Welcome to our last entry in our MLB Monday Series I Redux: We’ve been going back to fill in early seasons of the World Series era for league MVP and Cy Young awards. This is an extension of our first miniseries that started back in March 2020, as we began then with the initial season MVPs were given out (1911), although we should have started 8 seasons earlier. Mission (finally) accomplished: Enjoy!
1910 AL MVP: Eddie Collins, 2B, Philadelphia
What a dilemma today! Two players reached our historical threshold of 10-plus WAR: Detroit Tigers center fielder Ty Cobb (10.5) and Philadelphia Athletics second baseman Eddie Collins (10.5). Both were positive defenders this time, and while Cobb’s WAR mark was slight higher than Collins’ number, accounting for decimals, the A’s won the pennant—with the Tigers finished third, 18 games back.
Hmmm. What do we do? Collins led MLB in dWAR (2.8) and the AL steals (81), while Cobb topped his league peers in runs (106), batting average (.382), OBP (.455), SLG (.549), and OPS (1.004). There is the issue that Philly would have won the pennant without Collins, and the Tigers would have been under .500 without Cobb, but we’re splitting hairs here. They honestly both deserve this.
Can we have a tie? No. Collins gets our nod for leading his team to the pennant and having the significantly better glove. That’s consistent for us, and that means Collins finishes with three AL MVP nods from us (1909, 1913). Cobb would get three of his own later (1911, 1915, 1917). All’s well that ends well, right? Exactly.
1910 NL MVP: Solly Hofman, CF, Chicago
Only four players posted at least 5.0 WAR in a down year offensively for the senior circuit: Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Sherry Magee (6.7), Chicago Cubs CF Solly Hofman (5.3), Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner (5.2), and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Ed Konetchy (5.0). Who won the pennant? The Cubs, by 13 games. That means we’re giving this award to Hofman—barely (0.0 dWAR).
Never heard of him? We forgive you. He hit .325 with 16 triples and 86 RBI, while adding 29 SBs and 65 BBs. At age 27, this would be his only full season hitting over .300 for the year. He had been a utility player on the 1907 and 1908 Chicago teams that won the World Series, better known for the infielders on the roster (Tinkers to Evers to Chance). But this was his big season in the pre-Wrigley sun for sure.
1910 AL Cy Young: Russ Ford, SP, New York
Well, this tops everything: We have three pitchers who topped double digits in WAR, which is incredible. The stunning trio includes New York Highlanders rookie Russ Ford (11.4), Chicago White Sox wizard Ed Walsh (11.1), and Washington Senators youngster Walter Johnson (10.4). New York was the only team to finish over .500, coming in 14.5 games behind the pennant-winning A’s, so Ford it is.
His numbers: 26-6, 1.65 ERA, 8 SOs, 299 2/3 IP, 209 Ks, and an 0.881 WHIP. He also led the league in fewest hits allowed per 9 IP (5.8). Surprisingly, none of his other numbers topped the junior circuit, but his overall contributions in almost 300 IP give him this specific piece of hardware … forever!
1910 NL Cy Young: Christy Mathewson, SP, New York
The only contenders here are New York Giants ace Christy Mathewson (8.1 WAR), Brooklyn Superbas stalwart Nap Rucker (6.8), and Phillies journeyman Earl Moore (5.7). The Giants came in second, a full 13 games behind the Cubs, while the Superbas were under .500—and the Phillies finished 12.5 games behind New York. So Mathewson wins another one of these trophies from us. Shocker (not) …
The stats: 27-9, 1.89 ERA, 27 CGS, 318 1/3 IP, 184 Ks, and an 1.106 WHIP. He topped the league in wins and complete games. Overall now, then, this makes eight NL Cy Youngs for Mathewson, including the last 7 in a row (1907-1913). He is one of the greatest pitchers ever, right up there with Lefty Grove and his nine AL Cy Youngs. Amazing!