Today on MLB Monday, we review a season where the Detroit Tigers lost a third consecutive World Series—a feat that is rare in professional baseball history. In fact, it’s only been done one other time (New York Giants, 1911-1913). These days, it’s hard to even win three pennants in a row, let alone the Series itself. So, the Tigers—and the Giants—are the equivalent of the Buffalo Bills (sort of).

Nonetheless, here we go with the awards!

1909 World Series MVP: Babe Adams, SP, Pittsburgh

The Tigers lost Game 7 at home to the Pittsburgh Pirates by an 8-0 score, so it was a major letdown for (not yet?) Motown. The difference maker in the Series was Pittsburgh rookie starter Babe Adams, who posted a 3-0 record and a 1.33 ERA over 27 IP. That’s right; three complete games with a WHIP of just 0.889 along the way, as the Tigers hit a collective .241 in the 7 games.

It’s hard to consider anyone else here, as there were several good-to-great performances for both teams—but Adams’ effort is spectacular. In the three games the Pirates lost, the staff ERA was 5.76 over 25 innings. Even if days off helped (the 7 games took place over a 9-day span), this pitching performance by a rookie is one of the greatest in history. Yet, we rarely hear of it in folklore tales of the time. Go figure.

1909 AL MOTY: Hughie Jennings, Detroit

This is a weird scenario, as the Tigers beat the Philadelphia Athletics by 3.5 games for the pennant. But A’s Manager Connie Mack (our 1905 and 1907 winner here) lost the pennant more than Tigers Manager Hughie Jennings (our 1908 winner) won it, in truth. Mack led his team to a minus-7 PP finish, while Jennings achieved a plus-2 PP mark. We are giving this award to Jennings, for obvious reasons.

The difference came down to records in 1-run games: Detroit posted a grand 26-15 record in close games, while Philadelphia scrambled to just a 29-28 mark in the tight ones. Every move a manager makes is magnified in the close ones at the end, and Jennings’ ability to succeed there so regularly enabled the Tigers to escape with a pennant they perhaps should not have won.

1909 NL MOTY: Fred Clarke, Pittsburgh

In a similar situation, the Pirates won the NL pennant by 6.5 games over the Chicago Cubs, winning 110 games and losing just 42 times. The result occurred because Pirates Manager Fred Clarke (our 1905 and 1908 winner) earned a plus-5 PP mark, while Cubs Manager Frank Chance (our 1906 and 1907 winner) coughed up a minus-5 PP effort himself. Straight up? Maybe it’s Chicago’s pennant.

The difference: the record agains winning teams. With only 4 teams finishing above .500 for the year, the top teams had “easy” schedules. Playing each other mattered a lot, as Pittsburgh scratched out a 13-9 mark against Chicago head-to-head, outscoring the Cubs by 10 runs overall in those 22 games. Every run counted in this pennant race, and Clarke came out ahead (no pun intended).