Ferguson: Individual awards don't guarantee team success

Scott Ferguson
3/4/2013 11:01:57 AM
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Lately, there have been plenty of stories projecting possible Cy Young and MVP winners this season and that made me wonder how winning these awards correlates to World Series victories and even just World Series appearances. I was more than a little surprised after researching the past 10 years.
Take Albert Pujols, for example. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the National League three times since the 2003 season. Yet, his St. Louis Cardinals didn't make it to the World Series in any of those three years (2005, 2008 and 2009). The Redbirds did, however, win the World Series in 2006 and 2011, when he didn't win.
Barry Bonds' case was similar. He won back-to-back MVP's in 2003 and 2004 but the Giants didn't make it to the Fall Classic in either season. In fact, they didn't win their two World Series' until Bonds was long out of the game (2010 and 2012).
If you go back 10 years, only two American League players, Josh Hamilton with Texas in 2010 and Miguel Cabrera with Detroit last season, made it to the World Series the year they won the Most Valuable player award and both their teams were defeated.
Oh, and I haven't forgotten Alex Rodriguez. He won MVP's with Texas in 2003 and the Yankees in 2007 and didn't go to the World Series either time.
The only one to break the mold, so to speak, was Giants catcher Buster Posey, who was part of a World Series winner last season while at the same time winning the MVP.
Things were even bleaker for Cy Young winners. In the last 10 years, not a single Cy Young winner has appeared in the World Series the same season. The Giants' Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, but didn't win his World Series until 2010 and 2011. Roy Halladay, the only two-time winner to grab one in each league, didn't make it in 2003 with the Blue Jays or in 2010 with the Phillies. And Johan Santana didn't make it in either of his Cy Young seasons of 2004 and 2006 with the Twins.
I went back a little further and discovered the 1991 Atlanta Braves were the last team to feature a Cy Young winner and an MVP winner in their World Series lineup. The Most Valuable Player was third baseman Terry Pendleton and the pitcher was lefty Tom Glavine, who's likely going into the Hall of Fame next year. However, Minnesota won that classic World Series over the Braves, which was the first to feature two teams that went from worst to first from the previous season.
George Bell won the Blue Jays' only Most Valuable Player award in 1987, but the Blue Jays were knocked out of the playoff chase on the final day of the regular season at Detroit. Many argued Tigers shortop Alan Trammell should have won the award that season. Detroit went on to lose the American League Championship series to the team that ultimately won the World Series, Minnnesota.
The Blue Jays post-season luck doesn't change with their four Cy Young Awards. Pat Hentgen won in 1996, Roger Clemens in 1997 and 1998 and Halladay in 2003. Of those four seasons, the Jays only played meaningful games in September of 1998. They didn't make it in 1998 either and manager Tim Johnson was fired the next spring.
I can't really explain any of this. I guess it just means great individual success doesn't guarantee team success, at least it hasn't in the last 10 seasons.

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