The League Championship Series was born in 1969, but initially, the round did not have an official MVP Award. The National League version arrived in ‘77, and the American League version in ‘80.
Since that time, only eight players have been named the MVP of the LCS and the World Series in the same season, putting their stamp on multiple postseason series. Coincidentally, all eight have been NL players.
Here is a look at each of these October heroes:
Corey Seager, SS, 2020 Dodgers
The 2016 National League Rookie of the Year missed most of ‘18 due to injury and wasn’t quite at his best in ‘19, but he fully returned to form in ‘20. After posting a .943 OPS in the regular season, the 26-year-old raked throughout the playoffs, becoming the fifth player to hit as many as eight homers in a single postseason. Five of those -- along with 11 RBIs -- came in a seven-game National League Championship Series victory against the Braves. Seager then tied for the team lead in hits (eight) and led L.A. in walks (six) while going deep twice more in a six-game Fall Classic against the Rays. Between the two series, Seager batted .347 with 15 RBIs to help land the Dodgers their first championship since 1988.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, 2014 Giants
He was already a two-time World Series champion with some great postseason moments when 2014 rolled around. Bumgarner only added to his October legacy, first tossing a shutout on the road in the Wild Card Game. The lefty then started two Giants wins over the Cardinals in the NLCS, allowing just three runs in 15 2/3 innings, but his best work came in the World Series against the Royals. Bumgarner started and won Games 1 and 5 -- allowing one combined run in 16 innings -- and sealed his hero status by coming out of the bullpen in Game 7. Entering with a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, on two days’ rest, Bumgarner threw 68 pitches while holding that one-run lead.
David Freese, 3B, 2011 Cardinals
Everyone remembers Freese saving the Cardinals’ season with his game-tying, ninth-inning, two-run triple in Game 6 of the World Series against the Rangers. And of course, Freese then ended that game, two innings later, with a walk-off homer. But Freese also smacked a game-tying two-run double in the first inning of Game 7 to spur a 6-2 victory, finishing the Series with a 1.160 OPS. What gets lost in that performance is that Freese was even better, statistically speaking, in the NLCS against the Brewers: He went 12-for-22 (.545) with three doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and a 1.691 OPS. The damage included a three-run shot that broke open St. Louis’ decisive Game 6 victory in the first inning.
Cole Hamels, LHP, 2008 Phillies
Just 24 years old at the time, Hamels was the leader of Philadelphia’s rotation, and he pitched like it in October. His team won all five of his starts in that postseason, including two apiece in the NLCS against the Dodgers and the World Series against the Rays. Hamels won the Game 5 clincher at Los Angeles and also was solid in the Fall Classic clincher against Tampa Bay. Between the two series, he posted a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings.
Livan Hernandez, RHP, 1997 Marlins
Hernandez was the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1997, after signing out of Cuba the year before. After two relief appearances, the 22-year-old’s first postseason start came against the Braves in Game 5 of a tied NLCS. Hernandez could not have come up bigger, outdueling Greg Maddux with a one-run complete-game victory in which he famously took advantage of a generous strike zone to rack up 15 Ks (tied for the third most in any game in postseason history).
Orel Hershiser, RHP, 1988 Dodgers
What a year it was for Hershiser. He won a Cy Young Award, set a still-standing MLB record with a regular season-ending, 59-inning scoreless streak and led the Dodgers to a championship. In the NLCS against the Mets, he started Games 1 and 3, recorded a one-out save with the bases loaded in Game 4 and threw a shutout in Game 7. When the Dodgers took on a heavily favored A’s team in the World Series, Hershiser tossed another shutout in Game 2 and then authored a complete-game victory in the decisive Game 5. Overall that postseason, Hershiser posted a 1.05 ERA in 42 2/3 innings.
Darrell Porter, C, 1982 Cardinals
Porter went 5-for-9 with five walks and three doubles in an NLCS sweep of the Braves. He then got eight more hits in the World Series against the Brewers, including a game-tying, sixth-inning, two-run double in Game 2 that helped St. Louis tie the series, and a two-run homer that broke open Game 6 with the Cardinals facing elimination.
Willie Stargell, 1B, 1979 Pirates
The Hall of Famer was 39 years old at this point, but that didn’t stop him from taking NL MVP honors by slugging .552 with 32 homers in just 126 games. Stargell had two homers and six RBIs in a three-game NLCS sweep of the Reds, including a go-ahead three-run shot in the 11th inning of Game 1. “Pops” went deep three more times and drove in seven runs in the World Series, helping the Pirates rally from a 3-1 deficit against the Orioles. In Game 7, he went 4-for-5, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning that was the key blow in a Bucs victory.