The 10 Worst World Series MVPs in Baseball History
Over the years, many of the greatest players in baseball history have won a World Series MVP Award. Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson and Sandy Koufax all won the award, and Reggie Jackson's 1977 win may have been the best hitting performance ever in the big showdown.
There are some players, however, whose names would be forgotten had they not won the award. Those who had otherwise pedestrian careers have become the most unlikely of winners after a dream postseason.
This is the story of those players, the 10 with the worst careers who ended up winning the World Series MVP. Those who are not in the twilight of their careers, such as David Freese, are not eligible for the list.
10. Rick Dempsey
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Rick Dempsey was a 24-year veteran of the game and played catcher primarily for the Baltimore Orioles. He was never more than serviceable, and 1983 was no exception. That year, he hit .231 in 128 games and struggled in the ALCS against the White Sox.
In the World Series against Philadelphia, however, something sparked. He went on a tear, hitting .385. All five of his hits were for extra bases (four doubles and a home run).
The O's only hit .213 as a team, so his offensive prowess came at the perfect time as they won the Series in five games.
9. Ralph Terry
Source: Society for American Baseball Research
Excluding 1962, Ralph Terry had a pedestrian career despite playing on the Yankees. That one year, however, he won 23 of his 107 career games, made both All-Star games and looked ready to defeat the Giants in the World Series.
He did exactly that, and after losing Game 2 despite only allowing two runs, he won Game 5 and pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 7 to win the series for the Yankees.
He dropped back to a .500 pitcher after that, but for that year, he was unstoppable.
8. Ray Knight
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Ray Knight had a nice career with Cincinnati and Houston, making an All-Star team when playing for both, but he had a merely nice 13-year career. Let's face it, people know him simply from the 1986 Mets squad.
Knight hit nearly .300 over the course of the season and earned some MVP votes, but struggled against his former team, Houston, in the NLCS. Against the Red Sox, however, he hit .391, complete with a home run in Game 7 that helped put the game out of reach for Boston.
Surprisingly, that was his last game as a Met, as he played two more years before retiring.
7. Scott Brosius
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The 1998 Yankees were full of big names. Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter were rising stars, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez were in their prime, and Paul O'Neill still had a bit left in him. All could win the World Series MVP, yet it ended up being third baseman Scott Brosius.
Brosius had a decent career with the Athletics before joining New York in 1998. He hit 19 HR and 98 RBI that year and made his only All-Star team. In the postseason, he turned it on, hitting .400 in the ALDS and .300 in the ALCS.
In the World Series, Brosius hit .472 and had two home runs as the Yankees swept the Padres. He made the other Yankees' offensive numbers look like nothing, even though they hit .309 as a team.
6. Bucky Dent
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Bucky Dent and 1978 postseason memories go hand in hand. His home run against the Red Sox is still remembered to the point that his World Series MVP win is almost forgotten.
He did little in 1977 or the 1978 ALCS, so not much was expected in the 1978 World Series. Against the Dodgers, however, he hit .417 and had seven RBI.
Dent actually made two All-Star teams thanks to his defense after his 1978 dream season, so he was able to continue being productive.
5. Donn Clendenon
It's only natural for the 1969 Amazin' Mets to have a representative on this list, given their improbable run. While Tom Seaver or Tommie Agee sound like those who had the best shot at MVP, it was actually Donn Clendenon, the first baseman the Mets got partway through the season.
The 33-year-old hit 12 homers in 72 games, but what mattered were the three home runs he hit against Baltimore in the World Series to go with a .357 average. Two of the three came in one-run games, so he was the deciding factor.
4. Don Larsen
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Don Larsen brings up good memories for Yankee fans, though he only had an 81-91 record in his career. He played well as a spot starter for the Yankees and went 11-5 in 1956.
He struggled in Game 2 of the World Series, allowing four walks and four unearned runs, not even lasting two innings. That was instantly forgotten after Game 5, when he threw the only perfect game and no-hitter in World Series history.
3. Pat Borders
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While Pat Borders had a 17-year career, there were only four in Toronto where he was a full-time catcher. In 1992 he put up nice numbers as the Blue Jays went to the World Series, where most of their roster ended up struggling.
The only one who didn't was Borders, who hit .450 with a home run, three doubles and three RBI. He was easily the World Series MVP, and had a nice postseason the following year as well; his lifetime batting average is .315 in the postseason compared to .253 in his career.
2. Larry Sherry
In 1959, Larry Sherry was a young gun who went 7-2 with a 2.19 ERA who eventually was a longtime reliever for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that year's World Series, his relieving proved to be the difference.
He pitched in four games, won two and had a 0.71 ERA. His 12.2 innings pitched were the most of anyone on the Dodgers. His 5.2 shutout innings in relief of Johnny Podres in Game 6 proved to be the difference-maker.
He spent another decade in baseball, but never again made it to the postseason; for whatever reason he was not on the Dodgers' World Series roster in 1963.
1. Steve Yeager
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The 1981 season was a mess from start to finish. The season was split into two, and somehow there were three separate MVPs for the Dodgers after they won the World Series. The first two, Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero, were entirely deserving.
How Steve Yeager snuck in with them is beyond me. He only played 42 games that season and spent his career as a defensive catcher for Los Angeles. He hit .286 and had two home runs in the series, but the other two had home runs and higher averages.
The World Series MVP is usually spot on, and it's why I did not go that route writing this. The 1981 choice, however, is confusing. It's not that hard to just pick Guerrero or Cey and give them the award.
As for Yeager, he had a much better World Series in 1977 against the Yankees, but they lost. Even so, a .298 average and four homers in the Series is nothing to be ashamed of, even if he shouldn't have won the MVP.