Going back over all the World Series like this reveals a few fun bits of trivia. For example, from 1919 through 1921, baseball tried out a best-of-seven series. The Cardinals had a pretty good dynasty in the early 40s.
But picking a World Series MVP like this can also be a bit frustrating. Which stats are important? Runs batted in are downplayed these days, as being more the result of opportunity than of talent. But what about the World Series, where every run scoring opportunity takes on vital importance? What do you do when (as in 1950), it’s a short series and no player stands out? How about when the best player is on the losing side? In 1944, George McQuinn led everyone with a .438 average, seven walks, and five runs batted in – but for the losing St Louis Browns….
I guarantee if I do this list again in a few months, I’ll pick an entirely different set of MVPs.
1931: St Louis Cardinals (4) vs Philadelphia Athletics (3)
Pepper Martin hit .500, with five runs scored, five driven in, and five stolen bases.
1932: New York Yankees (4) vs Chicago Cubs (0)
Lou Gehrig hit. 529 with three home runs, nine runs scored, and eight batted in.
1933: New York Giants (4) vs Washington Senators (1)
Carl Hubbell went the distance in both Games 1 and 4 (for a total of 20 innings), without surrendering an earned run.
1934: St Louis Cardinals (4) vs Detroit Tigers (3)
Paul Dean went 2-0 (both complete games) with a 1.00 earned run average – and he drove in what turned out to be the winning run in Game 6.
1935: Detroit Tigers (4) vs Chicago Cubs (2)
Charlie Gehringer hit .375 with three doubles, four runs scored, and four driven in.
1936: New York Yankees (4) vs New York Giants (2)
Outfiedler Jake Powell scored the winning run in Game 3 and hit a game-tying home run in Game 6 on his way to a .455 batting average.
1937: New York Yankees (4) vs New York Giants (1)
Lefty Gomez went all the way to win Games 1 and 5.
1938: New York Yankees (4) vs Chicago Cubs (0)
Frankie Crosetti’s home run won Game 2 for the Yankees, and his two-run triple in the second inning started the scoring for them in Game 4.
1939: New York Yankees (4) vs Cincinnati Reds (0)
Charlie Keller hit three home runs, scored eight, and drove in six while hitting .438
1940: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs Detroit Tigers (3)
Bucky Walters won Games 2 and 6 for the Reds, giving up a total of only eight hits in the two complete games. He also homered in Game 6.
1941: New York Yankees (4) vs Brooklyn Dodgers (1)
Joe Gordon hit .500 with key hits in Games 4 and 5.
1942: St Louis Cardinals (4) vs New York Yankees (1)
Johnny Beasley went all the way both times to win Games 2 and 5.
1943: New York Yankees (4) vs St Louis Cardinals (1)
Spud Chandler gave up only a single earned run while going the distance to win Games 1 and 5.
1944: St Louis Cardinals (4) vs St Louis Browns (2)
Mort Cooper shut out the Browns in Game 5, and collected 16 K’s in as many innings of work.
1945: Detroit Tigers (4) vs Chicago Cubs (3)
Hank Greenberg hit .304, with three doubles and two home runs.
1946: St Louis Cardinals (4) vs Boston Red Sox (3)
Harry Breechen pitched complete game wins in Games 2 and 6, and got the win in relief in Game 7.
1947: New York Yankees (4) vs Brooklyn Dodgers (3)
Spec Shea won Games 1 and 5.
1948: Cleveland Indians (4) vs Boston Braves (2)
Bob Lemon won Games 2 and 6.
1949: New York Yankees (4) vs Brooklyn Dodgers (1)
Joe Page won Game 3 in relief, and earned a save in Game 5.
1950: New York Yankees (4) vs Philadelphia Phillies (0)
Vic Raschi went all the way for the win in Game 1, shutting out the Phillies on just two hits and a walk.
1951: New York Yankees (4) vs New York Giants (2)
Eddie Lopat went the distance in Games 2 and 5, giving up only a single earned run.
1952: New York Yankees (4) vs Brooklyn Dodgers (3)
Mickey Mantle hit key home runs in Games 6 and 7.
1953: New York Yankees (4) vs Brooklyn Dodgers (2)
Billy Martin hit .500 with two home runs and eight batted in.
1954: New York Giants (4) vs Cleveland Indians (0)
Dusty Rhodes won Game 1 with a pinch-hit home run, tied Game 2 with another pinch hit, and put the Giants in the lead with yet another pinch-hit in Game 3.
I’m pretty certain that it was Rhodes’ performance in the 1954 World Series that convinced SPORT Magazine to create the World Series MVP Award the next year……