This MLB Monday miniseries takes on the season that is mostly remembered for being the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series—until 2016, of course. This was obviously a very long time ago, and we’re doing our best to look back at World Series MVPs and Managers of the Year, awards that didn’t exist at the time. It’s a fun weekly exercise, so we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
On with the show …
1908 World Series MVP: Orval Overall, SP, Chicago (NL)
The Cubs won the Series in 5 games over the Detroit Tigers, who lost their second straight Series to Chicago. Detroit was shut out in Games 4 and 5, too, adding insult to injury. The Cubs had three players hit at least .350 in the Series, while the Chicago pitching staff was led by two outstanding hurlers. That gives us five potential MVPs here, and we will have to sort by category before proceeding.
Among the hitters, outfielder Frank Schulte stands out for leading the team in OPS (.950) while not committing an error in the field. His .389 average was second on the team, while his 2 RBI, 2 BBs, and 2 SBs completed his all-around contributions. For the pitchers, Orval Overall pitched 2 complete-game victories and added a relief appearance, too, for a 0.98 ERA and a .764 WHIP in 18 1/3 IP total.
Overall’s pitching effort jump off the page at us a lot more than Schulte’s numbers, in truth, and we’ll go with him for the WS MVP nod. The relief appearance was odd: In Game 1, starter Ed Reulbach—our pick for MVP in last year’s Series—got in trouble, and Overall came in to stave off a Tigers rally. He earned a “hold” for one-out effort, and the Cubs went on to win the game. It was a pivotal relief appearance.
1908 AL MOTY: Hughie Jennings, Detroit
The Tigers won the pennant by a half game over the Cleveland Naps and 1.5 games ahead of the Chicago White Sox. Detroit Manager Hughie Jennings gave his team a huge edge with a plus-2 PP mark, while Naps Manager Nap Lajoie hurt his team with a minus-3 PP. Do the math, and you see the managers made the difference in the pennant chase here.
Remember, Lajoie cost his team big time back in 1906, too. This was his last full season as a manager, and it was the right move to get him out of the decision-making role in the dugout, for sure. But we digress: Jennings wins this award from us for overcoming a mediocre pitching staff that finished eighth in a 9-team league for runs surrendered.
1908 NL MOTY: Fred Clarke, Pittsburgh
In an even closer finish, the Cubs outlasted both the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates by 1 game each to claim the NL flag. Chicago Manager Frank Chance (plus-1 PP), New York Manager John McGraw (minus-3 PP), and Pittsburgh Manager Fred Clarke (plus-5 PP) all played a key role in determining the outcome of this memorable pennant race.
Chance has won this award twice before (1906, 1907), and Clarke has won it once himself (1905). McGraw clearly cost his team the pennant with poor decisions, while Clarke got his team into position against the two-time defending NL champions. Considering the Pirates had the worst team among the three in terms of scoring and allowing runs, we’re going with Clarke for giving his team a decent shot.