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The Triple Crown Is in His Reach. The M.V.P. Probably Isn’t.

  • September 14, 2021

That had to feel especially familiar for Williams, who also finished behind DiMaggio in the 1941 M.V.P. voting despite batting .406. To the voters in 1941, the math went like this:

First-place team + 56-game hitting streak Hitting .400

The M.V.P.-less fate that befell Williams twice, and could happen for Guerrero this year, has other precedent as well. Lou Gehrig won the A.L. triple crown in 1934 and finished fifth in M.V.P. voting — he didn’t even place first among his teammates. In 1933, Chuck Klein of the Philadelphia Phillies won the N.L. triple crown but lost the M.V.P. to Carl Hubbell of the Giants. In 1912, Heinie Zimmerman of the Chicago Cubs captured the N.L. triple crown and finished tied for sixth in the M.V.P. voting, well behind the winner, Larry Doyle of the Giants.

In some of the other triple crown years, no M.V.P. was awarded. And in the case of the 10 triple crowns that Baseball Reference has recognized from the Negro leagues, no M.V.P. information is given.

As for 2021, the decision has very likely already been made by most voters. Either Ohtani or Guerrero would be a fine pick for M.V.P., but the historical oddity of Ohtani’s season is likely to tip the scale in his favor. A nice way to offset that potential frustration for Guerrero would be to have a nice long playoff run — something that has eluded both Ohtani and Trout so far in their careers, regardless of their greatness.

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