On MLB Monday this week, we find ourselves in the Golden Age of modern major-league baseball, as some guy named Babe Ruth really began to take over the game and restore its grandeur after the Black Sox scandal of 1919-1920. It did not result in a World Series championship yet, but it would only be a matter of time before Ruth owned America from coast to coast. In the meantime, enjoy our look at these awards below …
1921 World Series MVP: Jesse Barnes, P, New York (NL)
The New York Giants won the World Series in eight games over the New York Yankees, five games to three, despite Ruth’s .976 OPS for the matchup. The Yankees held 2-0 and 3-2 advantages in the Fall Classic before the Giants rallied to win the final three games and clinch the championship. Both Games 7 and 8 were low-scoring affairs where Giants escaped with one-run victories, so it was a close Series, for sure.
Left fielder Irish Meusel was the hitting star for the Giants: 1 home run, 7 RBI, a .345 batting average, and a .973 OPS. Meanwhile, veteran starter Jesse Barnes saved a lot of bacon in his three relief appearances for the champs: 2-0, 16 1/3 IP, 18 Ks, a 1.65 ERA, and a 0.980 WHIP. He won Game 6 in relief, enabling his team to even the Series at three wins apiece. The Yankees had knocked starter Fred Toney out in the first inning, and if they’d gone on to win Game 6, it’s doubtful the Giants recover.
For that reason, we’re giving this MVP nod to Barnes: He literally did the same thing in Game 3, when the Yankees got out to a 4-0 lead on Toney. He turned the tide of two huge momentum games in the Series, giving his teammates the chance to come back and win Games 3 and 6—and eventually the World Series as a whole.
1921 AL MOTY: Miller Huggins, New York
The Yankees won the pennant by 4 games over the Cleveland Indians, and Yankees Manager Miller Huggins posted a plus-2 PPP mark. Meanwhile, his equal in Cleveland—Tris Speaker—could only squeak out a minus-1 PPP finish. Quick math tells us this pennant race would have been much more even without the respective influences—positive and negative—of these two managers. The award goes to Huggins, as no other team in the AL finished within 13 games of Cleveland. This is his second MOTY nod here.
1921 NL MOTY: George Gibson, Pittsburgh
The Giants beat out the Pittsburgh Pirates by 4 games for the NL pennant, but in a situation very similar to the AL this time around, New York Manager John McGraw posted minus-1 PPP for the season. Meanwhile, his counterpart in Pittsburgh, George Gibson, coaxed plus-3 PPP out of his roster—making the standings a lot closer than they should have been, perhaps. Thus, we give the Pirates skipper our nod for this award.