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Picking an MVP for every Division Series

@williamfleitch
October 11, 2019

As you might have noticed, there has never been an MVP award for the Division Series. Fear not, we can give one out for all of them, right now! There’s nothing wrong with an extra trophy or two lying around, and besides, it would give us one more thing to

As you might have noticed, there has never been an MVP award for the Division Series. Fear not, we can give one out for all of them, right now! There’s nothing wrong with an extra trophy or two lying around, and besides, it would give us one more thing to yell at each other online about. We could always use that.

So, for the sake of facilitating angry online discussion, we’re choosing an MVP from every DS since 1995, the year they began. (We’re not counting the 1981 Division Series, but if you really want some: Dave Righetti, Dwayne Murphy, Gary Carter and Fernando Valenzuela.) We would love to make little trophies to give all these players, retroactively, but for now, this column will have to do.

Oh, by the way: We’re only picking MVPs from the winning teams. It’s a five-game series: We require a winner for this award.

2019

Yankees over Twins, 3-0
MVP:
Gleyber Torres. A homer, .417, two steals and breathtaking infield defense.

Nationals over Dodgers, 3-2
MVP:
Stephen Strasburg. So many to choose from here, including Max Schezer, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon. But we’ll go with the guy who started two of the team’s three wins, striking out 17 batters to go with one walk and four runs allowed in 12 innings.

Cardinals over Braves, 3-2
MVP:
Paul Goldschmidt. He and Marcell Ozuna had nearly identical stat lines … but Goldschmidt’s key defensive plays push him just past The Big Bear.

Astros over Rays, 3-2
MVP:
Gerrit Cole. The Rays were plucky and totally game to take out the 107-game winners ... but Cole stood in the way every time they tried to make a charge.

2018

Red Sox over Yankees, 3-1
MVP:
Nathan Eovaldi. People don’t remember that this was the start of what Eovaldi would be doing the whole postseason. He got the win in Game 3 while allowing one run over seven innings.

Astros over Indians, 3-0
MVP:
Alex Bregman. He went 5-for-9 with two homers. It was a very short series.

Brewers over Rockies, 3-0
MVP:
Corbin Burnes. The Brewers won this series because of their relievers, and Burnes threw more scoreless innings (four) than any of them, including Josh Hader.

Dodgers over Braves, 3-1
MVP:
Clayton Kershaw. We’re going to give him one of these, if just so you’ll get off his back. And if you don’t remember, he threw eight shutout innings in a Game 2 win, allowing just two hits. For all of his infamous postseason moments, he’s had some great ones, too.

2017

Yankees over Indians, 3-2
MVP:
Aroldis Chapman. A year after running out of gas against the Indians in the World Series, he wiped them out over three games in this series.

Astros over Red Sox, 3-1
MVP:
José Altuve. He hit .533 and smashed three homers.

Dodgers over D-backs, 3-0
MVP:
Yasiel Puig. The quietest, quickest series ever, which is why no one remembers how wonderful Puig was (1.266 OPS!).

Cubs over Nationals, 3-2
MVP:
Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs won both his starts, a Game 1 shutout and the decisive Game 5.

2016

Blue Jays over Rangers, 3-0
MVP:
Edwin Encarnacion. The parrot met a national audience that October.

Indians over Red Sox, 3-0
MVP:
José Ramírez. Before the rest of the planet knew who Ramirez was, he was hitting .500 in the ALDS.

Cubs over Giants, 3-1
MVP:
Jon Lester. A series that was tighter than people remember led off with Lester winning a 1-0 pitchers' duel with Johnny Cueto.

Dodgers over Nationals, 3-2
MVP:
Justin Turner. Despite Kershaw's heroics in Game 5, he did have a 5.84 ERA this series. So let's give it to Turner, who hit .400 with a homer.

2015

Royals over Astros, 3-2
MVP:
Wade Davis. This Royals bullpen was overwhelming both this year and the year before.

Blue Jays over Rangers, 3-2
MVP:
José Bautista. He’s staring at us right now and flipping the bat in another direction, so we’re obviously giving this to him, we don’t want any trouble.

Cubs over Cardinals, 3-1
MVP:
Kyle Schwarber. His home run atop the new scoreboard in Game 4 will live forever in Cubs lore.

Mets over Dodgers, 3-2
MVP:
Daniel Murphy. This postseason would introduce everyone to the Daniel Murphy Experience, and he would go on an 18-month run where he was about as good as any hitter in the game.

2014

Royals over Angels, 3-0
MVP:
Eric Hosmer. Mike Trout went 1-for-12 in this series, which remains his only postseason appearance.

Orioles over Tigers, 3-0
MVP:
Nelson Cruz. Sort of weird that Bud Norris was another option here.

Giants over Nationals, 3-1
MVP:
Brandon Belt. The 18th-inning Game 2 homer is probably enough to get him this on its own.

Cardinals over Dodgers, 3-1
MVP:
Matt Carpenter. He was a terror this whole series … and he continued to cause Kershaw so many headaches.

2013

Red Sox over Rays, 3-1
MVP:
David Ortiz. .385/.556/.923 slash line, no big deal.

Tigers over A’s, 3-2
MVP:
Justin Verlander. Fifteen shutout innings -- a third of the Tigers’ innings the whole series -- will do the trick.

Cardinals over Pirates, 3-2
MVP:
Adam Wainwright. Michael Wacha almost threw a no-hitter this series, but Wainwright was the true genius, winning two games and giving up a total of just two runs in 16 innings.

Dodgers over Braves, 3-1
MVP:
Hanley Ramirez. Until he got hit on the hand in the NLCS, Ramirez was the hottest this postseason as he ever was his entire career.

2012

Yankees over Orioles, 3-2
MVP:
CC Sabathia. CC won two of the three games, including the decisive Game 5.

Tigers over A’s, 3-2
MVP:
Justin Verlander. He gave up one run in 16 innings, winning both his starts.

Cardinals over Nationals, 3-2
MVP:
Carlos Beltrán. It’s OK if you want to put Pete Kozma here.

Giants over Reds, 3-2
MVP:
Sergio Romo. A wild series, one the Giants came back from 2-0 down to win. Romo closed out all three Giants wins, allowing one run over 4 1/3 innings.

2011

Tigers over Yankees, 3-2
MVP:
Max Scherzer. This was right when he was starting to turn into Max Scherzer.

Rangers over Rays, 3-1
MVP:
Adrian Beltre. Three homers for the future Hall of Famer here. And there would be more to come.

Cardinals over Phillies, 3-2
MVP:
Chris Carpenter. His Game 5 shutout to beat Roy Halladay remains one of the best pitched games in NLDS history.

Brewers over D-backs, 3-2
MVP:
Ryan Braun. Everyone still loved Ryan Braun back then, and when you hit .500 for a series, why wouldn’t they?

2010

Rangers over Rays, 3-2
MVP:
Cliff Lee. Two wins, two earned runs in 16 innings.

Yankees over Twins, 3-0
MVP:
Mariano Rivera. All three games finished, 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

Phillies over Reds, 3-0
MVP:
Roy Halladay. A no-hitter will get you one of these trophies every time.

Giants over Braves, 3-1
MVP:
Tim Lincecum. His Game 1 shutout, in a 1-0 victory, set the tone for the whole series.

2009

Yankees over Twins, 3-0
MVP:
Alex Rodriguez. He flipped the “postseason choker” narrative on its head this series, hitting .455 with two homers, including a game-tying blast off Twins closer Joe Nathan -- who was unhittable that year -- in Game 2. Oh, and the Yankees went on to win the World Series.

Angels over Red Sox, 3-0
MVP:
John Lackey. He’d get a chance to make it up to the Red Sox later.

Dodgers over Cardinals, 3-0
MVP:
Andre Ethier. You could also make the argument that the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday, who dropped a fly ball that would have won Game 3, could have been the MVP here too.

Phillies over Rockies, 3-1
MVP:
Jayson Werth. Werth was always an underrated force in the postseason.

2008

Red Sox over Angels, 3-1
MVP:
Jason Bay. There was a time that Bay looked like the best outfielder in baseball, you know. He hit .412 with two homers this series.

Rays over White Sox, 3-1
MVP:
B.J. Upton. Whatever his name was at the time, or what it is now, he shone in this series, hitting three homers in four games.

Dodgers over Cubs, 3-0
MVP:
Manny Ramirez. Remember Mannywood? This was a fun time.

Phillies over Brewers, 3-1
MVP:
Cole Hamels. Hamels is the only person on this list who would have won all three postseason trophies in the same year.

2007

Red Sox over Angels, 3-0
MVP:
David Ortiz. He had as many homers (two) as he did outs this series.

Indians over Yankees, 3-1
MVP:
Jhonny Peralta. The real MVP of this series might have been the midges.

D-backs over Cubs, 3-0
MVP:
Stephen Drew. Yep, Drew was amazing this series. Stephen Drew!

Rockies over Phillies, 3-0
MVP:
Kazuo Matsui. He had six RBIs, five hits and two triples.

2006

Tigers over Yankees, 3-1
MVP:
Carlos Guillen. He might have actually been the best player in the postseason for the Tigers that year. He hit .571 in this series.

A’s over Twins, 3-0
MVP:
Frank Thomas. Hey, Big Hurt! He had two solo homers and hit .500 as a DH in the twilight of his career.

Cardinals over Padres, 3-1
MVP:
Chris Carpenter. He won two of the three games of the series for a team that famously won only 83 regular season games.

Mets over Dodgers, 3-0
MVP:
Carlos Delgado. Remember how great Delgado was there for a while? He looked like a Mets legend waiting to happen. He hit .429 with a homer in this sweep.

2005

White Sox over Red Sox, 3-0
MVP:
A.J. Pierzynski. He might have driven you crazy, but he became a White Sox legend this whole October.

Angels over Yankees, 3-2
MVP:
Bengie Molina. He had three homers this series, and hit .444.

Cardinals over Padres, 3-0
MVP:
Albert Pujols. This was the zenith of Pujols’ prime; he had a Bonds-ian .692 OBP this series.

Astros over Braves, 3-1
MVP:
Lance Berkman. He was still seven years away from his biggest postseason moment (a game-tying single in extra innings for the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series), but he was a monster this series.

2004

Red Sox over Angels, 3-0
MVP:
David Ortiz. One homer, six hits, .545 average … Ortiz was just getting started.

Yankees over Twins, 3-1
MVP:
Alex Rodriguez. This series included the last postseason game the Twins won, Game 1, behind Johan Santana. A-Rod reached base safely 10 times in four games.

Cardinals over Dodgers, 3-1
MVP:
Larry Walker. Walker was an August trade acquisition and knocked the Dodgers out both at bat and in the field.

Astros over Braves, 3-2
MVP:
Carlos Beltrán. Beltran deserved MVP of every series, in every sport, that year.

2003

Yankees over Twins, 3-1
MVP:
Derek Jeter. He hit .429 with a homer for the series.

Red Sox over A’s, 3-2
MVP:
Derek Lowe. Lowe was whatever the Red Sox needed him to be this series, starting one game and finishing two. It would be the start of a new career for him.

Marlins over Giants, 3-1
MVP:
Ivan Rodriguez. He was the soul of this Marlins team, and he started showing it here. Who can forget a “walk-off” out at home plate?

Cubs over Braves, 3-2
MVP:
Kerry Wood. He won two of the three games: Mark Prior, of course, won the other one.

2002

Angels over Yankees, 3-1
MVP:
Troy Glaus. Remember when Glaus seemed like the most powerful home run hitter on the planet? He had three homers in this series.

Twins over A’s, 3-2
MVP:
Brad Radke. He won two of the three games and had a 1.54 ERA. Remember when the Twins won postseason games?

Giants over Braves, 3-2
MVP:
Barry Bonds. Early in his career, while with the Pirates, Bonds was considered an October choker. But with the Giants, he was awesome. In fact, this was actually Bonds’ worst postseason series with San Francisco … and he was still better than everyone else, homering three times.

Cardinals over D-backs, 3-0
MVP:
Matt Morris. Morris got revenge after barely losing to Schilling and the D-backs in five games the year earlier.

2001

Mariners over Indians, 3-2
MVP:
Ichiro Suzuki. Oh, he only batted .600 for the five-game series, no big deal.

Yankees over A’s, 3-2
MVP:
Derek Jeter. He hit .444 for the series, and there was of course the flip play.

Braves over Astros, 3-0
MVP:
Chipper Jones. John Smoltz was closing at this point, so we decided not to split this one three ways this time.

D-backs over Cardinals, 3-2
MVP:
Curt Schilling. This would be the start of a magical postseason for Schilling, who won two games, pitching 18 innings and giving up only one run.

2000

Yankees over A’s, 3-2
MVP:
Mariano Rivera. In a tough, taut series, Rivera was the only real difference between the teams: three appearances, five IP, zero runs.

Mariners over White Sox, 3-0
MVP:
Edgar Martinez. Let’s give him the MVP he probably deserved in 1995. He hit .364 with a homer and two walks.

Cardinals over Braves, 3-0
MVP:
Jim Edmonds. Jimmy Baseball had just come over to the Cardinals before the season and made his presence felt immediately. Eight hits in three games (including two homers) will do that.

Mets over Giants, 3-1
MVP:
Bobby Jones. His one-hit shutout in Game 4 clinched the series for the Mets. (Bobby Jones! One-hitter!)

1999

Red Sox over Indians, 3-2
MVP:
Nomar Garciaparra. This was the series where the Red Sox scored 35 runs in the final two games. And if you’re picking purely on narrative, Pedro wins.

Yankees over Rangers, 3-0
MVP:
Orlando Hernandez. Once again … the Rangers only scored one run against the Yankees all series.

Braves over Astros, 3-1
MVP:
John Rocker. Yeah, he might be not your favorite guy, but he was absolutely dominant this series. It is easy to forget, back before the 7 Train nonsense, just how truly great Rocker was at his peak.

Mets over D-backs, 3-1
MVP:
Rickey Henderson. Edgardo Alfonzo – who hit a go-ahead grand slam in Game 1 -- also an acceptable choice, but we’re not going to overlook Rickey stealing six bases at the age of 40.

1998

Indians over Red Sox, 3-1
MVP:
Kenny Lofton. Two homers, two steals, .375 average and five runs scored.

Yankees over Rangers, 3-0
MVP:
Mariano Rivera. The Yankees only gave up one run all series, and Mo finished all three games.

Braves over Cubs, 3-0
MVP:
Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. We’ll split it between them again (see below) because they combined to allow four runs in 21 2/3 innings.

Padres over Astros, 3-1
MVP: Jim Leyritz
. Leyritz wasn’t just a postseason hero for the Yankees: He had three homers this series.

1997

Indians over Yankees, 3-2
MVP:
Omar Vizquel. Vizquel had nine hits in the series and was, of course, a genius in the field.

Orioles over Mariners, 3-1
MVP:
Mike Mussina. Moose won two of the three games all by himself.

Marlins over Giants, 3-0
MVP:
Gary Sheffield. He slugged 1.000 for the series and, of course, terrified everyone with every swing.

Braves over Astros, 3-0
MVP:
Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. Five runs allowed in 24 combined innings.

1996

Orioles over Indians, 3-1
MVP:
B.J. Surhoff. Cal Ripken hit .444 for the series, but Surhoff had three homers.

Yankees over Rangers, 3-1
MVP:
Bernie Williams. Three homers, .467 average, a steal, terrific defense and some mean guitar licks.

Braves over Dodgers, 3-0
MVP:
Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. This is cheating, but how do you not keep these three together? They gave up two earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.

Cardinals over Padres, 3-0
MVP:
Brian Jordan. Jordan was a defensive maestro all series, and he hit the key homer that wrapped up the three-game sweep.

1995

Indians over Red Sox, 3-0
MVP:
Eddie Murray. He was 39 years old at the time but hit .385 for the series, with a homer and a triple.

Mariners over Yankees, 3-2
MVP:
Ken Griffey Jr.. Edgar Martinez had the big hit … but Griffey had five homers in five games.

Braves over Rockies, 3-1
MVP:
Marquis Grissom. He had three homers in the series, and two steals to boot.

Reds over Dodgers, 3-0
MVP: Hal Morris
. He had a .615 OBP in the three-game sweep.