These clubs are missing a major BBWAA award

Carroll ends D-backs' drought

November 14th, 2023

When Corbin Carroll was named the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year, he became the first D-back in franchise history to do so -- in the 25 preceding seasons of D-backs baseball, Wade Miley's second-place in 2012 was the best any player had done.

Despite that first, there are still six franchises that have never won at least one of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s four major end-of-season awards. That continued on Tuesday, when former Brewers manager Craig Counsell -- who just jumped to the Cubs -- finished second in NL Manager of the Year Award voting; a win would have been a first for the Brewers. 

Here is a breakdown of the team-award combos we have yet to see.

Brewers - Manager of the Year
Highest finish: 2nd (Counsell, 2018, ’19, ’21 and '23; Ron Roenicke, 2011; Phil Garner, 1992; Tom Trebelhorn, 1987)

That’s right -- the Brewers have finished second in the AL or NL Manager of the Year Award race a whopping seven times without ever winning. Four of those runner-up finishes have come under Counsell, who came in behind the Braves’ Brian Snitker in 2018, the Cardinals’ Mike Shildt in ’19 (despite nabbing more first-place votes), the Giants’ Gabe Kapler in ’21 and the Marlins' Skip Schumaker in '23. 

The Brewers also might have experienced some bad timing, in that the award debuted in 1983, one year after Harvey Kuenn took over from Buck Rodgers and went 72-43 the rest of the way to lead the club to the AL East crown by one game.

D-backs - MVP
Highest finish: 2nd (Paul Goldschmidt, 2013 and ’15)

Goldschmidt was a nearly annual contender in Arizona but was beaten out by the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen in 2013 and the Nationals’ Bryce Harper in ’15. He also placed third in ’17.

Of course, the D-backs have gotten fewer chances at an MVP Award than most, having not arrived in the NL until 1998. Meanwhile, pitchers have produced many of their top seasons, resulting in five Cy Young Awards -- four by Randy Johnson and one by Brandon Webb.

Mets - MVP
Highest finish: 2nd (Darryl Strawberry, 1988; Keith Hernandez, 1984; Tom Seaver, 1969)

This is probably the most shocking entry on this list. The Mets played their 62nd season in 2023, exist in the country’s largest media market, have enjoyed plenty of successful seasons and employed a number of high-profile players. And yet, no Mets player has won MVP.

Seaver came the closest after going 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA in 1969, getting 11 first-place votes but finishing 22 points behind fellow Hall of Famer Willie McCovey (265-243). Strawberry also finished a close second in 1988, 36 points behind Kirk Gibson (272-236). And if you’re wondering about some other notable Mets, Gary Carter (1986) and Mike Piazza (2000) never placed higher than third with the club, while David Wright’s best finish was fourth (2007).

Rangers - Cy Young
Highest finish: 2nd (Yu Darvish, 2013; Fergie Jenkins, 1974)

Like the Mets, the Rangers have existed for more than 60 years -- including their time as the Washington Senators -- without winning one of the two biggest annual awards. They almost avoided that way back in their third season in Texas, when the Hall of Famer Jenkins went 25-12 with a 2.82 ERA, got 10 first-place votes and lost a tight race to Oakland’s Catfish Hunter (90-75). There haven’t been many close calls since then. While Darvish was runner-up to Max Scherzer in 2013, he didn’t get any first-place votes in a clear-cut race.

Rays - MVP
Highest finish: 6th (Evan Longoria, 2010 and ’13)

The Rays are the only club to not have a top-three finisher in one of these awards. Part of that, of course, is that they are one of the two most recent expansion teams. Another is that they have been more pitching oriented, with two Rays winning Cy Young Awards (David Price in 2012, Blake Snell in ’18). Even when Tampa Bay went to the World Series in 2020, its highest MVP finisher was Brandon Lowe, in eighth place.

Longoria is the best position player in franchise history but still couldn’t crack the top five, even when he posted an 8.2-WAR season in 2010.

Rockies -  Cy Young
Highest finish: 3rd (Ubaldo Jiménez, 2010)

When you consider that Rockies pitchers have to contend with Coors Field, it’s perhaps not a surprise that their 30-year history has not yielded a Cy Young Award winner. Jiménez tamed his home park about as well as anyone, posting a 3.16 ERA over 15 starts there in 2010 and going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA overall. Still, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay ran away with the award that year, snaring all 32 first-place votes. Left-hander Kyle Freeland also made a spirited Cy Young run in 2018 but finished fourth and well behind winner Jacob deGrom.