We have reached 1983 on MLB Monday, as we continue our march toward the present day in this series, which should conclude sometime sometime next summer—it’s surely the longest-running of our throwback features, which we started in late March 2020. Time beats on, with baseball at its heart, right?
This is a fun season to analyze, as we were really big baseball fans by this time in our own lives, so this all feels like it happened yesterday to us. Sort of.
1983 AL MVP: Cal Ripken, Jr. (original, confirmed)
The top 5 position players in the junior circuit were Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. (8.2 WAR)—our 1982 AL ROTY winner—followed by Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs (7.8), Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Robin Yount (7.3), Oakland Athletics left fielder Rickey Henderson (6.9), and Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker (6.7). Yount won this award in 1982, while Henderson won it from us in 1981.
Ripken won the vote at the time, as the Orioles won the AL East by 6 games over the Tigers. That drops Whitaker from serious consideration. Boston finished 20 games back, so Boggs is out, too. The Brewers were 11 games behind the Orioles, so Yount doesn’t have a shot, either. Meanwhile, in the AL West, the A’s came in 25 games behind the Chicago White Sox. Ripken keeps this hardware, easily, by default, really.
His traditionals: The second-year star led the league in runs (121), hits (211), and doubles (47) while hitting .318 overall with an .888 OPS and 2.3 dWAR, which was sixth overall in MLB. He was an all-around leader for the AL East Division winners.
1983 NL MVP: Dale Murphy (original), Mike Schmidt (revised)
Meanwhile, the top 5 position players in the senior circuit were Houston Astros shortstop Dickie Thon (7.4), Atlanta Braves center fielder Dale Murphy (7.1), Montréal Expos catcher Gary Carter (7.1), Philadelphia Phillies Mike Schmidt (6.9), and Expos center fielder Andre Dawson (6.9). Murphy won his second NL MVP vote in a row, although the Braves finished 3 games behind the NL West-winning Los Angeles Dodgers.
Houston finished 6 games out in the NL West, while the Phillies won the NL East by 6 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates and 8 games over Montréal. The two Expos cancel each other out, so Schmidt rises to the top of the pile, as neither Thon nor Murphy played for division winners. Without Schmitty, Philadelphia doesn’t win the NL East, so that’s the done deal in terms of revising this award.
His traditionals at age 33: 40 home runs, 128 walks, and a .399 OBP all led the league, while his .923 OPS produced an NL-best 156 OPS+ mark. His 0.8 dWAR contributed to his overall season as well, in helping the Phillies win the division once again. This is his fourth NL MVP trophy in our estimation (1977, 1978, 1980).
1983 AL Cy Young: LaMarr Hoyt (original), Dave Stieb (revised)
White Sox starter LaMarr Hoyt (3.7 WAR) won the AL Cy vote, but he won’t be getting this award from us. Six AL pitchers meet our Cy standards, however: Toronto Blue Jays ace Dave Stieb (7.0), who won this award in this space last year; Kansas City Royals closer Dan Quisenberry (5.5); Orioles veteran Scott McGregor (5.3); New York Yankees legend Ron Guidry (5.3); Seattle Mariners rookie Matt Young (5.1); and Chicago youngster Rich Dotson (5.1).
New York was 7 games behind the Orioles, while Toronto finished 9 games behind Baltimore. Meanwhile, Kansas City was second in the AL West—20 games behind the White Sox. That all but eliminates Quiz. The Mariners won just 60 games to post the worst record in the league, as well, so Young is out. We are left with Stieb, McGregor, Guidry, and Dotson then. That simplifies this a bit, for starters.
Baltimore probably would have won the AL East without McGregor, but his value is solid. While Stieb was by far the “best” pitcher, his value takes a hit for the team finish. Guidry is in the same boat as Stieb, with much weaker performance levels, though. Dotson has no value, really, in the sense that his team ran away with the division title by 20 games. To us, this comes down to Stieb and McGregor then:
- Stieb: 17-12, 3.04 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 187 Ks, 278 IP
- McGregor: 18-7, 3.18, 1.215 WHIP, 86 Ks, 260 IP
We will note that McGregor actually coughed up 271 hits on the year, too, so he was clearly the beneficiary of a great defense behind him. We’re going to give Stieb this award, again, for pitching really well and carrying his team to a decent finish in a tough AL East Division race, while McGregor clearly was carried by his team.
1983 NL Cy Young: John Denny (original, confirmed)
Phillies journeyman John Denny topped all MLB pitchers with 7.4 WAR, and his team won the division by 6 games. That all but clinches this award for him, after he won the NL Cy vote at the time, too. The next-best pitcher in the league was Cincinnati Reds star Mario Soto (6.8), and no one else topped 5.5 WAR in the senior circuit. With the Reds finishing last in the NL West with just 74 wins, this is an open-and-shut case for Denny.
His traditionals: 19-6, 2.37 ERA, 1.162 WHIP, 139 Ks, 242 2/3 IP, and only 0.3 HRs allowed per 9 IP, which led the NL in that category. Denny coughed up just 9 dingers all season, which is pretty impressive.
1983 AL ROTY: Ron Kittle (original), Mike Boddicker (revised)
White Sox left fielder Ron Kittle (1.9 WAR) won the AL ROTY vote despite posting -1.1 dWAR, just because he hit 35 HRs and drove in 100 runs—while topping the AL in strikeouts (150), too. Ridiculous. Meanwhile, Orioles rookie starter Mike Boddicker (4.1) is the one who really deserved this award for posting a 16-8 record and a 2.77 ERA with an AL-best 5 shutouts. He also led the league in fewest hits allowed per 9 IP (7.1).
Young obviously had a higher WAR, but the Mariners were a joke, so his stats—11 wins, 3.27 ERA, 130 Ks—were compiled in the proverbial vacuum.
1983 NL ROTY: Darryl Strawberry (original), Craig McMurtry (revised)
New York Mets right fielder Darryl Strawberry won the NL ROTY vote despite finishing sixth (2.6 WAR) among the qualifying rookies in the league for WAR, while playing for a team that finished with the worst record (68-94) in the NL. Why? Guess? Yes, because he hit 26 HRs. It’s crazy to think how shallow the voters were in the not-too-distant past.
Meanwhile, these five guys were “better” than Strawberry: Astros second baseman Bill Doran (4.8); Braves starter Craig McMurtry (4.7); Chicago Cubs center fielder Mel Hall (3.0); Pirates starter José DeLeón (2.9); and Reds left fielder Gary Redus (2.8). We know the Braves and the Astros finished close to the top of the NL West standings, while Pittsburgh came in second among NL East teams. Meanwhile, the Cubs won just 71 games.
Knowing the Reds were terrible, this comes down to Doran, McMurtry, and DeLeón in the end. The Braves rookie tossed more than twice as many innings as DeLeón, in truth, with his team finishing closer to first, so it’s between Doran and McMurtry. With the WAR advantage for Doran being minimal, we’re going to give this trophy to the Atlanta rookie for more value to the better team. His traditionals: 15-9, 3.08 ERA, and 3 SOs in 224 2/3 IP.