun), 2012 (Trout, Harper)

And what’s a Billpen post without a few superlatives:
Best player never to win MVP: Derek Jeter
Best player to win MVP but not ROY (1947-present): Miguel Cabrera
Best player without any major hardware (WS, MVP, ROY, etc): Tony Gwynn
Best player without any rings (any era): Ted Williams

Thanks for reading.

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