We’re back for another edition of MLB Mondays, everyone’s favorite thing to start off the new week. Right? Indeed, as we reach the midpoint of the 1920s, and the game is becoming more exciting for the masses as the nation enjoys the Roaring Twenties.
Who are this year’s award winners? See below …
1925 American League MVP: Roger Peckinpaugh (original), Al Simmons (revised)
Washington Senators shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh won the MVP Award, despite compiling just 2.6 WAR. This is a pretty embarrassing award to look at in retrospect, but even at the time, it was just silly. His .746 OPS was wasn’t even league average for his position (91 OPS+), and even if his defense was stellar (Peckinpaugh was not in the Top 10 MLB for dWAR), that’s not an MVP player at all.
The Senators won the pennant by 8.5 games, and maybe the voters thought someone from the team had to win the award. But Peckinpaugh finished ninth on his own team in WAR, so there’s that to think about in this analysis.
Focusing forward: The four best position players in the AL were Detroit Tigers right fielder Harry Heilmann (6.9 WAR), Philadelphia Athletics center fielder Al Simmons (6.6), Cleveland Indians center fielder Tris Speaker (6.5 WAR at age 37), and Washington left fielder Goose Goslin (6.4).
The A’s finished in second place, while the Tigers were 16.5 games out of first place—and Cleveland finished a whopping 27.5 games behind Washington. This really makes Simmons and Goslin our frontrunners, and the Senators were loaded, in general. Goslin’s season isn’t great enough to just clinch him the award, so let’s look more closely at both the Philadelphia roster and Simmons.
At age 23, Simmons led the circuit in hits (253) and total bases (392) while hitting .387 overall with 129 RBI, and he did finish second in the MVP vote. He would be a big cog in the foundation for the A’s three straight AL pennants ahead (1929-1931), and he was clearly already a force in the game. Meanwhile, Goslin didn’t garner a single MVP vote, despite leading the league in triples (20) and hitting .334 overall with 113 RBI and 27 stolen bases.
We are going to go with Simmons for this award, since Goslin had more help, overall, and the A’s young star was actually the better player as well.
1925 National League MVP: Rogers Hornsby (original, confirmed)
The Pittsburgh Pirates won the pennant by 8.5 games over the New York Giants, and Pirates right fielder Kiki Cuyler was the second-best position player in the league (6.8 WAR). He led the NL in runs (144) and triples (26) while hitting .357 overall. He was the best player on the best team—and he finished second in the actual MVP vote at the time.
St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Rogers Hornsby won the award while posting 10.2 WAR for the fourth-place team that finished 18.5 games out. He won the Triple Crown by hitting .403 with 39 home runs and 143 RBI, in addition to leading the NL in on-base percentage (.489), slugging percentage (.756), OPS (1.245), and total bases (381) as well.
Winning the Triple Crown is historic, and it’s hard to ignore that achievement for a guy on a team that finished above .500 overall—not to mention the sabermetric stats, too. That’s good enough for us to give the Rajah his sixth MVP award in our MLB Mondays series.
1925 AL Cy Young: Stan Coveleski
The New York Yankees finished 69-85 on the year, 28.5 games out of first, which eliminates Herb Pennock from earning a second straight Cy Young, despite the fact he led the AL in pitching WAR (6.6). This debate comes down to Washington’s Stan Coveleski (6.3) and the Philadelphia duo of Slim Harriss (6.0) and Eddie Rommel (5.5).
The Senators benefitted from the acquisition of Coveleski from Cleveland, where he won our 1920 Cy Young analysis. He led the league in ERA (2.84) while winning 20 games and pitching 241 innings for the pennant winners. Harriss didn’t lead the league in anything, while Rommel topped the circuit in wins (21).
Coveleski did have support in the rotation from Walter Johnson, who posted 4.9 WAR on the mound (and another 1.8 WAR at the plate, as he hit .433 with 20 RBI at age 37!). But generally, Coveleski was the best pitcher on the best team in the league, and his WAR was second best, too. That meets our standards for giving the award in years like this.
1925 NL Cy Young: Dolf Luque
Four NL pitchers stood out in terms of WAR: Eppa Rixey (6.5), Dolf Luque (6.3), Pete Donohue (6.1), and Dazzy Vance (6.0). The first threw tossed their stuff for the Cincinnati Reds, and Vance pitched for Brooklyn. Remember, Luque won this award in 1923, and Vance won it in 1924.
The Reds finished a mere third in the league, 15 games out, while Brooklyn finished 27 games behind the pennant-winning Pirates. This leaves us with a big dilemma, of course, since if three studs from Cincy couldn’t power that team any closer, the rest of the team must have been really bad. Vance is out, because the Robins were just garbage.
Rixey is not a serious contender, because he led the league in nothing other than WAR; we suspect the 287 1/3 innings he threw contributed greatly to his status there. Luque had a great season, topping the NL in ERA (2.63), shutouts (4), WHIP (1.172), and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (8.1).
Donohue also did some stellar stuff, outdoing everyone in the league in complete games (27), innings pitched (301), and fewest HRs allowed per nine (0.1). That combo of most innings and fewest HRs allowed per nine is impressive.
Combining sabermetric and traditional analysis, we will comfortably choose Luque here.