We are moving past the World War II era now in our MLB Monday analyses, and this is the final column before we add Rookie of the Year awards to the weekly fun, too. Changes afoot as we move toward the final month of the craziest year on record (2020)!
On to the awards for this week …
1946 AL MVP: Ted Williams (original, confirmed)
This is an easy award to confirm: Boston won the AL pennant by 12 games over the Detroit Tigers, and Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams (10.6) led all AL position players by 3.5 WAR. His teammate, shortstop Johnny Pesky, was the next-closest player.
The Splendid Splinter led his peers in runs (142), walks (156), on-base percentage (.497), slugging percentage (.667), OPS (1.164), and total bases (343) while hitting .342 with 38 home runs and 123 RBI—impressive after a few years of service in the war flying fighter planes for the U.S. Army.
1946 NL MVP: Stan Musial (original, confirmed)
While not quite as dominant as Williams, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial (9.2) topped his league in WAR by 2.6 over Eddie Stanky, the Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman. The Cards also won the NL pennant by 2 games over Brooklyn, so every ounce of Musial’s value mattered.
Stan the Man posted league-best marks in runs (124), hits (228), doubles (50), triples (20), batting average (.365), SLG (.587), OPS (1.021), and TB (366). He added 16 HRs and 103 RBI to that stat line as well.
1946 AL Cy Young: Hal Newhouser
Cleveland Indians legend Bob Feller topped the AL pitching ranks with 10.0 WAR, but his team finished under .500 on the year and 36 games out of first place. Rapid Robert was the best pitcher (26 wins, 36 complete games, 10 shutouts, and 348 strikeouts), but he was not the most valuable one.
That honor goes to Tigers ace Hal Newhouser again: His 9.6 WAR was right behind Feller’s mark, and his team finished in second place, thanks to his league-leading numbers in wins (26), ERA (1.94), and WHIP (1.069). He also struck out 275 batters in 292 2/3 innings.
1946 NL Cy Young: Howie Pollet
Boston Braves star Johnny Sain was the best pitcher in terms of WAR (7.2), but his team finished 15.5 games behind the Cardinals. Meanwhile, St. Louis workhorse Howie Pollet was second in WAR (6.8). This makes him a wee bit more valuable, since the “quality’ gap wasn’t significant.
Pollet actually topped the NL in wins (21), ERA (2.10), and IP (266), while Sain was the best in the circuit for complete games (24) only. It could be argued that Pollet was still the better pitcher, despite the WAR bloat for Sain due to his 265 IP on a fourth-place team.