This is the fourth installment in our MLB Monday series on awards analysis in baseball history. The methodology is explained here, and we’re getting right to it with the award analysis—ignoring the Federal League during these mid-1910s due to the goofy stats very out of place with the MLB equivalents.
1914 American League MVP: Eddie Collins (original winner), Tris Speaker (revised winner)
Second baseman Collins won our revised award in 1913, and he is one of only two AL position players under consideration in 1914, as well, after he hit .344 with 97 walks, 85 RBI, and 58 SBs. He also led the AL in runs scored (122), as the Philadelphia Athletics won the pennant by 8.5 games over the Boston Red Sox. Meanwhile, centerfielder Tris Speaker helped those Sox to that second-place finish with a .338 average, 90 RBI, 77 walks, and 42 SBs. He also led the league in doubles (46) and hits (193). Collins has a 0.5 edge in WAR when you consider hitting only, but he registered a negative dWAR mark (-0.1) this year, which is mediocre at best, and that enabled the better-glovin’ Speaker to overpass him in overall WAR (10.0 to 9.0). To us, you have to be solid on defense to win this in a close one, and that’s why Speaker takes the award away from Collins in 1914, especially with center being such a key defensive position. It’s telling that Speaker finished 12th in the MVP vote. This is why we’re here doing this, folks.
1914 National League MVP: Johnny Evers (original winner), George Burns (revised winner)
Second baseman Evers won this award with just 4.9 WAR, which is pretty low, in general, for any potential MVP candidate. In his first season with the Boston Braves after many seasons with the Chicago Cubs—for which he is more famous—Evers hit just .279 with 40 RBI, although he did walk 87 times and steal 12 bases. His team also won the pennant by 10.5 games, though, which is perhaps why this ended up being a career-achievement vote for him. In comparison, however, New York Giants outfielder George Burns compiled 6.5 WAR for his second-place team by hitting .303 with 89 walks, 62 SBs, and 60 RBI. The steals led the league, as did Burns’ run-scored total (100). Evers didn’t lead the league in anything. Two things clinch this debate: First, Evers’ teammate Rabbit Maranville finished second in the NL in WAR (5.0), proving himself more valuable to the Braves (mostly based on his incredible 4.2 dWAR effort at shortstop); and second, in looking at Pythagorean projections for the Braves and the Giants, both teams should have finished with roughly the same number of wins. Boston just got some luck, and it was slightly more Rabbit’s value than Evers’ value that provided that edge.
1914 AL Cy Young: Walter Johnson
The Big Train takes a third consecutive Cy Young with another outstanding campaign (11.7 WAR), although not as good as his previous two seasons. Johnson posted 28 wins, a 1.72 ERA, 33 complete games, nine shutouts and 225 strikeouts for the third-place Washington Senators. He led the AL in wins, starts, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, and Ks. That’s a Cy season. The only other legitimate contender was Boston’s Dutch Leonard: He posted a stunning 0.96 ERA and an 0.886 WHIP in 224 2/3 innings for 9.4 WAR on the year. Leonard, however, tossed almost 150 fewer innings than Johnson, and that says something to us about what a workhorse the Big Train was in 1914.
1914 NL Cy Young: Pete Alexander
For the first time in our series, the winner of this award is not New York Giants ace Christy Mathewson. Shocking! It is finally Alexander’s turn to shine in the Cy spotlight after pitching so well in Mathewson’s shadow. Even though he pitched for a mediocre Philadelphia squad that finished 20.5 games behind the Braves, Alexander still led the NL in pitching WAR (8.7) over Boston’s Bill James (7.8) and Brooklyn’s Jeff Pfeffer (7.6). The former led the NL in winning percentage, while the latter topped the circuit in no statistical categories. Meanwhile, Alexander led the league in wins, complete games, innings pitched, and strikeouts. We know the Dodgers and the Phillies were afterthoughts in the pennant chase, but it’s hard to ignore that dominant of a season—so we will not be doing so, in the absence of better candidates from better teams.