World Series 2011: Ranking 15 Most Surprising World Series MVPs in MLB History

Joe Acampado@@AwesomepadoCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2011

World Series 2011: Ranking 15 Most Surprising World Series MVPs in MLB History

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    The World Series is underway, and it's a historic one with a clear MVP in Albert Pujols as of now.

    However, the series is currently tied, and anything can happen, including having a surprise World Series MVP.

    October is known to bring out the best in players, and we've seen some players bring out their best in surprising ways.

    Here are the 15 most surprising World Series MVPs in MLB history.

15. Larry Sherry, Los Angeles Dodgers 1959

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    Larry Sherry was a rookie in 1959 who started nine games but appeared in 23 games.  Sherry was spectacular, acquiring a 2.19 ERA as a rookie.

    Becoming the World Series MVP is hard enough, but doing it as a rookie is even harder.

    He was amazing in the World Series, only giving up one run in 12.2 innings.  

    However, he could never recapture his rookie season's stats, as he went back and forth between starting and relieving before he ended up as a reliever.

14. Pedro Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers 1981

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    Guerrero was one of three recipients of the World Series MVP in 1981.  That's right, one of three.  Guess choosing the MVP was easier back in 1981.  If there's no clear choice, let's just pick three.

    Anyway, he played 98 games that year with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs.  He eventually grew into his own in the years that followed, but he was never the World Series MVP again.

    His being one of three recipients of the award came as a surprise, as he wasn't necessarily the most famous player or the most covered by the media.

    Guerrero just did his thing and eventually became one of the better hitters of the 80s.  It's just no one probably saw him being the World Series MVP in 1981.

13. Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox 2007

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    Mike Lowell only became a Red Sox because the Marlins insisted they take on his contract if Boston wanted Josh Beckett.

    So Boston said yes, and Lowell bounced back from his last year in Florida to be one of the leading players on the team.

    2007 was probably his best year, but even then, no one would've predicted him to be World Series MVP over David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez.

    Ramirez was on fire in the divisional and championship series.  When the World Series came, however, Lowell was able to step up with his .400 batting average and four RBIs.

12. Johnny Podres, Brooklyn Dodgers 1955

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    In the regular season, Podres went 9-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 27 games, 24 of which he started.

    In the World Series, he went 2-0 in two games, both of which were complete games and one of which was a shutout.  Podres also had an ERA of 1.00 in the World Series.

    There's a case of two different pitchers if I ever saw one.

    Podres was able to turn into a shutdown pitcher for the World Series, earning himself the honors of being the World Series MVP.

11. Gene Tenace, Oakland Athletics 1972

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    You'd be surprised at how hard it is to find a picture of a six-time World Series champion.

    Anyway, Gene Tenace was known as a power hitter, but in 1972, he was far from that.

    He was the backup in the regular season and became the starter only once the postseason began.  His stats in the regular season gave no indication of what type of player he was going to be in October or for the rest of his career.

    Tenace batted .225 with five home runs in 82 games in 1972.  That didn't matter once the postseason started.  It especially didn't matter once the World Series started.

    His numbers for the 1972 World Series: .348 AVG, four HR and nine RBIs, a big difference than the numbers he put up as the backup catcher.

    Not many backup catchers go on to win the starting job in the postseason, let alone become the World Series MVP.

10. David Eckstein, St. Louis Cardinals 2006

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    There aren't too many 5'6" World Series MVPs.  I also don't know of too many World Series MVPs whose defining characteristic is that they're pesky.

    Nothing he did that season would've made anyone predict he'd be the MVP over Pujols.

    Eckstein batted a respectable .292 that year, but only had 23 RBIs, two home runs and 68 runs in 123 games.  Not exactly World Series MVP-type numbers.

    But he was pretty much unstoppable during the World Series, so that had to count for something.

9. Donn Clendenon, New York Mets 1969

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    Clendenon was part of the Amazin' Mets, and he wasn't even the full-time starter.  He split time at first base and was acquired midseason.  

    He wasn't even the full-time starter in the postseason, either.  He didn't appear in the NLCS against the Braves, but played in four of the five World Series Games.

    Clendenon was also prone to strikeouts before joining the Mets and had a .252 batting average and 37 RBI when he joined them for 72 games.

    Those stats don't exactly scream World Series MVP.  Nevertheless, he batted .357 with three home runs to give the Mets the title.

8. Rick Dempsey, Baltimore Orioles 1983

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    A 33 year-old catcher who's known more for his defense than his bat doesn't exactly spell World Series MVP.  

    He's one of the best defensive catchers without a doubt, but World Series MVPs are more renowned for their ability with the bat than the glove.

    Dempsey was a career .233 batter and only had 97 home runs his entire career.  Most people nowadays envision MVPs are power hitters who can tie or break the game with one swing.

    Dempsey was a different kind of MVP by ending up with a .385 batting average and a .923 slugging percentage.  He just wasn't the World Series MVP everybody imagined.

7. Livan Hernandez, Florida Marlins 1997

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    How many rookies end up being the World Series MVP, let alone a rookie who only pitched 17 games that season?

    Sure, Hernandez was spectacular during his time in the majors in his rookie season.  He had a 3.18 ERA and a 9-3 record, but you have to take into account that he still only pitched in 17 games.

    Who knows what would've happened if he spent the entire year in the majors?  Opposing teams might've been able to see enough of him to figure him out, or the length of the season could have tired him out.

    Don't forget that Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield and Moises Alou were also on that team, and they could have been World Series MVP just as easily.

    Let's also not forget that he had a 5.27 ERA with 10 walks in 13.2 innings that World Series.  Kind of makes you wonder what the standard for MVPs was back in 1997.

6. Pat Borders, Toronto Blue Jays 1992

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    Not sure how many non-baseball people will be able to tell you that Pat Borders was the World Series MVP in 1992.  First off, it's nearly 20 years ago, and secondly, it's Pat Borders.

    Nothing against the guy, but when you bat .242 and have an OBP of .290, not many people are going to expect greatness from you come the World Series.

    It wasn't like he had an off-year, either.  He never reached 60 RBIs or 20 home runs, not to mention that he was never an everyday starter once he left the Blue Jays.

    None of that mattered when October came, as he hit .450 to lead the Blue Jays to their first title.

5. Steve Yeager, Los Angeles Dodgers 1981

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    Steve Yeager was one of the three recipients of the World Series MVP in 1981.  

    Yeager was another catcher known for his defense and not his bat.  He did bat .228 for his career.  He also batted .209 in 42 games in 1981.

    It's probably safe to say not many, if any, were expecting Yeager to be the World Series MVP, or at least one of the three winners of the award.

    He did enough in the World Series to convince the voters otherwise, but not enough to convince them to give him the award on his own.

4. Edgar Renteria, San Francisco Giants 2010

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    Renteria only played 72 games that season, but still ended up carrying his offensively-challenged team in the World Series.

    On top of that, the Giants didn't even bring him back for this season. 

    Here's a player who was out of commission for most of the season with three home runs, 22 RBIs and a .272 batting average.  I don't think anyone penciled him in as the World Series MVP when the playoffs started.

    With a batting average of .412 and two momentous home runs in the World Series, he made a claim for that title.  I just remember thinking, "Really, Edgar Renteria is the Giants' best postseason player?"

3. Bobby Richardson, New York Yankees 1960

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    Bobby Richardson was a light-hitting second baseman with a great glove.  In 1960, he batted .252 with one home run and 26 RBI in 150 games.

    Despite that, he was the World Series MVP despite his team losing.  Yeah, wrap your head around that for a second or two.

    To get the World Series MVP and be the losing team, you'd have to do one heck of a job with your bat.  Richardson did just that by batting .367 with 12 RBIs.  He made his hits when they counted the most.

    Richardson would go on to have a reputation as a clutch-hitter, as he continued to rack up hits in the postseason.

2. Ray Knight, New York Mets 1986

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    The funny thing about this World Series MVP is that he wasn't he supposed to be a Met at the season's start.

    The Mets tried to trade him after he batted .218 the previous season, but ended up platooning him at third.

    He was the NL Comeback Player of the Year, but still wasn't posting MVP-type numbers.

    Even in the NLCS, he only batted .167, but he was able to change that in the World Series with some of the most historic hits in postseason history.  Just ask any Red Sox fan, and they'll tell you what kind of hits Knight had in the World Series.

    And this is all from a guy who the team didn't even want at the beginning of the season.

1. Bucky Dent, New York Yankees 1978

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    Here is quite possibly the most surprising World Series MVP ever.

    Bucky Dent is most famous for that home run he hit against the Red Sox to give the Yankees the division title.

    What he's not famous for are his batting statistics, as he only had 40 home runs and batted .247 for his career.

    In 1978 he batted .243 with 40 RBIs in the ninth spot of the order.  Let's not forget who else was on that team: Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and the list goes on.

    Any one of those guys could've been the MVP, but instead, it went to the No. 9 hitter who batted like the No. 4 hitter in the playoffs.  If that's not a surprise, I don't know what is.