This post goes out to George Orwell. Have you ever looked at the 1984 AL MVP voting results? You will not believe them.
By the way, Paul and I announced our 2017 awards on this week's podcast. Give it a listen; we even managed to go less than an hour!
Back to 1984. Tigers reliever Willie Hernandez took home the AL MVP (along with the Cy Young). He appeared in 80 games, throwing 140 innings. His 0.94 WHIP is impressive. His 7.2 K/9 is not. It was by far the best year of Hernandez' career and his 4.8 WAR is great for a reliever. Since the MVP award was created in 1911, only three relievers have won the award. All three were in the American League from 1981-1992 (Hernandez, Rollie Fingers, and Dennis Eckersley).
Was he the best player in the AL in 1984? Not quite. Of the 26 other players that received votes on someone's ballot, 14 had a higher WAR than Willie. Four players had a WAR above 7.0: Eddie Murray, Lloyd Moseby, Dave Stieb, and Cal Ripken. Murray finished fourth in the voting, which makes sense I guess. What doesn't make sense is that Moseby, Stieb, and Ripken finished 22nd, 23rd, and 27th respectively.
Cal Ripken had a WAR of 10. 10! And he finished 27th in AL MVP voting. Since 1950, there have only been 25 10-WAR seasons (6 from Mays, 3 from Bonds, 3 from Mantle). What happened? Well, the Tigers did win 104 games, compared to the Orioles 85. And, Ripken had already won the AL MVP the year before. His teammate, Eddie Murray, finished second in the 1983 voting. So, there might have been some people that voted for Murray as the best Orioles player after he came up short the year before. Gandhi was assassinated in October 1984, so maybe that affected some voters.
But yikes, what a terrible mistake. It's like voting for Brett Gardner over Jose Altuve. Or Lance Lynn over Joey Votto.