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Most Valuable Player
Hypothetical Winners, 1900-1919

The modern Most Valuable Player Award was established by Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1931. It is officially the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Award since the death of Commissioner Landis in 1944, but no one knows that. The AL named its own MVP 1922-28; the NL did so 1924-29. Chalmers Motor Company sponsored an award for each league, selected by writers (see the Chalmers panel and detail vote). It is now recognized as an MVP award.

Bill Deane selected "hypothetical" winners beginning in 1900, for Total Baseball (1989). He "felt a certain responsibility to make my selections consistent with the perceptions and voting trends of a particular era. . . . they are the ones which can be best justified with the available evidence." Between editions 2 and 3, 1991-93, he revised one selection.

STATS, Inc., selected "retroactive" annual award winners from 1876, for The All-Time Major League Baseball Sourcebook (1998) . "We didn't try to guess what the voting trends might have been in a particular era. We concentrated on individual statistics (offensive and defensive) and team performance."

Notes continue below the tables.

Hypothetical and official MVP Awards, 1900-19

      -  means that modern selectors disagree

Selector Bill Deane            STATS, Inc.           contemporary
         TB 1989               1998                  writers

Federal League
1914F    Kauff RF-Ind          Kauff 
1915F -  Zwilling CF-Chi       Kauff CF-Bkn

American League
1901A    Lajoie 2B-Phi         Lajoie
1902A -  Young P-Bos           Delahanty LF-Was
1903A    Lajoie 2B-Cle         Lajoie
1904A    Chesbro P-NY          Chesbro
1905A    Waddell P-Phi         Waddell
1906A -  Lajoie 2B-Cle         Stone LF-SL
1907A    Cobb RF-Det           Cobb
1908A    Walsh P-Chi           Walsh
1909A    Cobb CF-Det           Cobb
1910A -  Coombs P-Phi          Cobb CF-Det
         Chalmers Award, 1911-14, selected by eight baseball writers
1911A    (Chalmers panel and detail vote)            Cobb CF-Det
1912A                                                Speaker CF-Bos 
1913A                                                Johnson P-Was
1914A                                                Collins 2B-Phi
1915A -  Collins 2B-Chi        Cobb CF-Det
1916A    Speaker CF-Cle        Speaker
1917A -  Cicotte P-Chi         Cobb CF-Det
1918A    Ruth P-Bos            Ruth
1919A -  Jackson LF-Chi        Ruth LF-Bos

National League
1900N    Wagner U-Pit       
1901N    Wagner RF-Pit         Wagner
1902N    Wagner RF-Pit         Wagner
1903N    Wagner SS-Pit         Wagner
1904N -  McGinnity P-NY        Wagner SS-Pit
1905N    Mathewson P-NY        Mathewson
1906N -  Chance 1B-Chi (TB3)   Chance
         Steinfeldt 3B-Chi (TB2)
1907N    Wagner SS-Pit         Wagner
1908N    Mathewson P-NY        Mathewson
1909N    Wagner SS-Pit         Wagner
1910N    Magee LF-Phi          Magee
         Chalmers Award, 1911-14, selected by eight baseball writers 
1911N    (Chalmers panel and detail vote)            Schulte RF-Chi
1912N                                                Doyle 2B-NY    
1913N                                                Daubert 1B-Bkn
1914N                                                Evers 2B-Bos
1915N    Alexander P-Phi       Alexander
1916N    Alexander P-Phi       Alexander
1917N -  Alexander P-Phi       Hornsby SS-SL
1918N    Vaughn P-Chi          Vaughn
1919N -  Roush CF-Cin          Groh 3B-Cin

Elector  Bill Deane            STATS, Inc.           contemporary
         TB 1989               1998                  writers

Scope. Bill Deane's selections begin with the National League in 1900, one year before the founding of the American League and the advent of the "Deadball Era" as it defines the Deadball Era Research Committee, SABR. He includes the Federal League in 1914-15 and I have included those selections here.
The STATS selections begin in 1876, the first National League season. Visit "MVP" winners, 1876-1900 for a similar presentation of the 19th century winners.

Position. Deadball first- and third-basemen handled many bunts and were second-rate batters by contemporary standards, not to mention modern standards. Deadball catchers commonly played only half of the games. On the other hand, Deadball pitchers carried heavy workloads and achieved statistical wonders by modern standards. Such historical changes underlie the remarkable distribution of hypothetical/retroactive MVPs by position.

             P  C : 1B 2B SS 3B : LF CF RF  += sum
Chalmers     1       1  3             2  1  +=  8
Deane/TB    14       1  4  3       2  4  5  += 33
STATS        9       1  2  5  1    4  6  4  += 32  
Here Honus Wagner is a rightfielder, 1900-02, and Frank Chance is Deane's selection for NL1906 (revised from Harry Steinfeldt).

First-Place MVPs. Players on pennant-winning teams won 4 of 8 Chalmers Awards, 19 of 33 MVPs named by Bill Deane, 14 of 33 named by STATS.

Repeat MVPs. Bill Deane named Honus Wagner MVP six times (including four in a row), Grover Cleveland Alexander three, Nap Lajoie three. STATS named Wagner six times, Ty Cobb five. Cobb won two Deanes and one Chalmers or five STATS and one Chalmers.
Among the early winners, Lajoie was first a strong candidate in 1901, Wagner in 1900. Cy Young ranks 1-2-2-2-4-*-3-2 in the 1892-99 National League by "Total Baseball Rating" (* not in the top five, 1897).

Acknowledgments. STATS, Inc., The All-Time Major League Baseball Sourcebook (1998). See Bill Deane, "Awards and Honors", Total Baseball (any edition), for his entire hypothetical MVPs or for more history of the official MVP awards.

Last modified: 2005-06-06 (linked with 19c page)
Paul Wendt
© Society for American Baseball Research, 2001, 2005