With more important things going on, a lot of players – stars and regulars (e.g. Bob Feller) found themselves working for Uncle Sam in some way. Baseball as a whole had to make compromises in order to keep going. So for the next few years, there will be some unusual names popping up. Doesn’t mean they didn’t deserve the honor, though.
AL: The Yankees’ “Tiny” Bonham was second in wins to Boston’s Tex Hughson (21-5 to 22-6) and second in ERA to Chicago’s Ted Lyons (2.27 to 2.10). He did lead the league in WHIP (0.987) and shutouts (6).
NL: Not much of a contest here. The Cardinal’s Mort Cooper went 22-7 with a 1.78 ERA, both of which led the league.
AL: Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler of the Yankees tied for the league lead in wins and led the majors in ERA (20-4, 1.64). Tying him for wins was the Tigers’ Dizzy Trout (20-12), but his ERA wasn’t close (2.48)
NL: Max Lanier of the Cardinals led the league in ERA (1.90), but his teammate Mort Cooper had a much better record (21-8 to 15-7) to get his second straight honor.
AL: The Tigers’ Dizzy Trout (27-14, 2.12 ERA) and Hal Newhouser (29-9, 2.22) would fight it out, but Newhouser’s greater strikeout total (187 to 144) in forty fewer innings get him the honor.
NL: A toss-up between the Reds’ Bucky Walters (23-8, 2.40) and Cardinals’ Mort Cooper (22-7, 2.42). My coin came up Walters.
AL: Hal Newhouser led the majors in wins, ERA, and strikeouts (25-9, 1.81, 212). No contest.
NL: Red Barrett spent time with the Braves and the Cardinals, compiling a 23-12 record with a 3.00 ERA. Splitting his time like that didn’t stop him from coming in third in the MVP voting. The Cubs’ Hank Wyse (22-10, 2.68) would pick up a few votes.
AL: Hal Newhouser (26-9, 1.94 ERA, 275 K’s) and Bob Feller (26-15, 2.18, 348 K’s) split the vote, but Newhouser comes out on top.
NL: Howie Pollet of the Cardinals led the league in wins and ERA (21-10, 2.10). The Braves’ Johnny Sain (20-14, 2.21) might have gotten a few votes.
AL: Bob Feller led the league in wins (20-11) and the majors in strikeouts (196) and finished second in ERA in the league (2.68) to the White Sox’ Joe Haynes (2.42)
NL: A close vote between the Reds’ Ewell Blackwell (22-8, 2.47 ERA) and the Braves’ Warren Spahn (21-10, 2.33 ERA). Blackwell led the league in strikeouts, so he gets the honor. The Dodger’s Ralph Branca (21-12, 2.67 ERA) would have picked up some “down ballot” votes.
AL: One of the closest “races” we’ve seen in a while. The Tigers’ Hal Newhouser (21-12, 3.01 ERA), and the Indians’ Bob Lemon (20-14, 2.81 ERA) and Gene Bearden (20-7, 2.41 ERA) would all have a valid case. Since Lemon did the best out of the three in that year’s MVP voting, we’ll give it to him.
NL: Harry Breechen of the Cardinals went 20-7 with a major-league leading 2.24 ERA, but Johnny Sain went 24-15, leading the majors in wins, starts, complete games, and innings pitched – while keeping his ERA down to 2.60. That was good enough for second place to Stan Musial in the MVP vote.
AL: The Red Sox’ Mel Parnell led the majors in wins with a 25-7 record, and the league with a 2.77 ERA. Bob Lemon’s 22-10 record with a 2.99 ERA is good enough for second.
NL: Warren Spahn (21-14, 3.07 ERA, 302.1 innings pitched (leading the majors)) edges out Howie Pollet (20-9, 2.77 ERA).
AL: Bob Lemon led the majors in wins (23-11) and the league in strikeouts (170), but his era of 3.84 would have opened the door for Cleveland’s Early Wynn (18-8, 3.20 ERA) to pick up a substantial number of votes.
NL: This year was a mess in the Senior Circuit. For some reason, the Phillies’ reliever Jim Konstanty won the MVP award. He led the majors in appearances (74) and saves (22), helping his team win their first pennant in decades. A 16-7 record certainly helped. But for our purposes, what about the Giants’ Sal Maglie (18-4, and an ERA of 2.71 to lead the majors), the Braves’ Warren Spahn (21-7, 3.16 ERA), or even his own teammate Robin Roberts (20-10, 3.02 ERA)?
AL: Bob Feller went 22-8, but his ERA was 3.50. Eddie Lopat of the Yankees went 21-9 with a 2.91 ERA. Only Saul Rogovin, who split time between the Tigers and White Sox, had a better ERA in the league (while only going 12-8 and being less/fewer in other key stats like Starts, Innings Pitched, WHIP, and Strikeouts), so my vote goes to “Steady Eddie”…..
NL: A three-way battle between Sal Maglie (23-6, 2.93 ERA), Robin Roberts (21-15, 3.03 ERA), and Warren Spahn (22-14, 2.98 ERA). They were close in pretty much every other stat; even bWAR is uncomfortably close (6.6, 8.0, and 7.7, respectively). But since he did do the best in the MVP voting, and the Giants did win the pennant, I’m going to vote for “The Barber”.
AL: This would be a really close vote, with several good choices. The Yankees’ Allie Reynolds led the majors in ERA with 2.06 while compiling a 20-8 record and an AL-leading 160 strikeouts. The Indians’ Mike Garcia was second in ERA with 2.36; he went 22-11 for the Tribe. Bobby Shantz of the A’s was third in the AL in ERA with 2.48 while going 24-7 for a team that finished only four games above .500 – that was good enough for the MVP, so it’s good enough for a Cy Young.
NL: Robin Roberts went 28-7 with a 2.59 ERA. He led the majors in innings pitched with 330.0, too. I don’t see anyone else with a chance to win the award.
AL: If wins are your thing, Mel Parnell of the Red Sox went 21-8 with a 3.06 ERA, Bob Porterfield of the Senators went 22-10 with a 3.35 ERA, and Bob Lemon of the Indians went 21-15 with a 3.36 ERA. If ERA is your top stat, you’ll prefer the Yankees’ Eddie Lopat (16-4, 2.42 ERA) and the White Sox’ Billy Pierce (18-12, 2.72 ERA). I’ll vote for Pierce, since he led the league in strikeouts (186, also the league best in K/9 with 6.2).
NL: Warren Spahn (23-7, 2.10 ERA, 148 K’s) and Robin Roberts (23-16, 2.75 ERA, 198 K’s) battle for the award. They even finished fifth and sixth in the MVP voting, so that’s not much help. Roberts led it WAR – 9.9 to 9.1 – closer than you’d think. I’ll give a SLIGHT edge to Roberts, but you can’t argue with anyone voting for Spahn.
AL: The Cleveland Indians won ALL the games this year. It’s no surprise they had the top three contenders for this honor. Mike Garcia (19-8, 2.64 ERA, 129 Ks) led the league in ERA. Bob Lemon (23-7, 2.72 ERA, 110 Ks) tied for the lead in wins with Early Wynn (23-11, 2.73 ERA, 155 Ks). Modern voters might give the nod to Garcia, since he led in all the important “rate” stats (ERA+, WHIP, FIP….). Early Wynn had the most WAR of the trio with 5.5. But Bob Lemon led them all in the MVP voting, earning five first place votes. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
NL: Robin Roberts was his usual excellent self (23-15, 2.97 ERA, 29 (!!!!) complete games), but Johnny Antonelli of the Giants was even better (21-7, 2.30 ERA), enough for third in the MVP voting.
AL: Whitey Ford of the Yankees went 18-7 with a 2.63 ERA, but Billy Pierce of the White Sox had an incredible 1.97 (!!!) ERA to lead the majors. Somehow, he finished up with only a 15-10 record.
NL: It’s a two-man race between Robin Roberts (23-14, 3.28 ERA, 160 Ks) and the Dodger’s Don Newcombe (20-7, 3.20 ERA, 143 Ks). Roberts did a little better in the MVP voting and was better in WAR….
In 1956, they started giving out the Cy Young Award – but only one for both leagues. I’m not going to discuss the actual winners.