It’s Election Day in America – just in case you’ve been living in Carbonite, these past few months. In honor of this day (and our pu-pu platter of candidates), I’ve compiled a short list of the worst results to ever go down in Major League Baseball history.
3. Fred Lynn got MVP shafted – 1979
Fred Lynn didn’t win the ’79 AL Triple Crown, but he came damn close. He paced the junior circuit in batting average (.333), while finishing second in home runs (39) and fourth in RBI (122). He also led the league in OBP (.423), SLG (.637) and WAR (8.8), while playing an adequate centerfield.
In other words, he had the Mike Trout season before Mike Trout was born.
Like Trout, Lynn got the short end of the voting stick, in the ’79 MVP-race. Voters chose California’s Don Baylor who, to be fair, did help his team to a division title. Still, Baylor finished outside the top ten that year in WAR.
2. Eric Gagne’s NL Cy Young Award – 2003
Relievers should never win awards, as a rule.
It’s not that they don’t contribute, but the size and scope of their contributions are often dwarfed by just about everyone else. They just don’t throw enough.
Gagne is a perfect example. He appeared in 77 games, but pitched only 82.1 innings. Voters were wooed by his NL-record, 55 saves. Meanwhile, his Dodgers finished 85-77, six games out of the Wild Card.
The big loser was Mark Prior. He finished with an 18-6 record and 245 strikeouts in 211 innings. It would be his only full season, before his career was railroaded by injuries.
In terms of WAR, he was literally twice as valuable, generating 7.4 to Gagne’s 3.7.
1. Rafael Palmeiro’s Gold Glove – 1999
Before he became embroiled in that whole “steroids thing”, Rafael Palmeiro was regarded as one of the game’s most consistent players.
He was an offensive force, throughout the decade, and a steady – if unspectacular – defensive, first baseman. In fact, he won Gold Gloves in ’97 and ’98.
In 1999, Palmeiro changed addresses, heading back to Texas, where he would primarily function as the team’s designated-hitter. Still, voters felt compelled to toss him another Gold Glove, despite the fact that he played only 28 games in the field, that season.
Just let that sink in for a minute. If this happened today, in the modern culture of analytics, Tim Kurkjian would light himself on fire.
There is no possible spin or angle, that could make those voters not look completely incompetent. It was perhaps the biggest travesty in sports voting history.