Campaign season: MLB's election year links

February 15th, 2016

It's no secret that baseball has long been considered one of America's greatest pastimes.
Thus, what better way to celebrate Presidents Day -- and this year's upcoming presidential election -- than by examining the history of Major League Baseball during previous presidential election years?
Spencer: Baseball, POTUS go back long way
The following is a collection of 13 facts and figures celebrating some of the most significant individual and team accomplishments that occurred during the 29 presidential election years dating back to 1900.
• It comes as no surprise that the Yankees -- winners of 27 World Series titles overall -- have won the most election-year World Series with seven. Their most recent election-year title came in 2000, while the Yanks also emerged victorious in 1928, '32, '36, '52, '56 and '96. The Red Sox are the only other team with more than two such championships, having won three election-year titles in '12, '16 and 2004.

• As for the other election-year champions, the Cardinals, Phillies, Indians, Reds and Tigers have each won such titles, while the A's, Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Pirates and Washington Senators each claimed one.
• Adding it all up, the American League has captured 17 titles during election years, compared to only 10 by its National League counterparts. The AL also holds the longest streak by either league, having won seven straight election-year World Series from 1912-36. The NL, however, has won each of the last two, with the Giants winning it all in 2012 and the Phillies doing so in '08.

• Barry Bonds, who won seven Most Valuable Player Awards throughout his career, is the only player to win multiple election-year MVP Awards. The first came in 1992 as a member of the Pirates, the same year that Bill Clinton was elected for his first of two terms. Bonds' second such MVP Award came in 2004 -- capping a run of four straight MVP seasons -- when George Bush was elected for his second term.
• There has also been only one player to win multiple Cy Young Awards during presidential election years. That honor belongs to Hall of Fame southpaw Steve Carlton, who was named the NL Cy Young Award winner in both 1972 and '80 as a member of the Phillies. Carlton won four Cy Young Awards overall, also taking home the honor in '77 and '82.
• From a team perspective, the Cardinals, A's and Tigers are tied for the most combined election-year MVP and Cy Young Award winners with seven apiece. The Cards and A's have each had six MVPs and one Cy Young winner, while the Tigers check in with five MVPs and two Cy Young honorees.

• At the other end of the spectrum, there are five teams -- the Brewers, Mariners, Marlins, Nationals and Rockies -- that have never had a player win either an MVP or Cy Young Award during an election year.
• Election years have proved to be particularly favorable for both the Phillies and the Indians. Each franchise has won two World Series -- and each franchise won both of its titles during election years. The Phillies won their championships ahead of the 1980 and 2008 elections, while the Indians did so in 1920 and '48. The Phils have been to five other World Series -- all in non-election years -- and lost each one. Cleveland, meanwhile, has come up empty in each of its other three trips to the Fall Classic, all in non-election years.

• The longest World Series drought dates back to an election year, as the Cubs last won the title in 1908 -- the same year that William Howard Taft was elected to office. The Dodgers also last won the World Series during an election year, though it was far more recent (1988).
• As for individual accomplishments, the most home runs hit during an election year came in 1932, when Hall of Fame first baseman Jimmie Foxx clubbed 58 homers for the Athletics. Among the top 15 single-season home run totals, Foxx's 58 -- which is tied for 10th -- is the only one that came during an election year.
• Moving to the mound, the lowest ERA in an election year belongs to Dutch Leonard, who posted a miniscule 0.96 ERA over 224 2/3 innings for the 1914 Red Sox. Outside of the Dead-Ball Era (since 1920), the lowest election-year ERA is Bob Gibson's 1.12 mark for the 1968 Cardinals.

• The most presidential individual campaign (or best overall season), in terms of WAR, during an election year belongs to Hall of Fame hurler Walter Johnson. The Washington Senators' right-hander racked up a 13.5 WAR in 1912, the same year that Woodrow Wilson was elected for the first of his two terms. Johnson went 33-12 with a 1.39 ERA and 303 strikeouts over 369 innings. He fired complete games in 34 of his 37 starts that season -- and made another 13 appearances in relief. 
• As for position players, Roger Hornsby takes the honor with his 12.4 WAR for the 1924 Cardinals. He led the Majors with a staggering .424 batting average, while also leading the NL in hits, doubles, runs scored, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases. His 222 OPS+ that season is the 12th highest in Major League history and the best by any player not named Babe Ruth, Ted Williams or Bonds.