This year's MVP winners presented a unique disparity in height. In fact, since the Baseball Writers Association of America began awarding the MVP, no winner had been taller than Giancarlo Stanton at 6-foot-6 or shorter than Jose Altuve at 5-foot-6.In light of the disproportion, MLB Network conducted a mock draft
This year's MVP winners presented a unique disparity in height. In fact, since the Baseball Writers Association of America began awarding the MVP, no winner had been taller than Giancarlo Stanton at 6-foot-6 or shorter than Jose Altuve at 5-foot-6.
In light of the disproportion, MLB Network conducted a mock draft selecting the best players at each inch within that range, extending to 6-foot-7 to include a class featuring American League MVP runner-up Aaron Judge. Drafting was conducted by MLB Network analysts Tom Verducci and Ron Darling.
Here are the results -- winner listed first followed by the runners-up, listed alphabetically -- with insight from those who made the picks (selections marked in bold, indicates Hall of Famer):
"I took him over Hack Wilson," Verducci said of Altuve. "Hack, he was a great hitter back in the day -- record 191 RBIs that one season -- but he had some issues off the field. He didn't have a long career. Altuve, perfect all-around player for this pick."
John McGraw* (HOF as manager)
"I'm totally biased in my pick," Darling said. "I'm going to take Morgan, the first hitter I faced in the Major Leagues. Two MVP seasons back to back in 1975 and '76, when he was the most important player on that Big Red Machine."
"This is a tough one. I got Hall of Famers on there," Verducci said. "I'm going with the guy whose number is actually retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates, No. 11, Big Poison, Paul Waner. Yeah, that's right. A career .333 hitter, member of the 3,000-hit club, he won an MVP, three batting titles … I love the nickname, too."
"I always had a fascination with a smaller man who has big power," Darling said. "In one of his seasons, 1927, [Ott] hit 42 home runs, had 151 RBIs, 647 plate appearances and 38 strikeouts."
"I'm still deciding. That's how close it is," Verducci said. "Rickey Henderson is one of my all-time favorite players, but I've got to go with the "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays. Listen, baseball, to me, if you talk about the soundtrack to baseball before Mays, you'd probably choose classical music. He came along, it became jazz. Improvisational baseball. Maybe not textbook swing, but boy, watching this guy swing the bat and run the bases, you were watching poetry in motion."
"Ten seasons of 200 hits or more, Charlie Hustle gets my vote," Darling said.
"I can't believe I'm picking someone other than Lou Gehrig -- greatest first baseman of all-time -- but yeah, Mr. Consistency," Verducci said. "Hank Aaron did it all. I marvel when I look at his career numbers, how long he did it at an elite level."
"He got to a point later in his career when the science of hitting was the best I've ever seen," said Darling, who gave up Bonds' second career homer in 1986. "Barry Bonds, one of the best to put on spikes."
"Six-foot-2 back in the '20s and '30s, you were pretty much like the equivalent of Giancarlo Stanton today," Verducci said. "Six-foot-2, that was Babe Ruth. Of course I'm going with Ruth. I know there are a lot of great players here at 6-foot-2, but there was only one Babe. I would've loved to cover this guy back in the day."
Ken Griffey Jr.*
"I considered more than just numbers. All right, 521 home runs, hit .406 in 1941, but more than that, can you imagine what his numbers would've been like if he didn't miss three entire seasons for World War II and parts of some seasons for the Korean War?" Darling said.
Cal Ripken Jr.*
"A guy at shortstop at 6-foot-4 revolutionized the game at that height at that position," Verducci said. "That's my pick, Ripken. I came close to Cabrera, love his offensive abilities, but this guy [Ripken] being able to be a power hitter at the shortstop position. OK, we take it for granted now with guys like [Corey] Seager, but Cal was the original model when it came to the big athlete playing the premier infield position."
"He was one of the first giants who was a five-tool player," Darling said. "He could do it all -- steal, throw, field, power and hit for average."
"I'm going with the one Hall of Famer at this height," Verducci said. "The biggest, as far as position players go, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. He knows a thing or two about drafts. This guy was drafted in three sports by four different teams. Good thing he chose baseball, right? He was pretty good at this game. I used to love to watch this guy run the bases. He would get from first to third in about five steps."
"You have to go with what's happening right now," Darling said. "The 6-foot-7 Judge, who is just unbelievable. … Judge has the chance to do some damage and have a baseball card like you've never seen before if he continues to have the kind of season that he had this year."
5-foot-6: Jose Altuve
5-foot-7: Joe Morgan
5-foot-8: Paul Waner
5-foot-9: Mel Ott
5-foot-10: Paul Waner
5-foot-11: Pete Rose
6-foot: Hank Aaron
6-foot-1: Barry Bonds
6-foot-2: Babe Ruth
6-foot-3: Ted Williams
6-foot-4: Cal Ripken Jr.
6-foot-5: Dave Parker
6-foot-6: Dave Winfield
6-foot-7: Aaron Judge
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.