In this week’s Metro column, I boldly made the following claim:

[Manny] Ramirez is arguably the best active player to have never received an MVP award. He’s certainly the best active player to be so consistently snubbed; of similar players, he has the fewest top-five finishes without ever finishing in the top two.

But of course, Manny is far from the only great active player to never take home the trophy, and while I was cogitating about this column, I got to talking about these players with my co-conspirators here at UmpBump. We bandied about some other names of active players who have, amazingly enough, never won an MVP: Gary Sheffield and Jim Thome lead the pack, in my mind, and you could make a case for perennially beloved also-rans Derek Jeter and David Ortiz as well.

Sure, there are fantastic younger guys who haven’t won the trophy yet. But when it comes to the David Wrights, Chase Utleys, and Hanley Ramirezes of baseball, one can say, “Hey, he’s still young.” And there are deserving players who are always a long shot to take home the hardware simply by virtue of their position; most pitchers and designated hitters suffer this fate. (I’ve included Ortiz here on my list of snubs because a) yes, I’m a Red Sox fan and this is my list, you jerks and b) he’s finished in the top 5 of the MVP balloting for the past four years running—a neat trick for any player, even more so considering the entrenched bias among many members of the BBWAA against voting for a full-time DH.)

But with the Sheffs and the Mannys and the Thomes, it’s a different story. You can’t necessarily point to a certain year and say, “This is the year he deserved to win,” but you’re still surprised to learn he’s never gotten the trophy.

Of active players, who do you think is the biggest MVP snub? Anyone going to take a stand for Todd Helton? Or Mike Piazza, still technically active? Any secret Carlos Delgado fans out there?

Who gets your vote?

14 Responses to “The Best Active Players Yet to Win an MVP”

  1. I’ll second Sarah’s Buckner sentiment. That was surprisingly tear-jerking. Almost. Okay, maybe I cried.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    I was…misty. Managed to keep it inside the eyelid, though.

    Blink it back, Sarah! Blink it back!

  3. Lyndsay says:

    where can I find that new payroll list? I’m in the midst of making a point to a friend who is an O’s fan that payroll is not the reason that the sox won and that the O’s are going to blow it this year (that it’s their crappy front office, the lack of quality pitching, and overspending on has-been hitters), and the full list would really help.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Ah, Lyndsay. It’s the most useful thing ever, totally sortable in so many ways! Here you go.

    Having a bigger payroll increases your odds of getting to the playoffs (more room for error) but doesn’t actually seem to have much effect once you are in the playoffs.

  5. Lyndsay says:

    well really, I just don’t want any other team’s fans to enjoy being in first place, even for a week in April. He knows it’s gonna go south for them any moment now – I just felt like kicking my friend while he’s down. :-) And because I haven’t already taunted him enough with “30 to 3, no-hit by a ROOKIE, and Millar is practically begging to get traded back” every other day since last summer.

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    Aw man! Sarah, you didn’t include the message where Alejandro rickrolled you all!


  7. ok so I am not kidding…an oriole showed up on my lawn this morning as I was leaving for work, and I have never in my life seen one of those birds before. this came a mere 12 hours after schooling my friend, who’s an O’s fan. should I take that as a threat? some sort of omen?

  8. Sarah Green says:

    Lyndsay, I would watch out. Apparently, the birds know where you live!

  9. Paul Moro says:

    Wow… So many Manny fans…

  10. melissa says:

    I don’t think any of the players you listed have much of a chance to win an MVP at this point in their careers. Manny may be the one exception with an extremely outside chance. It may have hurt him that he didn’t hit more home runs considering his career spanned the steroids era when guys put up crazy HR numbers. Frank Thomas is another guy that probably should have won an MVP during his career but finished runner-up to the thong wearing ‘roid freak Giambi.
    The hall of fame rewards the consistently great players, the MVP award does not. I do wonder if there is a specific year you can point to when Manny was deserving and was snubbed. That would at least give some credence to saying he was in fact overlooked. Had he played his entire career in Boston he probably would have had a better chance to have won an MVP. He certainly would have gotten more media coverage than when he was in Cleveland.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    Actually Melissa, the Big Hurt has two MVPs on his resume! He took home the goods in 1993 and 1994.

    I get into the details of Manny’s specific case a little more in my column (linked above), but while there isn’t one specific year you can point to and say, “Here’s the year he deserved to win,” it is genuinely shocking looking through the MVP voting over the past several years and seeing guys like Shannon Stewart and Bret Boone finish above him. And then there are years like 2003, when Manny finished behind David Ortiz, even though Manny had a better year and even though a lot of voters won’t vote for Papi because he’s a full-time DH. It’s just mysterious to me that he’s only finished in the top five three times in his career, and that he’s never finished in the top two. If there is a given year that should’ve been his, I think it could’ve been 2002, but he missed six weeks with a broken finger and it’s pretty hard to win the MVP after that.

    While you see Manny finishing consistently below a few ‘roided up guys like Giambi, I think the bigger factor his is relative lack of media-relations skills. This is pure speculation, but I think part of the reason he has really opened up to the media over the past year or so is because he’s thinking more about his legacy. It’s like he suddenly realized that the writers he was snubbing were the guys who vote for the MVP and the Hall. After his silly fan high-five a few days ago, he had a revealing/hilarious quote:

    “I think that’s how you get your All-Star vote. I’m pretty sure that guy’s going to vote for me. One at a time, that’s how it’s going to happen.”

    Yes, and one glorious quote at a time, Manuel Aristides Ramirez inches ever closer to his MVP!

  12. melissa says:

    Manny has also had a reputation of being a defensive liability and that certainly had to have an effect on voters. In 1999, when still with Cleveland his numbers were right there with winner Pudge Rodriguez but defensively there is no comparison. If a guy is going to win the MVP on offense alone then he usually has to have numbers that are superior to the competition. Manny’s numbers have been consistent through out his career and to a certain extent that may have hurt him because people came to expect that from him. I still think it hurts him that he played in an era when juiced players were hitting over 50 home runs and he never got more than 46. I just don’t think you can say he was snubbed when there aren’t examples of seasons that he was clearly more deserving than the individual that actually won. He may not have been a media darling but a lot of media criticism he took was for playing poor defense and being lackadaisical on the field. The media seemed more critical of his “heart” than his disposition in the locker room. When you are perceived by the media as being a guy that doesn’t always try hard it does make it more difficult to get their votes for post season awards. The same media that is supposedly biased against Manny will undoubtedly vote him into the Hall of Fame even if he doesn’t high five them.

    As far as Big Hurt goes I totally forgot about him winning those MVPs. I should have checked the records. It just stuck out in my mind that he complained about losing out on an MVP to an admitted steroid user. The point I was making though was that there were years when steroid users over-shadowed guys that were more deserving. You mention Bret Boone and he is a guy that most likely had pharmaceutical assistance that led to a spike in his numbers.

  13. Sarah Green says:

    I agree with 99% of what you say, but I am going to harp on the other 1% of course. :) I think you can say Manny Ramirez has been snubbed when you look at his low number of top 5 finishes. A good example is the 2006 vote, in which Manny finished 18th. Look at his OPS and the OPSes of those who finished above him. I am picking on this point because when you look at his numbers, you think, “Damn, there’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer.” But usually those guys have not only won an MVP, they’ve had numerous other top-five finishes. Manny’s lack thereof sticks out like a sore thumb. He places somewhere in the voting almost every year, yet somehow he’s never the guy getting anyone’s first-place vote—probably a lot of it is due to other players having “help” and his less-than-stellar deefnse, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you blame it on the media being critical of his “heart.” Here’s a guy who loves the game so much that he takes the field looking like a five year-old at a birthday party, yet the media have ragged on him for lacking heart! Unbelievable. I think he seems like a man on a mission to change that this year, even if he has to campaign for it.

  14. chase utley; 4 consecutive years of 30+ homeruns, solid defense, nonstop hustle, and a great attitude.

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