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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

By Acquiring Curtis Granderson, the NY Yankees Become Easier to Hate

First things first, I don’t hate the New York Yankees. My best friend loves them, so I must dignify everything I say about them.

The latest acquisition, center fielder Curtis Granderson, late of the Detroit Tigers is the most recent arrow in the quiver of Yankee haters everywhere. Easily one of the better center fielders in the game, Curtis becomes yet another power hitting left-handed batter for the Bronx Bombers.

If someone looked at a graph of the 29-year old Granderson career they would easily become disillusioned and think the best has already been. His average has plummeted from .302 in 2007 to .280 in 2008, to an all-time low of .249 last year.

The Tigers began their discussion with the Yankees, salivating over Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. In the end of this transaction, the Yankees sent pitcher Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitcher Phil Coke and outfielder Austin Jackson to Detroit.

Granderson is expected to immediately patrol center field in Yankee Stadium. What this does to the future of Melky Cabrera depends on how the free agency status of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui is handled.

From an outsider gazing into the fishbowl, the Yankees just seem to be content on climbing over who or what is necessary to obtain the best at each position. I realize that is a stretch calling Granderson the best, however I do not know many teams that would not love to have him in their lineup.

During the off-season in 2008-2009 they obtained arguably the best pitcher in the American League in C. C. Sabathia and one of the best in A. J. Burnett. They also went and got first baseman Mark Teixeira and outfielder-first baseman Nick Swisher, each of whom contributed greatly to their Championship drive.

Is it natural to hate a team because of their fiscal abilities? When you are a squad such as the Florida Marlins whose highest paid player makes less than $6 M. They have fewer millionaires than many fortune 500 companies.

The only answer is some form of salary maximum. It should not boil down to the team with the deepest pockets being the World Champions. That is what we are currently viewing. Should something be done to negate this financial pre-requisite?

You tell me.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.

NY Mets’ Shorstop Jose Reyes to the Cincinnati Reds?

Reds fans listen up! How would you like to have Jose Reyes as the shortstop? I thought that would get your attention.

The RedsReporter reported that the Reds are in talks with the New York Mets concerning Reyes. If you click on the link they provide it takes you to the movie “Psyche” website. It took me three clicks to realize they were playing a joke in all probability. However, it did commence my thinking process.

Reyes is still very young, 26 and is coming off a year of injuries. He only played in 36 games and still managed to bat .279. If he has rebounded at all from his injury, can you imagine what an impact he could make on this team?

A bona fide thief, he lead the National League in stolen bases for three consecutive years. He isn’t priced in the Cadillac lot, yet. According to ESPN his salary last year was a shade over $6M. That isn’t even as much as we wasted on Ramon Hernandez last season.

It is hard to imagine what they would want in return, but I could name at least three outfielders who I would be willing to part with. With Reyes in the yard,  it wouldn’t be difficult at all to let Willy Taveras hit the bricks. Reyes could be a better leadoff hitter, and certainly more aggressive on the paths.

Even in dreams we can become excited during the offseason. What an outstanding infield Reyes would complete. He and Scott Rolen on the left side with Brandon Phillips at second base, and of course Joey Votto at first. That would compete with just about any squad in the Biggies.

It is hard to imagine the Mets having a more dismal year than the Reds, but that was clearly the case in 2009.  Cincinnati actually won eight more games than the injury-plagued Mets, so shakeups should be in store for them.

If you dream it you can believe it. If you believe it you can achieve it. Or something like that. Dream hard, Reds fans, dream hard.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.

Shocking News: Andy Pettitte Will Be Back with the NY Yankees in 2010

To report that Andy Pettitte will be back on the mound for the New York Yankees in 2010 is no more surprising than saying they will play their home games in the beautiful, new mini-park known as Yankee Stadium. Yet, ESPN reported it today.

If you will still be 37 until just before the All-Star break, you can make at leat $6,000,000 playing a game with other grown millionaires, where would the big surprise be that you intend to come back?

Pettitte had a very good year in 2009, especially when we use modern-day pitching records as a backdrop. 14 wins, that is just a win or two shy of Cy Young contention. Am I right?

Even though Andy failed to complete any of the 32 games he started, that is what they pay bullpens for. The entire Yankee staff only had three complete games, two for C.C. Sabathia and one for A.J. Burnett. Sabathia also recorded the lone shutout for the staff.

His record in 2009 was better than it was the year before. He completed 2009 with a 14-8 mark, 4.16 ERA and struck out nearly twice as many batters as he walked. Is he attempting a Hall of Fame run?

I don’t feel that he has accomplished nearly enough to gain entrance into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Especially when you have pitchers such as Bert Blyleven, Tommy John and Jim Kaat all with basically the same number of wins (283-288), a much better ERA than Pettitte, who can’t get inside without a ticket.

He has been playing in MLB for 15 seasons, all but three with  pin-stripes. He was with the Houston Astros from 2004-2006 where he was 37-26 with a very good ERA (again, by today’s standards) of 3.38. He ranks third all time in Yankee lore with 192 wins, sixth in innings pitched with 2,406, and third in strikeouts with 1,722.

What would the legacy of Andy Pettitte be if he retired now?  Would he be too-easily recognized with the steroid crowd? Is he trying to outrun that image, could that be why he wants to play more? Would he be remembered for his two 21-win seasons? How about his post-season work? He has won 18 and lost only nine with an ERA of 3.90 in 40 post-season starts.

Did you ever wonder what, if any relationship he has with Roger Clemens? Remember, he threw Rog under the old proverbial bus back when Clemens couldn’t even pop-up from his hole and look for his shadow? I don’t think too many hold that against him, probably just the “gangster type” element who can’t tolerate snitches.

It should come as a shock to absolutely nobody that Pettitte will be back. The only thing left to haggle about his how many millions of dollars he deserves. He played all of the ’09 season making about 1/3 of what he made in the previous season. $5.5M, how did the boy get by? All joking aside, that is a big party-buster when you just made $16M for two straight seasons.

If the rest of the teams find out how much performance 33% will buy these days, we could see a completely new landscape, fiscally speaking of course.

So, just to be clear, is anyone surprised that Andy will be back in 2010?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Cincinnati Reds Report Cards: Jay Bruce

When Jay Bruce came up from Louisville in 2008 he showed shades of brilliance. He reminded me in a small way of Mickey Mantle. He certainly had the strikeouts down pat.

After settling down, he showed no further signs of greatness last season.

In 2009 his power revealed itself on the major league level. He had 15 home runs before Memorial Day and looked like he was set for a 40/HR year.

His average bottomed and we see now a true .240 hitter with excellent power.

He had three games of multiple homers, the highlight of the season for him coming on Sept. 29th in a home game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bruce hit two round-trippers and knocked in five runs.

He was on the Disabled List from July 11 until Sept. 14 with a broken wrist.

Bruce is a better-than-average outfielder, with range enough to play center field in a pinch. He possesses a very strong throwing arm, throwing out 11 runners.

His base running is nothing spectacular, and can be made to look foolish when swinging at bad pitches.

Here are his 2009 statistics:

AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS+ RISP
345 47 77 22 58 .223 .303 .470 100 .229

Jay only appeared in 101 games in 2009, just seven less than the year before. With short seasons it is hard to get a good read on what he can really do.

He blends in well with this young team and should be a force to reckon with in years to come. This season, however, I have to hand him a C-, the home runs being the only thing keeping him from a D.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Is Joe Mauer the Best Player in Major League Baseball ?

I recently took a written beating for saying that I thought Joe Mauer was helped greatly by being a catcher, in his recent naming as the American League’s Most Valuable Player for 2009.

With that being said, is Mauer not only the best catcher in the game, is he also the best player in MLB? Let’s not throw pitchers in this mix, I would like to be able to compare “apples with apples.”

First order of business, let’s look at what competition he actually has, at least in my opinion. Forget steroid talk, age of the player, futuristic possibilities, etc. These will appear in no particular order in the following list:

A) Albert Pujols

B) Miguel Cabrera

C) Alex Rodriguez

D) Mark Teixeira

E) Hanley Ramirez

F) Ryan Howard

G) Ichiro Suzuki

H) Chase Utley

These are the only contenders in my view. If you disagree, you are cordially invited to toss someone else in the mix.

These statistics reflect averages for 162 games:

PLAYER R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS+ RISP
Joe Mauer 97 196 17 92 .327 .408 .483 136 .347
Albert Pujols 124 199 42 129 .334 .427 .628 172 .345
Miguel Cabrera 98 190 33 117 .311 .383 .542 140 .318
Alex Rodriguez 126 189 44 128 .305 .390 .576 147 .301
Mark Teixeira 102 178 37 122 .290 .378 .545 136 .314
Hanley Ramirez 123 202 27 82 .316 .386 .531 138 .305
Ryan Howard 103 166 49 142 .279 .376 .586 142 .278
Ichiro Suzuki
111 231 10 59 .333 .378 .434 118 .340
Chase Utley 109 178 29 106 .295 .379 .523 129 .291

I believe that if you were just relying on statistics, Pujols would win this contest in walk-off fashion. He leads the pack in four of the nine categories.

Now we all know that stats only show us so much of the player’s ability. Many B/R readers believe that 1B is the easiest to play and C is the hardest. Therefore, according to some, an intangible factor would need to be invented to sway things the way of the catcher.

It is interesting to note that of the nine players I chose, four play 1B, one 2B, one SS, one C, one 3B and one OF.

I am not a mathematician, nor do I play one on TV, and therefore could not come up with a numerical factor to represent the different positions. So it would seem justifiable to come to the conclusion that Albert Pujols is the best player in the game today.

OK, I am ready. Let’s hear it.


Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, where this article was first published.

Is The National Baseball Hall of Fame a Place Just for Altar Boys ?

Baseball fans wake up!

After reading an article by my good buddy and colleague Illya Harrell about how Pete Rose, as a manager, ruined the career of Mario Soto, I had to write this.

In his article, Illya said that because Rose pitched Soto on three days rest repeatedly, he killed Soto’s career prematurely. He also said that should be another reason why Rose should not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

It has always been my view that the Hall of Fame is for players who were exceptional on the field, period. I don’t feel it is necessary to involve the FBI with background checks, or investigators vetting someone to rattle all the skeletons from their closets.

The Hall of Fame is in critical condition folks. It is replete with drunkards, racists, adulterers and other forms of ill repute and debauchery. What is one more going to hurt?

Wait Cliff, you say drunkards are in the HOF? Yes, the great Babe Ruth was a known imbiber as well as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and probably three-fourths of the men who played in the “dark ages.”

Racists, come on now. Okay, Ty Cobb was probably a card carrying member of the KKK if indeed it was in full vigor during his day. Cap Anson wouldn’t even allow his teams to play if there was a Negro on the opposing team. Color him Racist with the capital not edited out.

Adulterers, really Cliff? Don’t be so naive. There have been men throughout the ages who have stepped out on their wives. Baseball players are no exception. It was a common occurrence in the bygone days for men to “hook up” with women in certain cities on their schedules. Mickey Mantle comes to mind, sorry Mick I love you man.

What I am trying to show is that the Hall of Fame is not a place for “do-gooders”, Sunday school teachers, or altar boys. Not to say that there aren’t some in there, and I love them, but that is not, or should not be part of the criteria for enshrinement.

I am all in favor of role models, don’t misread me. That being said, I like what Hall of Fame member Bob Gibson said. “Why should I be a role model for your kid? Be a role model for your kid yourself.”

You could probably go checking into the lives of everyone of those men in the hallowed hall and find something with which to exclude many of them. I know gambling is against the rules, in fact the Golden Rule of baseball. However, when a man who has had more hits than anyone whoever put on a jock, won seven batting titles, had over 200 hits nine times, has done 20 years of humiliation (albeit self-imposed), he should be paroled.

Give him his due. If you who are reading this article feel he is such a criminal and low-life that he doesn’t belong, please open your own closet and let the skeletons walk free. Let them say, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com

(c) 2009 Clifton Eastham All Rights Reserved.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher report, where this article was first published.

Open Letter to Ford Frick, RE: Roger Maris

(I realize he is dead)

Dear Mr. Frick,

You sir, have tainted one of the most revered records in all of baseball.

Why did you do it?  Did you fold under pressure or just have a personal vendetta against Roger Maris?

Maybe Mantle too as I believe you made your “decree” prior to being certain which one of them had the better chance of  taking the crown off the “beloved” Babe’s head.

This record was broken legitimately and within the course of a season.  Just because the season was eight games longer than the prior years, Maris should not be denied a bona fide record, broken without the aid of any performance enhancing techniques.

Unless, of course, you think three packs of camels a day enhanced him in any way.

Anyone who looks at the record book in the future will view it as a record that has a problem attached to it.

That is what people do when they see an asterisk you know.  They begin to let their eyes drift to the bottom of the page, in order to see what explanation needs to be said about a particular item.

You, as part of the elders of the game, took it upon yourself to proclaim that Maris’ record was not legit.

That is the only such hallowed record that has such a disgraceful companion with it.

It is my opinion, sir, and maybe only mine, but I believe you ruined the remaining portion of his baseball career.

His health began to decline and he was losing his hair due to the stress of the fiasco.

When a man has within his grasp, the chance to dethrone one of the all time greats, that should be what he has to deal with; not a baseball commissioner who had no backbone.

You are aware that he won two consecutive Most Valuable Player Awards.

Did you also know that he is one of only two players in the course of major league history to win two MVP awards and not be invited into the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

In great part, I point the finger of blame right at you.  For the longest time Maris was the only player with a “major” record who was not a Hall of Famer.

Your total disrespect for Maris and his outstanding achievement diminished his chances of being one of baseball’s immortals.

I have gone so far as to send a letter to Stan Musial (who was on the Veterans’ Committee at the time) to take a close look at Maris’ contributions to the game as well as his statistics.

I am not saying that Roger’s statistics alone made him worthy of the Hall of Fame.  I am saying, that what he did and how he did it, along with his two MVP awards made him a desirable candidate.

I know you are gone now and this letter will never reach you.  But it sure takes a load off my chest to write it.

If you and Roger are in the same place, and perhaps have mended the fences, please tell him I am still doing anything I can to help him gain entrance into the Shrine.

Eternally,

Cliff Eastham

Roger Maris’ No. 1 Fan

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Vada Pinson: The Most Underrated Baseball Player Ever

I have seen players come and go.  I’ve watched them during their first game and was still alive when they retired.

Some players are fortunate in that they receive accolades for what they do.

Others are not quite as lucky, laboring in the vineyard year after year, without much appreciation or love.

Vada Pinson was such a man.

I am not a romanticist, so I don’t want to make Pinson out to be bigger in death than he was in life.

I do, however, think the man should have been given more respect and props than he actually received.

I am a Cincinnati fan, always have been.  I use to watch games on TV and listened to all of the games, with Waite Hoyt drinkin’ Hudepohl’s and announcing the games.

I remember the teams back in the sixties very well.  I remember Crosley Field with a great deal of fondness.  Her terraces in the outfield in place of warning tracks, was a unique sight.  Pinson played that terrace as well as anybody whoever attempted it.

Pinson was 19 years old when he broke into the big leagues on Apr. 15, 1958, with the Cincinnati Reds.  Gus Bell was their starting center fielder, so Pinson had to watch for a little while, appearing in only 27 games.

Pinson got a break in 1959 when Frank Robinson moved from left field to first base.  Jerry Lynch moved to left, and Bell went to right, leaving Pinson to patrol center field.  He played every game that year.

During that full campaign, Pinson batted .316 with 20 HRs and 84 RBI.  He also had 205 hits and led the league in runs scored with 131, doubles with 47, plate appearances with 706 and 648 official ABs.

Pinson was honored that year by being selected to the National League All-Star team. He was also chosen to play in the Midsummer Classic in 1960. That would be the end of the accolades for Pinson.  He did manage to be awarded with a Gold Glove 1n 1961, when the Reds won the pennant.

In his 18-year career, Pinson batted over .300 four times.  He had more than 200 hits four different times, twice leading the league in that category.  He led the league in doubles twice, and in triples on two different occasions.

Pinson smashed 20 HRs or more seven times, and he knocked in more than 100 runs twice.

The closest he came to a Most Valuable Player Award was in 1961 when he led the league with 208 hits.  Pinson finished third in the voting that year.

Am I making a push for the Hall of Fame for Vada Pinson?  No, I am not saying he was that good, but I will say there are many enshrined there with stats that will not stand as tall as his.

Robinson, Vada’s teammate at Cincinnati for eight years, until Robby was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, has gone so far as to say Pinson should have been elected to the Hall of Fame.

I don’t think Pinson has had his fair share of praise over the years.

He hit 256 HRs during his career, along with 1170 RBI.  Pinson got 2,757 hits, scored 1366 runs, and batted .286.

Pinson’s 162 game averages for his career are 17 HRs, 77 RBI.  He averaged 180 hits and 90 runs.

He was also a very good base runner, stealing 20 or more nine times.  His career high in stolen bases is 32.  He was in the 20/20 club five times.

A splendid career by a man who did his job everyday, put up some great numbers and has two All-Star selections to show for it.

Underrated? You tell me.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report

MLB: Top Five Pitchers with the Best Five-Year Averages of All Time

I thought this would be an interesting list because of some recent debates I’ve had here about Sandy Koufax and his best five years.

Oh, he had a great five years and he finished on a high note and left on top of the game. That is why we remember it so vividly, and hold it in so high regard.

But, was it the best five years ever?

I did extensive research, using Wins, ERA, Strikeouts and WHIP. The five years did not have to be consecutive, I simply chose the best five.

I was surprised by two of the top five on the list.

Read on and see which pitcher had the best five years of all time.

No. 5—Jack Chesbro

When I was a kid, I was always told that Jack Chesbro had the record for most wins in a single season with 41.

That is not true. He actually is tied for 25th on the all-time list. Old Hoss Radbourn has the record with 59. There are two others with more than 50 wins in a season.

After backing up and shaking my head in disbelief, I decided to limit this list to the 20th Century forward.

The seasons that I chose as a sampling for Chesbro are 1901-1904, and 1906.

Jack Chesbro comes in at No. 5 on the list with a five-year average as follows:

27W—12L, 2.42 ERA, 160 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.087.


No. 4—Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens, love him or hate him, comes in at No. 4.

The problem is, with Roger we don’t know when he was juiced and when he wasn’t. Very hard when you try and compile a list.

The seasons I sampled for Roger are 1986, 1987, 1990, 1997, and 1998.

For those five years, Clemens averaged 21W—7L, an ERA of 2.41, 253 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.070.

Roger won a Major League-best seven Cy Young Awards, along with one Most Valuable Player Award.

No. 3—Randy Johnson

Coming in at third on our list is Randy Johnson.

The “Big Unit” is still compiling his statistics. He is definitely one of the best ever. His greatness is behind him and it was indeed great.

He won five Cy Young Awards, and he won them in both leagues.

The best years of his career were 1995, 1997, and 2000-2002.

Randy’s averages for those five years are:

20W-5L, a 2.44 ERA, one “list-leading” 327 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.051.

No. 2—Sandy Koufax

In the No. 2 slot on our list will come as a shock to many of you. Koufax’s best five years are thought by many to be the best ever.

As you can see, there is one better.

The years I picked for Sandy are 1960 and 1961-1965.

Sandy won three Cy Young Awards and one Most Valuable Player Award in his illustrious, albeit short career.

His five year average is:

23W-8L, a very fine ERA of 2.18, 299 strikeouts, and a “list-leading” WHIP of 0.962.

No. 1—Walter Johnson

Your winner with the best five-year average of all time is Walter “Big Train” Johnson.

Walter’s 417 career wins are second only to Cy Young’s 511. Of course, that statistic wouldn’t get you a cup of coffee on this list.

The “Big Train” won two Most Valuable Player Awards, and obviously played prior to the establishment of the Cy Young Award.

Walter’s best five years were 1912-1914, 1916, and 1918.

His average for those five years are:

A “list-leading” 29 wins against 14 losses, an amazing “list-leading” ERA of 1.48, 236 strikeouts, and a “list-leading” WHIP of 0.923

There you have it folks, the best averages for five years ever.

It may be worthy to note that Cy Young averaged 34 wins in his best five seasons, although he was blown away in strikeouts and WHIP.

So now you know. If someone says to you that Koufax had arguably the best five years of all time, say to them, “Let’s argue.”

The 10 Worst MVP Picks in MLB History

Since the inception of the MVP award in 1931, people have sat at bars and discussed who was the best player in a particular year. There have been debates, arguments, fistfights, and maybe even shootings concerning MVP choices.

One good example is 2007. I was certain Matt Holliday should and would win the National League MVP award. So I was ready to fight when Jimmy Rollins won it by a landslide.

Not that Rollins had a bad year; it was obviously great. I just felt Holliday’s was better, and he led the Rockies to the World Series.

Believe me when I tell you that pennants are a big determining factor in whether a player wins it or not.

As a side note, I had a preconceived notion that Maury Wills would be high on my list. However, after research, I determined that, indeed, he was worthy.

So much for the preamble, now let’s get on with the show.  I give you the 10 worst MVP picks in baseball history.

10. Rollie Fingers1981Milwaukee BrewersRP

Here we go with a reliever winning the MVP award. Rollie was 6-3 with an ERA of 1.04. He did have a league-leading 28 saves.

This is great for “Fireman of the Year,” but not MVP.

I realize this season was shortened because of a players’s strike, but there were still better numbers than that.

Steve McCatty of the Oakland A’s won a league-high 14 games and posted a very good ERA of 2.33. He threw a league best four shutouts in only 22 starts.

He came in a dismal 13th place in MVP voting, but he gets mine.

My Pick: Steve McCatty.

9.  Willie Hernandez1984Detroit TigersRP

Willie Hernandez was only 9-3 with a 1.92 ERA and won the American League MVP award in 1984. He did have 32 saves, although the only categories he lead the league in were games and games finished.

I have always been clear on this. Not only do I not think relief pitchers should not be eligible for MVP consideration, but I don’t think they should qualify for the Cy Young award either. They have the “Rolaids” Fireman of the Year, or whatever it is called now.

At any rate, other than the ERA, these stats do not cast a long enough shadow.

Don Mattingly was the obvious choice that year.  He hit 23 HR, had 110 RBI, and batted a league best .343. He also had a league high 207 hits and scored 91 runs. “Donnie Baseball” also led the league in doubles with 44.

If the Yankees had won the pennant, do you think Mattingly might have won it?

My Pick: Don Mattingly.

8.  Kirk Gibson1988Los Angeles DodgersOF

Kirk Gibson won the National League MVP award in 1988 with 25 HR, 76 RBI, and batted only .290. He had 157 hits and scored 106 runs.

The Dodgers won the pennant that year.  The voting supposedly takes place prior to the World Series, but that would have seemed to be his only redeeming quality that year.

“I can’t believe he won the MVP,” is what Jack Buck should have said.

If I see another video of Kirk doing the “chainsaw,” I think I’ll puke.

Will Clark of the Giants should have won the award. He hit 29 home runs, led the league with 109 RBI, and batted .282. Will also had 162 hits and scored 102 runs. He led the league in walks and intentional walks.

My Pick: Will Clark

7.  Nellie Fox1959Chicago White Sox2B

In 1959, second baseman Nellie Fox won the American League MVP award with a .306 average. He also hit 2 HR with 70 RBI, 191 hits, and scored 84 runs.

The only categories Nellie led that season were games and at bats.

Rocky Colavito of the Indians hit a league best 42 HR, knocked in 111, and scored 90 runs.

Harvey Kuenn of the Tigers led the league with a .353 average. He also led the league in hits with 198 and in doubles with 42 while scoring 99 runs.  Kuenn came in eighth in the AL voting that year.

My Pick: Harvey Kuenn.


6.  Zoilo Versalles1965Minnesota TwinsSS

Zoilo hit 19 HR, 77 RBI, and batted a shining .273. He also had 182 hits.

He led the league in runs, doubles, and triples. He also led the league in a dubious category—strikeouts.

The Twins did win the pennant that year, but he didn’t even have the best season on his own team.

Teammate Tony Oliva should have won the award that year.  He led the league with a .321 average, hit 16 HR, and drove in 98 runs.  He led the league in hits with 185 and also scored 107 runs.

My Pick: Tony Oliva.

5.  Dick Groat1960Pittsburgh PiratesSS

Dick Groat led the National League in batting in 1960 with a .325 average.

I guess he won the MVP award because he had the best year of the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

He also hit two home runs and had 50 RBI. Dick had 186 hits and scored 85 runs.  Surely those weren’t the best stats anyone else put up that year.

Ernie Banks hit 41 homers, Hank Aaron knocked in 126, and Bill Bruton scored 112.

Willie Mays was the true MVP that year. He hit 29 HR, 103 RBI, and batted .319. He also led the league with 190 hits and scored 107 runs.

My Pick: Willie Mays.

4.  Jim Konstanty1950Philadelphia PhilliesP

Jim Konstanty was the MVP in the National League in 1950 with a 16-7 record and an ERA of 2.66. He also had a league leading 22 saves.

The only other categories in which Jim led the league were games and games finished.

Maybe it was just a bad year all across the board.

Nope. Warren Spahn won a league high 21 games for the Braves, while winning the second leg of the Triple Crown with 191 strikeouts.

Jim Hearn won the ERA title that year with an ERA of 2.49. Stan Musial hit 29 HR with 108 RBI while batting a league best .346. Stan also scored 105 runs.

Ralph Kiner led the league that year with 47 homers.

My Pick: Stan Musial.

3.  Frankie Frisch1931St. Louis Cardinals2B

This was the inaugural year for the MVP award, so maybe they didn’t know what they were supposed to do.

Frankie did lead the league in stolen bases with 28, but that was it.

He batted .311 with four homers and 82 RBI. He had 161 hits and scored 91 runs—not MVP-type numbers.

Of course, the Cardinals won the pennant that year, and you know, boys and girls, that speaks volumes.

Chuck Klein of the Phillies had an MVP year if there ever was one. He led the league in HR with 31, in RBI with 121, runs with 121, slugging with .584, and total bases with 347. He also batted .337 and had 200 hits.

My Pick—hands down: Chuck Klein.


2.  Marty “Slats” Marion1944St. Louis CardinalsSS

In 1944, Marty Marion won the MVP award in the National League with arguably the worst statistics ever.

He hit six HR, knocked in 63, and had a batting average of .267. He had only 135 hits and only scored 50 runs.

What happened?

Do you think the Cardinals won the pennant that year?  Good going, Spanky.

Bill Nicholson won two legs of the Triple Crown with 33 HR and 122 RBI. He also led the league in runs with 116 and total bases with 317.

Dixie Walker led the league in batting with an average of .357.

Marion did not lead the league in any categories whatsoever.

The writers must have been smoking the Chinese pipe during that vote.

The writers made a very bad choice in my opinion, but wait: The worst is yet to come.

My Pick: Bill Nicholson

1.  Mickey Cochrane1934Detroit TigersC

Mickey Cochrane of the Detroit Tigers won the MVP award in the American League in 1934 with a .320 batting average.

He also powered two homers and knocked in 76. He had 140 hits and scored 70 runs.

He didn’t lead the league in anything.

Because the Yankees came in second that year, one of the biggest robberies in MLB history took place.

Lou Gehrig won the Triple Crown with an average of .363, while hitting 44 HR and driving in 165. Lou also led the league in OBP, slugging percentage, and total bases.

What a ripoff.  That is your winner, folks.

My Pick: Lou Gehrig.

The National and American Leagues took an equal beating in this article.  Five bad choices each.  It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened.

How about you? What do you think was the most infamous ripoff in history?


Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.