At the end of every Major League Baseball season the awards are handed out to give credit to the best players in the game. The biggest individual award is the Most Valuable Player, given to the best player in each league. Often times the winner is clear weeks prior to the results being revealed and other seasons we have a few unusual surprises.
1950 – Jim Konstanty
In a league with players like Stan Musial, Gil Hodges, and Jackie Robinson it was a relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies who took the 1950 National League MVP Award. Jim Konstanty was part of the Whiz Kids in Philadelphia and is an overlooked source of their success.
Relief pitchers winning the MVP Award is nothing too unusual, as rare as it might be. What makes this time special are the numbers Konstanty put up and how unusual they were by comparison to his other seasons. Konstanty appeared in 74 games out of the bullpen for a total of 152 innings. He finished 62 games while earning 22 saves. Konstanty was more than a modern-day closer as he also managed to win 16 games. This same year was the lone season Konstanty was named to the All-Star team. He would never have a season quite as great, although he remained reliable for the rest of his career.
1968 – Two Pitchers
In baseball 1968 is known as the year of the pitcher. The Cy Young Winners were Bob Gibson in the National League and Denny McLain in the American League. For the first and only time the Cy Young Award winners also took home the MVP Award in both leagues.
Gibson’s memorable feat in this season was his 1.12 ERA. Added to this he had a 22-9 record with 268 strikeouts. In spite of how amazing Gibson’s ERA was, McLain may have done something even more impressive. McLain finished the 1968 season with a 31-6 record. No one has since reached the 30 win mark. Added to this accomplishment is the fact that only five other pitchers have won an MVP Award since. All of them were in the American League, making Gibson the last National League pitcher to do so.
1979 – Tie
Out of all of the great seasons multiple players have had in the same year only once was the popular opinion on who should win split evenly among two men. In 1979 the National League MVP Award was shared with Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell.
At two different points in their career, Hernandez and Stargell won their only MVPs together at the same time. Hernandez earned his votes with a high batting average, over 200 hits, and driving in over 100 runs. Stargell’s playing time was limited that season due to an injury, but considering his Pittsburgh Pirates went on to win the World Series that year he probably had some people in his corner for the sake of how he helped the team as a whole. Even playing in just 126 games Stargell hit 32 home runs and made it so the offense was not completely dependent on reigning NL MVP Dave Parker.