Enjoy today’s jaunt down baseball’s Memory Lane …
1932 American League MVP: Jimmie Foxx (original, confirmed)
The New York Yankees ended the three-year run of the Philadelphia Athletics atop the AL by winning the pennant, handily. The A’s finished 13 games behind in second place, while the Washington Senators (14 GB) and the Cleveland Indians (19 GB) finished within shouting distance. This could make our analysis interesting.
Three players separated themselves from the masses: A’s first baseman Jimmie Foxx (10.4 WAR), Yankees right fielder Babe Ruth (8.5), and N.Y first baseman Lou Gehrig (8.2). No one else in the league came within two wins of Gehrig, so this is our select group of MVP candidates.
The question is really about Foxx and contending value. He led the AL in runs (151), home runs (58), RBI (169), slugging percentage (.749), OPS (1.218), and total bases (438) while hitting .364 at the plate. He also walked 118 times.
Meanwhile, at age 37, Ruth topped the circuit in walks (130) and on-base percentage (.489), while still hitting .341 with 41 HRs and 137 RBI. As for Gehrig, who has yet to win an MVP Award in our analyses, he finished second in the vote at the time without leading the AL in any categories (except games played, of course).
Foxx’s season is dominant, especially when you look at that TB total, which outpaced everyone else in the league by 68 bases (Gehrig had 370). The A’s went just 8-14 against the Yankees, which is not inspiring, although New York pitching coughed up a 1.280 OPS to Foxx in those 22 games—his second-best number against an opponent on the season, and higher than his season total.
He gets to keep his MVP Award. For the record, this is the first time since 1923 we have confirmed an AL MVP winner.
1932 National League MVP: Chuck Klein (original, confirmed)
The Chicago Cubs won the pennant by 4 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the Brooklyn Dodgers (finally!) finished 9 games out. The Philadelphia Phillies were the only other team to finish above .500 at 78-76 (12 GB).
This affects our analysis here, as of the top-5 players in the NL, three played for losing teams. That makes it hard to consider New York Giants right fielder Mel Ott (8.3 WAR) and his first baseman teammate Bill Terry (7.6), when their team finished 72-82. Cincinnati Reds right fielder Babe Herman (6.4) also can’t rate here playing for a team that finished 30 games out of first place.
That leaves us with Phillies right fielder Chuck Klein (7.4) and Dodgers left fielder Lefty O’Doul (6.3) as the best bets for the MVP. Klein had the better season, by far, topping the NL in runs (152), hits (226), HRs (38), stolen bases (20), SLG (.646), OPS (1.050), and TB (420) while hitting .348 overall. Meanwhile, O’Doul merely led the league in hitting (.368) for the second (and final) batting title of his career.
It’s a rare double to be the best in both the HRs and SBs categories, and all the other numbers are just icing on the cake for Klein, really. Finishing 12 games out isn’t terrible, obviously, and where would the Phillies have been without Klein? For the record, this is just third time overall we have confirmed the NL MVP vote (see 1925 and 1929).
1932 AL Cy Young: Lefty Grove
A’s ace Lefty Grove posted the best pitching WAR (9.5) in MLB overall by 2.6 wins, as Cleveland star Wes Farrell was next best at 6.9 WAR. Grove topped the AL in ERA (2.84), complete games (27), shutouts (4), and WHIP (1.193). He also notched 25 wins and 7 saves.
There really isn’t anything else to discuss, as Grove wins his sixth Cy overall and fifth straight in our analyses. He is now tied with Pete Alexander for the most Cy Youngs in our revisionist history here.
1932 NL Cy Young: Lon Warneke
Cubs starter Lon Warneke was the best pitcher in the league (6.9 WAR), and his team won the pennant. He led the NL in wins (22), ERA (2.37), and shutouts (4), as well. He edged out Giants ace Carl Hubbell (6.8 WAR) for the best sabermetric value in the league, and we have to wonder how New York was so bad with so many great players on the roster.
But we digress: That is not our job here. St. Louis Cardinals legend Dizzy Dean was the third-bast pitcher in the NL (5.9 WAR) during his rookie season, but his team stunk (18 GB, tied with the Giants). Belated congratulations to Warneke on his Cy Young season!