We’re a dozen entries into MLB Mondays, and that means we have the odd season where just the American League had a chosen MVP—not the National League. We will explore that one winner in our analysis below, of course, but that’s still a weird idea, you know?
Read on to find out who won the awards in 1922 …
1922 American League MVP: George Sisler (original, confirmed)
St. Louis Browns teammates George Sisler (first base) and Ken Williams (outfielder) topped the AL in WAR with 8.7 and 7.9 marks, respectively. The New York Yankees won the pennant by one game over the Browns, so it’s clear Sisler and Williams both carried St. Louis all season. Outfielder Babe Ruth was the Yankees best player at 6.3 WAR, by the way, an off year for him, to be sure, as he only played in 110 games.
Cleveland center fielder Tris Speaker (6.9) and Detroit center fielder Ty Cobb (6.7) finished between Williams and Ruth in WAR, but Cleveland ended up 16 games behind the Yankees, and the Tigers were only one game better than Cleveland.
Let’s be honest, too: If Ruth had played a full season, the Yankees probably would have won the pennant by more than a single game. Is that value? Yes. Can we give the MVP to a guy who played just two thirds of the season? No.
Between Sisler and Williams, a few things stands out: Both men were plus defenders (0.7 dWAR for Williams; 0.6 dWAR for Sisler), and both men lead the AL in multiple offensive categories worth noting. Williams topped the circuit in HRs (39), RBI (155), and total bases (367), but overall, Sisler did have the better season, so he nabs his first AL MVP award. That’s what league-leading stats like the .420 average, 134 runs, 246 hits, 18 triples, and 51 steals can do for a guy’s value.
1922 National League MVP: Rogers Hornsby
The St. Louis Cardinals finished in fourth place, eight games behind the pennant-winning New York Giants, but Cards second baseman Rogers Hornsby (10.0 WAR) easily was the best player in the league, by a big margin, over the next-best player, Giants shortstop Dave Bancroft (6.1 WAR). It’s simple to give the Rajah his third straight NL MVP award, and fourth overall.
For the record, Hornsby led the senior circuit in runs (141), hits (250), doubles (46), HRs (42), RBI (152), batting average (.401), on-base percentage (.459), slugging percentage (.722), OPS (1.181), and total bases (450). Triple Crowns should get MVP awards.
1922 AL Cy Young: Red Faber
Chicago White Sox ace Red Faber (9.6) once again led the junior circuit in pitching WAR by a lot, but his team finished 17 games out of first place. Here’s the dope, though: second place in WAR went to Philadelphia Athletics slinger Eddie Rommel (7.4), and the A’s finished 12 games behind Chicago!
The best pitchers on contending teams were Yankees star Bob Shawkey (7.2) and Browns ace Urban Shocker (7.1). The former led the AL in no pitching categories, while the latter did lead the league in strikeouts. Meanwhile, Faber topped the circuit in ERA (2.81), complete games (31), innings pitched (352), and WHIP (1.185).
Is the 2.5-WAR gap between Faber and the contending duo enough to warrant the award? It’s close, but we think neither Shawkey nor Shocker really dominated enough to earn the distinction. Faber takes home his second straight AL Cy Young award then.
1922 NL Cy Young: Wilbur Cooper
The Pittsburgh Pirates ended up in third place, eight games behind the Giants in the NL pennant race, and they were paced by the only two pitchers in the league under consideration for this award: Wilbur Cooper (6.5 WAR) and Johnny Morrison (6.3).
No other NL pitcher was in shouting distance, WAR wise, and between these two guys, it’s splitting hairs. Cooper led the league in complete games (27), while Morrison topped his peers in shutouts (5). Cooper tossed 8 1/3 more innings, overall, and he also had the better ERA by 0.25 runs. In an underwhelming season, he gets the slight nod here.