Ted Williams: Wins Triple Crown...Loses MVP
One of the more difficult feats to achieve in baseball is the batting Triple Crown. Leading the league in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average in the same season serves as a testament of what it means to be a truly great hitter. In recent years, a few players, including Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Manny Ramirez have led these categories in different seasons. Not since Carl Yazstrzemski, back in 1967, has anyone accomplished it during the same season.
Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice in 1942 and 1947 joining only Rogers Hornsby as the only other two time winner. Apart from the rarity of these feats, what is more remarkable is the fact that Williams didn't win the MVP in either campaign. That sounds almost too incredible to believe. It wasn't unprecedented for a Triple Crown winner to not win the MVP the same season. Prior to 1942, it had happened twice. In 1922, Hornsby won the Triple Crown, however no MVP award was given that year. Also in 1933, Lou Gehrig lost the MVP to pitcher Carl Hubbell despite his Triple Crown nod. Williams stands out as having won Triple Crowns and losing the MVP to other hitters. Here are the split stats of Ted Williams compared to the MVP award winners in 1942 and 1947 (Joe Gordon and Joe Dimaggio respectively).
Joe Gordon -88 R, 18 HR, 103 RBI, .322 Avg, 173 H, 29 2B, .409 OB
Ted Williams -141 R, 36 HR, 137 RBI, .356 Avg, 186 H, 34 2B, .499 OB
Joe Dimaggio- 97 R, 20 HR, 97 RBI, .315 Avg, 168 H, 31 2B, .391 OB
Ted Williams- 125 R, 32 HR, 114 RBI, .343 Avg, 181 H, 40 2B, .499 OB
It's not even close in either season. Williams bested the eventual winner in nearly every offensive category, yet still lost. The Yankees won the pennant in both years, giving a leg up to both Gordon and Dimaggio. However, the MVP award is supposed to be the player that is "most valuable" to their team. The player without which the team would fall apart. In 1942, Gordon, a Hall of Famer himself, had fellow Hall members Bill Dickey, Phil Rizzuto, and Joe Dimaggio on his team. Likewise, in '47, Dimaggio still had Rizzuto and Berra. In both seasons, Williams had only Bobby Doerr to back him up.
Ted Williams did eventually win 2 MVP Awards in his career, albeit with lesser numbers than the two above that he deserved. He finished second a remarkable four additional times. In my opinion, those figures should be reversed; he should have 4 wins and 2 runner up finishes.