Back in 1984 today on MLB Monday, and as these years roll on forward, we find ourselves feeling more nostalgic for the golden age of our sports fandom. Every season we look at floods back with some serious memories of the real-time experience of living through it. We have become our own primary source(s), as the historians say, right?
This season also marks the last time the Detroit Tigers won a World Series, too, if you can believe that.
1984 AL MVP: Willie Hernández (original), Cal Ripken, Jr. (revised)
Tigers closer Willie Hernández somehow won both the MVP and Cy votes, and we will see about the latter later, but we know he’s not going to be the MVP pick here. The top position players in the AL were Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. (10.0 WAR), Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Lloyd Moseby (7.3), Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray (7.1), and Detroit shortstop Alan Trammell (6.7).
Detroit ran away with the AL East title, beating out Toronto by 15 games and Baltimore by 19 games. Yet the Orioles still had a better record than the AL West winners from Kansas City—the only team in that division to finish over .500 for the year. Ripken, who won the vote last year and was confirmed by us, also had a historic season here with double-digit WAR action.
So, he’s going to get a second MVP nod from us here for the following traditionals: .304 batting average, 27 HRs, 86 RBI, .884 OPS, and an MLB-high 3.6 dWAR. That was the best dWAR season in his storied career, and he didn’t even win the Gold Glove. He also finished just 27th in the MVP voting. Pretty ridiculous, if you ask us, to overlook this historic season on all levels. Shame on the voters at the time!
1984 NL MVP: Ryne Sandberg (original, confirmed)
Our top 5 players in the senior circuit were Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg (8.6 WAR), Montréal Expos catcher Gary Carter (7.5), Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt (7.0), Expos CF Tim Raines (6.5), and San Diego Padres right fielder Tony Gwynn (6.3). With the Cubs winning the NL East by 6.5 games, it’s going to be easy to confirm Sandberg’s vote win. Right?
Montréal won just 78 games, anyway, and the Phillies finished at .500 for the year. Also, the Padres won the NL West by 12 games, so that is that. Carter and Raines have been solid contenders for this award over the past handful of seasons, while we know Schmitty has won our award four times already, but this award stays put.
Ryno’s traditional stat were nice: .314 BA, 19 HRs, 84 RBI, 32 steals, 19 triples, 114 runs, .887 OPS, and 2.0 dWAR. He posted a very nice all-around season, topping the NL in triples and runs scored. Toss in 52 walks, and it’s clear that Sandberg was a force in almost every way for Chicago’s pennant drive.
1984 AL Cy Young: Willie Hernández (original), Dave Stieb (revised)
Hernández posted 4.8 WAR, which is not enough to meet our standards here as stated many times previously, although he did finish ninth overall in MLB for pitching value. That’s not bad, but our true top candidates here are Toronto star Dave Stieb (7.9 WAR), Cleveland Indians veteran Bert Blyleven (7.2), Blue Jays journeyman Doyle Alexander (6.1), Orioles phenom Mike Boddicker (5.2), and Seattle Mariners busher Jim Beattie (5.1).
Cleveland won just 75 games in the AL East, while we know where the Blue Jays and Orioles finished. Seattle won 74 times to finish second-to-last in the AL West. Stieb has won this award from us two years’ running, and it seems like he could win it a third time, perhaps. His pitching WAR was the best mark in MLB, so it’s hard to not give him the award, as we don’t see any other data out there to contest that.
His numbers: 16-8, 2.83 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 267 IP, 198 Ks, and a league-best 7.2 hits allowed per 9 IP. Stieb is turning out to be one of the most underrated starting pitchers in the history of the sport, in truth.
1984 NL Cy Young: Rick Sutcliffe (original), Dwight Gooden (revised)
Cubs mid-season acquisition Rick Sutcliffe won the NL Cy vote for going 16-1 after his arrival in the Windy City, but we can’t ignore that his NL-only WAR (3.9) wasn’t good enough to win this award. And when he throw in the -0.1 WAR he compiled over 94 1/3 IP with Cleveland before the trade, it’s clear that whatever he was drinking in Chicago was kind of random and superficial.
Our real NL Cy candidates are New York Mets rookie Dwight Gooden (5.5 WAR), Pittsburgh Pirates veteran Rick Rhoden (5.2), and Los Angeles Dodgers starter Alejandro Peña (5.0). The Pirates were dead last in the NL East, and the Dodgers finished under .500 overall, so this award goes by default to Gooden, as the Mets finished second behind the Cubs in the NL East by just 6.5 games.
As a rookie, he posted a 17-9 record with 2.60 ERA with 3 shutouts and a 1.073 WHIP. He topped the senior circuit in Ks (276), WHIP, fewest hits allowed per 9 IP (6.6), fewest HRs allowed per 9 IP (0.3), and most Ks per 9 IP (10.4). He tossed 218 IP overall, while starting 31 times and completing 7 starts. Those numbers really demand a higher WAR mark, in truth, as this was an amazing season for the Doc at just age 19.
1984 AL ROTY: Alvin Davis (original, confirmed)
Yes, the Mariners finished with a mere 74 wins, but the best rookie in the junior circuit, by far, was Seattle first baseman Alvin Davis (6.0 WAR). The best rookie from a contending team over .500 was Boston Red Sox starter Al Nipper (2.8), so Davis is going to keep his vote-win hardware here. When you double up the top “contender” for the title, you have earned your salt, regardless of team finish.
Davis hit .284 overall with 27 HRs and 116 RBI, while posting an .888 OPS. He also walked 97 times on the year, showing incredible plate discipline on a bad team for a first-year player.
1984 NL ROTY: Dwight Gooden (original, confirmed)
The only other NL rookie within shouting distance of Gooden was Dodgers starter Orel Hershiser (4.6 WAR). In 189 2/3 IP, Hershiser posted an 11-6 record and a 2.66 ERA with a 1.107 WHIP. In most years, he would have won this award. But as it stands, Gooden is the call here, of course.
Check in every Monday for our MLB awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!