Top 25 Non-MVP seasons by Reds players

As we sink into the Winter duldrums, let's take a look at the past.  We know the Reds have had some outstanding seasons by players in their history.  They had 3 straight MVP awards from 1938-1940.  They also took home 6 of the 10 MVP awards during the 1970s.  But what about those guys that didn't quite have enough to get them the recognition they deserved?  Or maybe the player who deserved it, but came up just short for some reason.  Who were those guys?

Joe_morgan_76_360_medium

I used Win Shares above Bench to identify the top 25 seasons by Reds players that did not end up winning an MVP award.  WSAB is not the best tool out there, but it's the easiest for me to quickly pull a list like this together.  Since the modern MVP award didn't start until 1931, we'll limit our selection to players since that year. 

1. Frank Robinson - 1962 - 23 Win Shares Above Bench - 39 HR, 136 RBI - .342/.421/.624, 173 OPS+ - 4th in MVP
Robinson won the MVP in 1961 and then put up an even better season in 1962, but somehow finished 4th in the MVP voting.  Maury Wills won the vote mainly because he stole 104 bases, but the award should have gone to either Robinson or Willie Mays, both of whom tied for the MLB lead in Win Shares and WSAB.

2. Joe Morgan - 1973 - 22 WSAB - 26 HR, 82 RBI, 67/15 SB/CS - .290/.406/.493, 154 OPS+ - 4th MVP

3. Joe Morgan - 1972 - 21 WSAB - 16 HR, 73 RBI, 58/17 SB/CS - .292/.417/.435, 149 OPS+ - 4th in MVP

4. Joe Morgan - 1974 - 21 WSAB - 22 HR, 67 RBI, 58/12 SB/CS - .293/.427/.494, 159 OPS+ - 8th in MVP

We all know about Morgan's back-to-back MVP seasons in 1975-1976, but did you realize that he led the NL in WSAB in each season from 1972 to 1976?  Morgan lost the MVP to teammates in 1972 (Bench) and 1973 (Rose), and then finished 8th in 1974 despite the Reds winning 98 games (though they did finish 2nd to the Dodgers).  I think of all of the players from the Big Red Machine, he's the one that I wish I had gotten to see in person.

5. Pete Rose - 1969 - 18 WSAB - 16 HR, 82 RBI - .348/.428/.512, 158 OPS+ - 4th in MVP
Rose finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in 8 of 11 seasons from 1966-1976.  1969 was the only year in his career where he slugged over .500 for the season and his 11 triples and 16 HR both equaled career highs.  Rose finished behind McCovey, Seaver, and Aaron in the MVP voting in 1969.  That's quite a crew.

6. Ted Abernathy - 1967 - 18 WSAB - 6-3, 1.27 ERA, 28 Saves, 106.3 IP, 298 ERA+ - 20th in MVP
As you will find, WSAB may overrate relievers a bit.  Abernathy's season is impressive, but I'm not so sure I'd put it up there with Morgan and Robby.

7. Johnny Bench - 1974 - 16 WSAB - 33 HR, 129 RBI - .280/.363/.507, 143 OPS+ - 4th in MVP
Steve Garvey won the MVP in 1974 despite the fact that Bench had better numbers across the board except for batting average.  The big advantage for Garvey?  The Dodgers won 102 games to the Reds 98.

8. Ted Kluszewski  - 1954 - 16 WSAB - 49 HR, 141 RBI - .326/.407/.642, 167 OPS+ - 2nd in MVP
Big Klu had an incredible season in 1954, and if it weren't for this 23-year old kid just back from military service, he might have won the MVP that season.  Mays didn't match Klu on the counting stats, but his .345/.411/.667, 175 OPS+ was hard to overcome.  In terms of WSAB, Klu was actually 4th in the league that season mainly because his defense at 1B left him short of Mays, Duke Snider, and Eddie Matthews.

9. Barry Larkin - 1992 - 16 WSAB - 12 HR, 78 RBI - .304/.377/.454, 132 OPS+ - 12th in MVP
Despite winning the MVP in 1995, it's arguable that 1992 was Larkin's best season.  He somehow led the team in RBI that year and perhaps if he had had more support around him, the Reds might have been able to catch the Braves.  As for the MVP, nobody was catching Barry Bonds that year.

10. Tony Perez - 1970 - 15 WSAB - 40 HR, 129 RBI - .317/.401/.589, 158 OPS+ - 3rd in MVP
Some may call it fitting, some may call it coincidental, but Perez's best seasons seem to come in years when his teammates were even better.  In 1970, Johnny Bench put up one of the best years ever by a catcher and nearly won the MVP award unanimously (Billy Williams got 2 first place votes to prevent that).  1970 would be the closest that Perez would come to winning the award.

11. Frank Robinson - 1964 - 15 WSAB - 29 HR, 96 RBI - .306/.396/.548, 160 OPS+ - 4th in MVP
12. Tony Perez - 1973 - 15 WSAB - 27 HR, 101 RBI - .314/.393/.527, 159 OPS+, 7th in MVP
13. Vada Pinson - 1961 - 15 WSAB - 16 HR, 87 RBI - .343/.379/.504, 130 OPS+, 3rd in MVP
14. Bucky Walters - 1944 - 15 WSAB - 23-8, 2.40 ERA - 285 IP, 146 ERA+ - 5th in MVP
15. Barry Larkin - 1996 - 15 WSAB - 33 HR, 89 RBI, 36/10 SB/CS - .298/.410/.567, 154 OPS+ - 12th in MVP
16. Eric Davis - 1987 - 15 WSAB - 37 HR, 100 RBI, 50/6 SB/CS - .293/.399/.593, 155 OPS+, 9th in MVP
17. Jeff Shaw - 1997 - 15 WSAB - 4-2, 2.38 ERA, 42 Saves - 94.2 IP, 181 ERA+ - 0 MVP votes
18. John Franco - 1988 - 15 WSAB - 4-8, 1.57 ERA, 32 Saves - 80.2 IP, 229 ERA+ - 12th in MVP
19. Bucky Walters - 1940 - 14 WSAB - 22-10, 2.48 ERA - 305 IP, 154 ERA+ - 3rd in MVP
20. Adam Dunn - 2004 - 14 WSAB - 46 HR, 102 RBI - .266/.388/.569, 146 OPS+ - 28th in MVP
21. Pete Rose - 1968 - 14 WSAB - 10 HR, 49 RBI - .335/.391/.470, 152 OPS+ - 2nd in MVP
22. Johnny Bench - 1975 - 14 WSAB - 28 HR, 110 RBI - .283/.359/.519, 140 OPS+ - 4th in MVP
23. Sean Casey - 2004 - 14 WSAB - 24 HR, 99 RBI - .324/.381/.534, 136 OPS+ - 0 MVP votes
24. Pete Rose - 1972 - 13 WSAB - 6 HR, 57 RBI - .307/.382/.417, 134 OPS+ -12th in MVP
25. Bernie Carbo - 1970 - 13 WSAB - 21 HR, 63 RBI - .310/.454/.551, 164 OPS+ - 0 MVP votes, 2nd in Rookie of the Year

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