In the last full season before World War II military conscription decimated the MLB ranks, we have a fun analysis ahead on MLB Monday. It’s one of those years when we ask, “What were the voters thinking?!”
To see what we mean, just read on …
1942 American League MVP: Joe Gordon (original), Ted Williams (revised)
The New York Yankees won the pennant by 9 games over the Boston Red Sox, and it does not matter as Boston left fielder Ted Williams (10.4) led all major leagues in WAR by a wide margin. The next-best position player in the AL was New York second baseman Joe Gordon (7.7).
One season after hitting .406, the Splendid Splinter followed it up with a Triple Crown. He led the league in numerous offensive categories: runs (142), home runs (36), RBI (137), walks (145), batting average (.356), on-base percentage (.499), slugging percentage (.648), OPS (1.147), and total bases (338).
While Gordon had a fine season—hitting .322 with 103 RBI, while also “leading” the AL in strikeouts (95) and double plays grounded in to (22)—it is a true crime that Williams was not voted this MVP Award at the time.
1942 National League MVP: Mort Cooper (original), Enos Slaughter (revised)
The St. Louis Cardinals outlasted the Brooklyn Dodgers by two games for the NL pennant, and no other team finished closer than 20 games behind the Cards. That shrinks our MVP pool of candidates, thoroughly, and with a pitcher having won the original vote, we definitely get to revise this award.
The top 4 position players in the league were New York Giants right fielder Mel Ott (7.1 WAR)—our MVP pick in 1934 and 1936—followed by St. Louis RF Enos Slaughter (6.8), Giants first baseman Johnny Mize (6.3), and Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese (6.1).
The Giants finished 20 games back, and Ott’s season is not dominant to warrant consideration, and so neither is Mize’s year, obviously. It comes down to Slaughter and Reese—and their league-leading numbers:
- Slaughter: 188 hits, 17 triples, 292 TB
- Reese: 3.6 dWAR
Basically, we have polar opposites here: Slaughter posted a .906 OPS with a negative dWAR, while Reese posted a .681 OPS with a top dWAR. To err on the side of caution, we will go with the top overall WAR earner who also played for the slightly better team: Slaughter.
1942 AL Cy Young: Tex Hughson
The top 3 pitchers in the league were Boston’s Tex Hughson (6.2 WAR) and two pitchers from Detroit Tigers, a team that finished 30 games out and well under .500 on the year. This gives the award to Hughson almost by default.
His AL-best numbers on the season, for the record: 22 wins, 22 complete games, 281 innings pitched, and 113 strikeouts. He also posted a 2.59 ERA and 1.185 WHIP.
1942 NL Cy Young: Mort Cooper
St. Louis ace Mort Cooper (8.2 WAR) well out-distanced the next-best NL pitcher by 2.8 WAR, making this award all his—also via (informal) default. His 22 wins, 1.78 ERA, 10 shutouts, and 0.987 WHIP all topped the league during the 1942 season.
This was the best year of Cooper’s MLB tenure, as he also posted career-high numbers in IP (278 2/3) and Ks (152).