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Monday, April 18, 2016

Most MVP awards in starting lineup.

During yesterday's Yankee game they displayed the starting lineup for the debut of Mickey Mantle on that date, April 17, in 1951.

Most Hall of Famers and MVP in a Starting Lineup.  Oct. 11, 2012

Sunday July 19, 1931 at Yankee Stadium.  Yanks beat the St. Louis Browns 8-2 ...

Earle Combs CF
Joe Sewell 3B
Babe Ruth RF
Lou Gehrig 1B
Ben Chapman LF
Lyn Lary SS
Bill Dickey C
Tony Lazzeri 2B
Lefty Gomez P

There are probably other Yankee lineups in those seasons with seven Hall of Fame players in the starting lineup but I doubt that there are any starting lineups with more.  Not by the Yankees.  Not by any team.  In fact I am guessing that no other team ever started as many as seven Hall of Fame players...

... the Yankees 1951 opening day lineup Tuesday, April 17, 1951 at Yankee Stadium:

Jackie Jensen LF
Phil Rizzuto SS
Mickey Mantle RF
Joe DiMaggio CF
Yogi Berra C
Johnny Mize 1B
Billy Johnson 3B
Jerry Coleman 2B
Vic Raschi P

Yanks beat Boston 5-0.  The Red Sox had three Hall of Fame starters: Ted WilliamsBobby Doerr and Lou Boudreau.

That Yankee lineup had something else that might never have been matched: eleven MVP awards.  Three each for DiMaggio, Berra and Mantle plus one each for Jensen and Rizzuto.  Jensen won in 1958 for Boston.
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However, those 11 MVPs included one by a player who later won for another team: Jackie Jensen, Boston Red Sox 1958. So I thought about a lineup with players who had already won MVP and preferably for that team. It seemed fair to include the player if he won that season. I got a big hint from the 1951 Yankees: include Mantle and Berra, if possible. So 1963 would work: Mantle and Berra each had their three MVP by then and Roger Maris had two: 1960 and 1961. Plus, Elston Howard won in 1963. That would make nine MVP, if it happened. Mantle won his third MVP in 1962 but that would not get more because I would lose Howard. There would almost certainly be Yankee lineups in 1962 with 8 MVP: Berra, Mantle, Maris.

I checked Yogi's game log for 1963 since that was his final season as a Yankee player. Yogi's first appearance: pinch hit April 11, 1963 in Yankee game four and Maris did not start.

Yogi'e first start was May 2, 1963. Yanks beat the Angels in Dodger Stadium 7-0. Maris played but Yogi caught, so Howard did not play. Still, that was 8 MVP, plus 1961 Cy Young award winner Whitey Ford. That would be tough to beat.

Then I realized that the only time Yogi played in 1963, he either PH or caught, which meant that Howard did not play. Howard only played catcher in 1963. And Mantle broke his foot in June and missed almost three months as a starter. And Maris played in only 90 games. So, I'll stick with that May 2, 1963 Yankee game of 8 MVP and one CY. There may have been games in 1962 which match that with Berra in left. In fact those games would feature all 8 MVP in the outfield.

Years ago when there was a question like "what brothers or family hit the most home runs" I'd wonder why Babe Ruth alone didn't count. Barry Bonds comes close, since Bonds won 7 MVP. His teammate Jeff Kent won in 2000 followed by Bonds the next four seasons. But by 2004 Kent was gone. Kent played for the Giants 1999-2002, then on to Houston 2003 and 2004, then the Dodgers 2005-2008. Kent has a career OPS+ 123.

So, based on my criteria, it looks like the threesome of Berra, Mantle, Maris represents the most MVP won to that point in a starting lineup AND all for that team: 8. Plus that cherry on the top: Ford's CY. Cool.

1 comment:

David Blocher said...

In a similar vein, name the four Hall of Fame Pitchers on one single pitching staff---

it was the greatest eight-man pitching staff in history (the #9 and #10 roster fillers combined for less than 50 IP)

You'll be thinking the 1950's Cleveland and 1954 in particular but the fourth one will be tough:

Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller and.... Mike Garcia did not make the Hall although he beat out Wynn and Lemon for the ERA title that year: 2.64 to 2.72 AND 2.72. You have to look at the pen where rookies Ray Narleski and Don Mossi shined, and then PRINCE HAL NEWHOUSER finishing his career with a 2.49. That year, Feller was actually the fifth starter with Art Houtteman in the fourth spot.