Consecutive MVP winners in MLB history

April 16th, 2019

Winning one MVP Award is hard. Defending that title the next year is even more difficult.

Since the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) began handing out this coveted hardware in 1931, there have been 31 individuals who have won more than one in their careers. But just 13 of those players went back to back -- with one doing so multiple times.

Here is a look at the members of this exclusive club, beginning with the most recent.

Miguel Cabrera: 2012-13 (American League)
While some disputed Miggy’s MVP claim in both cases, due to the all-around brilliance of an emerging superstar in the AL, Cabrera easily beat out Mike Trout for the honor in both 2012 and ‘13. His argument was pretty straightforward. In ‘12, Cabrera became the first player to win a Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. He won another batting title the next year, while matching his home run total (44) and finishing with 137 RBIs, just short of his total (139) from '12.

Albert Pujols: 2008-09 (National League)
Pujols was already a veteran of the MVP race at this point, having finished in the top four in six of his first seven seasons, including a win in 2005. But ‘08 and ‘09 were perhaps the two best best years Pujols had during an incredible run in St. Louis, as he hit a combined .342/.452/.656 with 84 home runs and 251 RBIs. He even stole 16 bases in '09.

Barry Bonds: 2001-04 (NL)
No other player in MLB history has won four MVP Awards in an entire career. Bonds won four in a row with the Giants -- when he already had three in the bank (see below). These were the four years when Bonds broke the single-season home run record (2001) and just about broke baseball entirely. He had a .559 OBP, .809 slugging percentage and 755 walks over that span.

Frank Thomas: 1993-94 (AL)
The Hall of Fame slugger was in just his third full season, at age 25, when he was a unanimous selection in 1993 after racking up 41 home runs and 128 RBIs for the White Sox. The Big Hurt was even better the next year, but unfortunately, the strike halted a campaign in which he was batting an absurd .353/.487/.729 with 38 homers in 113 games.

Bonds: 1992-93 (NL)
Bonds, who won his first MVP Award in 1990, took his second in his final season with the Pirates, ‘92, when he led the Majors in OBP (.456) and slugging (.624). He was even better the next year after signing as a free agent with the Giants, slashing .336/.458/.677 with 46 homers and 123 RBIs.

Dale Murphy: 1982-83 (NL)
Coming off a disappointing 1981 campaign, Murphy enjoyed a big season, smacking 36 homers and driving in an NL-high 109 runs as he led the Braves to their first postseason appearance since ‘69 (and second since moving to Atlanta in ‘66). The Braves didn’t quite make it back the next year, but Murphy led the NL in RBIs again (121), along with slugging (.540) and OPS (.933).

Mike Schmidt: 1980-81 (NL)
Despite hitting at least 36 home runs and driving in at least 100 runs five times apiece in his first seven full seasons, Schmidt had not been named MVP. That all changed as the slick-fielding, hard-hitting third baseman got his due in two straight years. Schmidt is the most recent player to win a regular season and World Series MVP in the same season, doing so in 1980.

Joe Morgan: 1975-76 (NL)
This was at the height of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati, as the Reds won a combined 210 games and two World Series in these two seasons. Morgan was the best player on both of those star-studded rosters, combining Gold Glove defense at second base with great speed (127 steals), on-base skill (.456 OBP) and power (44 homers).

Roger Maris: 1960-61 (AL)
In December 1959, the Yankees acquired Maris from the Kansas City A’s. It was good timing. Maris’ first year in pinstripes featured 39 homers and 112 RBIs. His second featured the breaking of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, as Maris swatted 61. The Yankees won AL pennants both years, and the ‘61 World Series.

Ernie Banks: 1958-59 (NL)
As was the case for much of Banks’ career, the Cubs were not a very good team in these two seasons, with back-to-back sub-.500, fifth-place finishes. Banks transcended his situation by producing a combined 92 home runs and 272 RBIs while playing shortstop.

Mickey Mantle: 1956-57 (AL)
A young Mantle, in his prime, was basically unstoppable. He launched 52 home runs and drove in 130 in 1956, and put together a combined line of .358/.487/.686 in these two seasons. He was worth 11.3 WAR both years, making him one of four position players in history to reach the 11-WAR mark twice in a career.

Yogi Berra: 1954-55 (AL)
Before Mantle and Maris, it was Berra winning consecutive MVPs for the Yankees. The catcher already had one to his credit (1951), part of a run in which he finished in the top four in the voting for seven straight seasons. Berra topped 20 homers and 100 RBIs in both of these years, while working behind the plate.

Hal Newhouser: 1944-45 (AL)
The only pitcher on this list, Newhouser led the Majors in wins and strikeouts in both seasons, going a combined 54-18 with a 2.01 ERA. The left-hander led the Tigers to the 1945 World series, had a rough time in his first start, then came back for complete-game victories in Games 5 and 7, as the Tigers beat the Cubs.

Jimmie Foxx: 1932-33 (AL)
In 1932, Ruth’s career was starting to wind down. Meanwhile, Foxx was becoming the game’s top slugger. The Philadelphia A’s star led the Majors in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and OPS in both ‘32 and ‘33, going deep a total of 106 times and batting .360/.460/.726.