American League GW Champs
Where Are Babe, Double-XX, Joe?
By John B Holway
Today, we’ll look at the American League yearly leaders in Games Won At Bat. For the newcomers, a GWAB (or GW, for short) is awarded to every player who supplies enough runs, scored and batted in, to equal his team’s margin of victory. One is enough in a one-run victory, two with a two-run margin etc.
In past post’s we reported, courtesy of Tom Ruane of Retrosheet, on the 2014 leaders in each league, and on the N.L. yearly leaders, comparing them to the topo batters in the MVPO voting and the RBI kings.. Today we’ll check the American league. Again, there are some familiar names. But also a lot of surprises.
Here are the American League year-by-year leaders.
GWAB MVP RBI
|1920 32 Collins||–||Ruth|
|1921 29 Pratt||–||Ruth|
|1922 30 McManus||Sisler||K.Williams|
|1923 34 Ruth||Ruth||Ruth|
|1924 30 Cobb, Hauser||Collins||Goslin|
|1925 30 Sisler||Peckinpaugh||Meusel|
|1927 30 Cobb||Gehrig||Gehrig|
|1928 35 Gehrig||Cochrane||Gehrig, Ruth|
|1929 32 Fonseca||–||Simmons|
|1930 34 Gehringer||Gehrig||Gehrig|
|1931 31 Cronin||Gehringer||Gehrig|
|1933 34 Gehrig||Foxx||Foxx|
|1934 38* Gehringer||Cochrane||Gehrig|
|1935 30 Solters||Greenberg||Greenberg|
|1936 29 Bonura||Gehrig||Trosky|
|1937 34 Gehringer, Averill||Gehringer||Greenberg|
|1938 32 Trosky, Averill||Foxx||Foxx|
|1939 31 Kreevich||DiMaggio||Williams|
|1940 32 Wright||Greenberg||Greenberg|
|1941 30 Bob Johnson||DiMaggio||DiMaggio|
|1942 36 Williams||Gordon||Williams|
|1943 30 Bill Johnson||Appling||York|
|1944 29 Boudreau||Stephens||Stephens|
|1945 26 Stephens||E.Mayo||Ettem|
|1946 31 Doerr||Williams||Greenberg|
|1947 28 Henrich||DiMaggio||Williams|
|1948 25 DiMaggio||Boudreau||DiMaggio|
|1949 32 Wertz||Williams||Williams, Stephens|
|1950 28 Kell||Rizzuto||Dopo|
|1951 24 Williams, Mitchell, D.DiMaggio, E.Robinson||Berra||Zernial|
|1952 28 Runnels||Mantle||Rosen|
|1953 28 Rosen||Rosen||Rosen|
|1954 30 Minoso||Berra||Doby|
|1955 28 Jensen||Berra||Jensen, Boone|
|1956 26 Piersall||Mantle||Mantle|
|1957 30 Mantle||Mantle||Sievers|
|1958 31 B. Robinson||Jensen||Jensen|
|1959 30 Colavito||Fox||Jensen|
|1960 31 B. Robinson||Maris||Maris|
|1961 33 Mantle||Maris||Maris|
|1962 32 Wagner||Mantle||Killebrew|
|1963 23 Charles, Lampe||E.Howard||Stuart|
|1964 29 Fregosi||B.Robinson||B.Robinson|
|1965 31 Versalles||Versalles||Colavito|
|1966 27 B Robinson||F.Robinson||F.Robinson|
|1967 28 Reichardt||Yastrzmski||Yastrzmski|
|1968 29 Tovar||Freehan||Harrelson|
|1969 28 Powell||Killebrew||Killebrew|
|1970 32 R.White||Powell||F.Howard|
|1971 27 R. Smith||F.Robinson||Killebrew|
|1972 33 Allen||Allen||Allen|
|1973 27 Jackson||Jackson||Jackson|
|1974 29 Murcer||Burroughs||Burroughs|
|1975 33 Brett,Otis||Lynn||Scott|
|1976 32 Murray||Munson||May|
|1977 32 Cowans||Carew||Hisle|
|1978 35 Rice||Rice||Rice|
|1979 32 G. Thomas||Baylor||Baylor|
|1980 27 W.Wilson, Murray||Brett||Cooper|
|1981 27 Dw.Murphy||Henderson||Murray|
|1982 21 Dw.Evans||Yount||McRae|
|1983 29 C.Cooper||Ripkin||Cooper|
|1984 29 Dw. Evans||Hrbek||Armas|
|1985 28 Mattingly||Mattingly||Mattingly|
|1986 31 Downing||Mattingly||Carter|
|1987 29 Molitor||Bell||Bell|
|1988 32 Canseco||Canseco||Canseco|
|1989 24 Ripken, Sierra||Yount||Sierra|
|1990 28 Franco||Henderson||Fielder|
|1991 27 Polonia||Ripken||Fielder|
|1992 31 F. Thomas||Puckett||Fielder|
|1993 30 McRae||F.Thomas||Belle|
|1994 22 Puckett, Molitor, Carter||F.Thomas||Puckett|
|1995 26 Martinez||Vaughn||Belle, Vaughn|
|1996 31 Alomar||J.Gonzalez||Belle|
|1997 24 Salmon||Griffey||Griffey|
|1998 26 Belle, Jeter, Green, Salmon, F.Thomas||Gonzalez||Gonzalez|
|1999 34 Ramirez||I.Rodriquez||Ramirez|
|2000 31 Erstad||Giambi||Martinez|
|2001 33 J.Gonzalez||Ichiro||Boone|
|2002 28 Erstad||Tejada||Rodriquez|
|2003 26 Rodriquez, Garciaparra||A.Rodriquez||Delgado|
|2004 28 Rodriquez, Jeter, Sheffield||Guerrero||Tejada|
|2005 31 Konerko||Rodriquez||Ortiz|
|2006 28 Dye||Monreau||Ortiz|
|2007 30 Sizemore||Rodriquez||Rodriquez|
|2008 27 Hunter||Pedroia||Hamilton|
|2009 31 Polanco||Mauer||Teixeira|
|2010 31 M. Young||Hamilton||Cabrera|
|2011 29 Cano||Ellsbury||Granderson|
|2012 29 A. Jones||Cabrera||Cabrera|
|2013 27 Cano||Cabrera||Davis|
|2014 30 Trout||Trout||Trout|
Leaders in A.L. GW Titles
1920. Ruth revolutionized baseball forever. He powered 54 home runs, almost twice his own record of 1919. But he wasn’t the GW champ. A cocky little singles hitter with three homers was pinging them to right, blooping them to center, and dribbling them to left. Eddie Collins (left) out-gwabbed Babe, 32-28. His White Sox finished second; Ruth’s Yankees came in third.
1921. Ruth soared to 59 homers, but he still couldn’t lead in GWs. He lost to a guy you’ve never heard of, Del Pratt with five home runs but 29 GWs to Babe’s 25.
1922. Geoge Sisler batted .422 as the Browns lost a squeaker to the Yankees. Yet Sis finished only fifth in GWs – on his own team! He won only 19 games. Marty McManus (.312, below, left) won 30. Ruth had 27.
1924. Two dead ball stars fought it out for the GW crown. Collins took the MVP, but Ty Cobb, 37 years old, took the GW.
1926. Lou Gehrig won his first GW title with 38, a record that has never been broken. But Lou lost the MVP to someone named George Burns with three home runs.
1927. Babe slugged 60 homers, but he couldn’t win the GW flag. Gehrig, with 47 homers, topped him in both GWs and MVP votes. This is amazing, since he came to bat 60 times with the bases empty after Ruth had cleared them off. But hold on! They were both passed in GWs by 40 year-old, Cobb (five home runs).
1928. Lou won his second GW crown, but lost the MVP to Mickey Cochrane.
1932-33. Gehrig won his third and fourth GW titles, beating MVP Jimmie Foxx both times. Jimmie never won a GW crown.
1940. The Tigers won the pennant in a close race, but Greenberg lost the GW race to another unknown, Taffy Wright.
1942. Ted Williams won his first GW title with 36, one of the best totals ever. But the writers punished him for not joining the Service, so they gave the MVP to Yankee Joe Gordon (21 GW) who also had stayed out of uniform.
1946. Back from the war, Ted finally won an MVP, but teammate Bobby Doerr edged him for the GW title by
1947. DiMag won another MVP, but the real winner should have been teammate Tommy Henrich, who won the GW race.
1948. This time it was Joe’s turn to be cheated. Lou Boudreau led the Indians to a playoff victory over Boston with only 18 GWs, but the writers gave him the MVP over Joe and about 20 other batters. Lou wasn’t that great a fielder; in fact, he had poor range and a poor arm, and managing isn’t supposed to be a factor in MVP voting. Ted had a sub-par year, for him (21), and that cost Boston the flag.
1949. Ted just missed a Triple Crown, and the writers voted him MVP, ignoring Vic Wertz, who had more GWs.
1956. Another big upset. Mantle slugged 52 homers, good for another MVP. But he didn’t win as many games as light-hitting, great fielding Jimmy Piersall (right), who wore a “B” instead of an “NY” on his cap.
1960. Brooks led in GWs again, though once more the writers were caught asleep at their typewriters and voted for Roger Maris as MVP.
1961. In a thrilling race to break Babe’s record, Maris won the race and the MVP, though Mick won the race that counts – the GW.
1966. Brooks Robinson did it again, beating his eponymous slugging teammate, Frank, as GW king. Alas, again the writers weren’t paying attention and gave their nod to the Frank.
1967. Carl Yastrzmski’s “Impossible Dream” season led Boston from ninth to first. While everyone was watching that drama, an unknown named Rick Reichardt (.265, 60 RBI) was actually winning more games than Yaz but got no votes for MVP. But who would disagree that Yaz deserved the MVP?
1983. The great Carl Ripken put most W’s on the. Scoreboard. But once again the writers were scoping our girls with their binoculars instead of watching the game and gave their votes to Cecil Cooper.
1991. This time Cal won the MVP, but dark-horse Luis Polonia (two home runs) topped him in Games Won.
2005. A-Rod dazzled everyone with 48 homers. But while the crowds were watching him, Paul Konerko, with 35 homers, actually out-gwabbed him. Paul hit ‘em when they counted.
180 total batting MVPs (both leagues)
47 were RBI champs (about 25%)
26 were GW champs (about 15%)
There is no consensus on how electors vote
Three out of four RBI kings did not win the (batters’) MVP
If voters had known about GWs, they would have elected more GW leaders
GW is not the only tool to elect MVPs. But it should be one of them.
GWs can be of great help in making personnel decisions (trades etc)
They can also be valuable in making on-field decisions (pinch-hitting, making up the lineup, e.g.)
They can be a factor in contract negotiations.
Coming soon: Lifetime GW Leaders, and more ideas to measure value.
Gabriel Schechter will also have an eye-opening “Clutch RBIs” and “Useless RBI’s” in a coming post. Who do you think leads each list?
Also, click on “MOVIES” to read our first reviews