Our second MLB Monday miniseries continues: World Series MVPs, Managers of the Years (MOTY), and (undeserving) Gold Glove winners, all wrapped into one weekly column that will get fatter as time goes on. The 1906 season was decades ago, but thanks to sports historians, we still can do research and figure out a lot of stuff retroactively. It’s what we love to do!
On with the show, which features a Windy City World Series …
1906 World Series MVP: Ed Walsh, SP, Chicago (AL)
The White Sox dropped the Cubs in six games to win their first World Series, winning the final two contests to break open a back-and-forth affair. Infielder George Rohe, who only played in 77 games during the regular season, and starting pitcher Ed Walsh are the leading MVP candidates for the Pale Hose, who won the AL pennant by 3 games over the New York Highlanders (see below).
Both Rohe (1.011 OPS, 2 SBs) and Walsh (2-0, 0.60 ERA) were outstanding in the Series, but we’re inclined to go with Walsh here, as he had more direct influence over the outcome of his two starts, posting a 0.867 WHIP and 17 Ks in 15 IP. Plus, Rohe committed 3 errors in the field, which hurt the White Sox, of course.
1906 AL MOTY: Fielder Jones, Chicago (AL)
Trailing the White Sox and the Highlanders were the Cleveland Naps, managed by the legendary Nap Lajoie—but he was brutal in the dugout and may have cost his namesake team the pennant. The Naps underperformed their Pythagorean projection by 9 wins, while finishing third … 5 games behind Chicago and 2 games behind New York. Both the top two teams exceeded their projections by 3 games apiece.
That means we give this award to White Sox Manager Fielder Jones. This was his only pennant in a 10-year managerial career. He had a .592 record with Chicago overall, from 1904-1908. Jones was not as successful later in the Federal League (1914-1915) or with the St. Louis Browns (1916-1918). This was his crowning achievement in the dugout, overall.
1906 NL MOTY: Frank Chance, Chicago (NL)
The Cubs set a record with 116 regular-season victories, a record that would not be broken until 2001, and even then, the Seattle Mariners needed a 162-game schedule to do it—when MLB was just using a 152-game schedule at this point. The .763 winning percentage put forth by Manager Frank Chance has stood the testament of time since 1906.
But the Cubbies won the NL pennant by 20 games over the New York Giants and Manager John McGraw. Do we reward Chance for all-time excellence, or do we reward McGraw for taking a third-place team and getting it into second place? Since Chance actually exceeded the projections by 1 win, we will give it to him: Yes, he had the better team, but he didn’t fuck it up. He made it slightly better, historically.