Postseason expansion changes MVP vote
The D-backs finished in third place in the National League West, 13 games behind the first-place Dodgers and four games below .500 (79-83). The Reds finished in last place in the NL Central, and were two losses shy of a 100-loss season (64-98). The Nationals had a winning record (83-79) but were considered a disappointment, finishing seven games back of the Mets in the NL East, 14 games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card.
Just the same, first basemen Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs and Joey Votto of the Reds and outfielder Bryce Harper of the Nationals are the finalists for the Baseball Writers' Association of America NL MVP Award, which will be announced Thursday.
That underscores how the MVP Award vote has changed along with the expansion of Major League Baseball's postseason format.
All ballots must be postmarked before the start of postseason play, with five teams in each league qualifying for the postseason.
With more teams advancing to the postseason, it has impacted the chances of a player from a World Series team winning the award. This year, of the three candidates in each league, only Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain appeared in the World Series. The other two American League finalists are third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays, who were eliminated by the Royals in the AL Championship Series, and Angels outfielder Mike Trout. The Angels finished third in the AL West, three games behind the Rangers and a game behind the Astros for the second AL Wild Card.
In the 20 years since the Wild Card was added and the postseason was expanded to include a Division Series in addition to the LCS and World Series, an MVP Award has gone to only three players who appeared in the World Series. Catcher Buster Posey won the 2012 NL MVP Award when his Giants won it all. Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP Award in 2012 when his team lost to the Giants, and outfielder Josh Hamilton won the 2010 AL MVP Award when the Rangers lost to the Giants in the World Series.
The 2015 NL MVP Award winner will be the seventh player since 1995 to win an MVP Award and not appear in the postseason, with Trout having a chance to become the eighth. The previous six MVP Award winners from non-playoff teams since 1995 were Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 2008; Ryan Howard, Phillies, '06; Barry Bonds, Giants, '01 and '04; Larry Walker, Rockies, 1997; and Alex Rodriguez, the only AL MVP Award in the group, with the Rangers in 2003.
There have been 31 MVP Award winners over the past 20 years whose team was eliminated in either the Division Series or the LCS.
From the addition of the LCS in 1969 through 1993, the last World Series before the Division Series was added, there were nine MVP Award winners who came off championship teams, including Willie Stargell of the Pirates, who shared the 1979 NL MVP Award with first baseman Keith Hernandez of the Cardinals, who did not advance to the postseason.
There were 13 MVP Award winners from teams that lost in the World Series, and 12 from teams that lost in the LCS. Seventeen MVP Award winners played on teams that did not advance to the postseason, including both in 1987 (Andre Dawson and George Bell), '78 (Dave Parker and Jim Rice) and '77 (George Foster and Rod Carew).
In the beginning
In the first 37 years of the MVP Awards, which was adopted by the BBWAA in 1931, when the World Series was the only postseason activity, there were 28 MVP Award winners from championship teams, 24 from teams that lost in the World Series, and 24 from teams that did not advance to the World Series, including Ernie Banks winning back-to-back NL MVP Awards in 1958-59 with the Cubs, who finished in fifth place out of eight NL teams both seasons.
An outfielder has won 15 of the 40 MVP Awards in the first 20 years since the addition to the Division Series, including Bonds four times. There have been 10 first basemen, four third basemen and shortstops, three catchers, two pitchers and two second basemen.
Lef-thander Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers won the NL MVP Award in 2014, and right-hander Justin Verlander of the Tigers won the AL MVP Award in '11. Second baseman Jeff Kent of the Giants won the NL MVP Award in 2000, and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox won the AL MVP Award in '08.
Rodriguez won the AL MVP Award as a shortstop with the Rangers in 2003, and as a third baseman with the Yankees in '05 and '07.
Sunday is the 55th anniversary of Roger Maris earning his second AL MVP Award in two years, drawing 202 votes compared to 198 for Mickey Mantle.
Monday is the 49th anniversary of Sandy Koufax announcing his retirement because of chronic left elbow pain, and it is the 28th anniversary of the Cubs' Dawson becoming the first player from a last-place team to win an MVP Award.