We are in the middle of the World War II years on MLB Monday this week, and surprise! We don’t have to talk about the New York Yankees this time around for the Fall Classic award. In fact, we have a weird situation where it’s the St. Louis Browns atop the American League—facing the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League in the World Series. Not the first time we’ve had an intercity matchup, but this is more unlikely than the first instance, that’s for sure! Enjoy …
1944 World Series MVP: Emil Verban, 2B, St, Louis (NL)
The Cardinals topped the Browns in six games, and this is a tough one. No pitcher won two games for the winners, and no hitter drove in more than two runs, either, for the victors. This was a team effort if we’ve ever seen one. The Cards pitching staff had a 1.96 ERA, but every pitcher either had a loss or a horrid WHIP. Meanwhile, five different hitters drove in the team-high two runs, and only one of them played enough to matter (without a strikeout or an error, either).
Who is the lucky guy? Rookie second baseman Emil Verban, who posted a lowly .580 OPS during the regular season. In the Series, he hit .412 with 2 RBI and an .885 OPS—the second-highest mark on the team. Strangely, he didn’t hit anything but singles in the matchup, but otherwise, he was relatively flawless at the plate. Verban also just scored once even though the Cardinals put 16 runs in the six-game set against the Browns. Timing is everything, however, so he wins.
1944 AL MOTY: Luke Sewell, St. Louis
The Browns won the pennant by 1 games over the Detroit Tigers, and St. Louis Manager Luke Sewell managed to post a plus-1 PPP mark. Meanwhile, Tigers Manager Steve O’Neill put up a plus-2 PPP effort. So why do we pick Sewell over O’Neill? First, his team won, and without his PPP effort, that may not have been the case. Second, this was literally the only pennant the St. Louis franchise won in 52 seasons as the Browns before moving to Baltimore in 1954. Impressive.
1944 NL MOTY: Bill McKechnie, Cincinnati
The Cardinals won the pennant by 14.5 games, but St. Louis Manager Billy Southworth was not good this time out: he scuffled to a minus-2 PPP result. Sure, it didn’t matter, but we don’t reward that kind of result here. The only other two teams to finish above .500 were the Pittsburgh Pirates (Manager Frankie Frisch, plus-5 PPP) and the Cincinnati Reds (Manager Bill McKechnie, plus-7 PPP). So, McKechnie is it, again, for the fourth time, but the first since since 1940.