Ranking the greatest MVP seasons in baseball history: Nos. 60-41
theScore

Throughout the month of January, a cast of editors from theScore will share their rankings of the greatest teams, performances, pitchers, and position players in baseball history. This list focuses on the greatest MVP seasons (*: led AL/NL; major-league leaders in italics):

100-81 | 80-61 | 60-41 | 40-21 | 20-1

Voter list:

  • James Bisson, National Sports Editor
  • Brandon Wile, Senior MLB Editor
  • Jonah Birenbaum, MLB News Editor
  • Michael Bradburn, MLB News Editor
  • Jason Wilson, MLB News Editor
  • Bryan Mcwilliam, MLB News Editor
  • Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb, MLB News Editor
  • Dylan Perego, News Editor
  • Josh Wegman, News Editor

60. Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants (1969)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.320 101 45* 126* 0 1.108*

Even the ruthless San Francisco wind couldn't keep McCovey in the yard in 1969 after Major League Baseball decided to lower the pitcher's mound. With the likes of Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins no longer literally towering over him, Big Mac set career highs in average (.320), OBP (.453), slugging (.656), and, of course, homers (45), to wrest the Giants' single-season OPS+ record (209) from Willie Mays. McCovey would still have that record, too, if not for Mays' meddling godson, Barry Bonds. -- Birenbaum

59. Frank Robinson, Baltimore Orioles (1966)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.316* 122* 49* 122* 8 1.047*

In December 1965, the Reds - somehow convinced that the 30-year-old Robinson was finished - shipped him off to the Orioles in one of the most lopsided trades of all time. Robinson immediately made the Reds look foolish by leading Baltimore to its first World Series title and winning the 1966 AL triple crown. His AL MVP also made Robinson the first, and still only, player in history to win the award in both leagues. -- Sharkey-Gotlieb

58. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (2015)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.297 122* 41 123* 6 .939

The "Bringer of Rain" very nearly brought the Toronto Blue Jays their first World Series championship in more than two decades in his first season with the club. He was the driving force behind baseball’s best offense (Toronto scored 891 runs) and became an instant legend north of the border. Somehow, he's only the second Blue Jay to ever win the honor. -- Wilson

57. Hal Newhouser, Detroit Tigers (1945)

W L ERA WHIP K
25* 9 1.81* 1.11 212*

After winning his first MVP award in 1944, Newhouser followed that up with an even better year. The left-hander won the AL pitching triple crown, leading the league in wins (25), ERA (1.81), and strikeouts (212). An absolute workhorse on the mound, Newhouser tossed a complete game in 29 of his 36 starts and finished with a career-high 313 1/3 innings of work. If all that wasn't enough, he also became the first pitcher to ever repeat as an MVP winner -- Wile

56. Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs (1958)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.313 119 47* 129* 4 .980

Banks claimed his first of back-to-back MVPs in 1958, edging out future Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Banks led the league in home runs, RBIs, and slugging. It was the second of four consecutive seasons in which he hit at least 40 home runs while also driving in 100-plus runs. -- Wile

55. Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals (1946)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.365* 124* 16 103 7 1.021*

After missing the previous season due to military service, Musial returned to the Cardinals and won his second of three MVP awards. He led the majors with a .365 average and also paced the NL in hits, slugging, OPS, and WAR. Musial capped off his remarkable year with his third World Series title. -- Wile

54. Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers (2003)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.298 124* 47* 118 17 .995

A-Rod's first career MVP was also his most tightly contested, as he fended off a spirited charge from Toronto Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado. In addition to leading the majors in home runs for the second consecutive season, Rodriguez narrowly missed posting his fourth straight OPS above 1.000 while adding an AL high in runs scored. It was also his final season in Texas, as he joined the hated Yankees in time for the 2004 campaign. -- Bisson

53. Joe Medwick, St. Louis Cardinals (1937)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.374* 111* 31* 154* 4 1.056*

Medwick was an exceptional contact hitter throughout his career, but in 1937, he really found his power stroke. Of his 237 hits, 97 went for extra bases. -- Wegman

52. Jimmie Foxx, Boston Red Sox (1938)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.349* 139 50 175* 5 1.166*

Foxx averaged 1.17 RBIs per game in 1938. While that would be nearly impossible to accomplish in this day and age, it's still an incredible feat. -- Wegman.

51. Al Rosen, Cleveland Indians (1953)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.336 115* 43* 145* 8 1.034*

Rosen's star rose at an incredible pace. He didn't become a full-time player until he turned 26, and then proceeded to lead the American League in homers that season. He was the runaway AL MVP three years later, earning all 24 first-place votes to easily best Yogi Berra. Three years later, he traded in his baseball equipment to become a stockbroker. -- Bisson

50. Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals (1943)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.357* 108 13 81 9 .988*

In his sophomore season, Musial led the league in all three slash categories (plus OPS and OPS+), along with total bases, extra-base hits (including 20 triples!), and WAR. Stan the Man's finest work was yet to come, as was his home run power, but even when accounting for watered-down war-time rosters, his '43 season still ranks near the top of his crowded resume. -- Sharkey-Gotlieb

49. George Sisler, St. Louis Browns (1922)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.420* 134* 6 105 51* 1.061

Sisler's .420 average remains tied with Ty Cobb's (1911) for the highest by an MVP. Homers aside, this all-around great season remains Sisler's masterpiece - he lost all of 1923 to injury and was never the same hitter - and his MVP gave the dead-ball style one last hurrah before home runs took over for good. -- Sharkey-Gotlieb

48. Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros (1994)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.368 104* 39 116* 15 1.201*

In the strike-shortened '94 campaign, Bagwell was having a season for the ages. His .750 slugging percentage stands as the 11th highest in a single season, with Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds occupying seven of the spots ahead of him. As amazing as Bagwell's entire career was, he wouldn’t be a Hall of Fame lock without this season - and it would have been even better if played to fruition. -- Wilson

47. Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals (1968)

W L ERA WHIP K
22 9 1.12* 0.86* 268*

Gibson put together one of the finest seasons we will ever see from a pitcher in 1968. The right-hander posted a 1.12 ERA - the lowest ever recorded in the live-ball era - across 304 2/3 innings en route to winning both the MVP and Cy Young. Gibson tossed 28 complete games that year, including 13 shutouts, and even produced 47 consecutive scoreless innings at one point. -- Wile

46. Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees (1939)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.381* 108 30 126 3 1.119

Though injuries limited him to just 120 games in '39, a legitimate run at .400 - he peaked at .410 on Sept. 3 and settled for a career-best .381 - earned DiMaggio his first of three MVP awards in a landslide. -- Sharkey-Gotlieb

45. Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates (1990)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.301 104 33 114 52 .970*

Before taking "The Leap" later in his career, Bonds made a much smaller jump - going from an above-average hitter with great speed and fielding instincts to a full-fledged slugger en route to his first MVP award. His 33 home runs were eight more than his previous high, and he easily bested teammate Bobby Bonilla while also earning Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. -- Bisson

44. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (2005)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.321 124* 48* 130 21 1.031*

How great was A-Rod in his prime? So great that his amazing ‘05 season in the Bronx may not even be a top-five campaign on his career resume. Despite that, nobody had a better offensive season in 2005 - only the most stubborn of Red Sox fans would cry foul - as Rodriguez played a full 162 games, stole 21 bases, and hit the cover off the ball. -- Wilson

43. Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs (1959)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.304 97 45 143* 2 .970

Banks' follow-up to his first MVP season was even better, at least by WAR standards (10.2 bWAR to 9.4). He continued to serve as the lone bright spot on a bad Cubs team, and though Eddie Mathews edged him out for the home run title, it was Banks who rightfully walked away with his second consecutive MVP. -- Sharkey-Gotlieb

42. Walter Johnson, Washington Senators (1913)

W L ERA WHIP K
36* 7 1.14* 0.78* 243*

Johnson was the definition of a workhorse in 1913. He allowed just 41 earned runs across 36 starts (310 1/3 innings), completing 29 of those games with 11 shutouts. Since his manager apparently felt like he needed to get more work in, Johnson also logged 36 innings across 12 relief appearances. Just for good measure, he hit .261 at the dish with five doubles, six triples, and two homers. -- Wegman

41. Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees (1941)

AVG R HR RBI SB OPS
.357 122 30 125* 4 1.083

From May 15 to July 16, DiMaggio had a hit in every single one of the 56 games he played. It’s a record that stands today and will likely never be broken. DiMaggio also only struck out 13 times in 139 games. The only knock against him is that Ted Williams (.406/.553/.735) should have won the award for his impossibly good season. -- Wilson

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Ranking the greatest MVP seasons in baseball history: Nos. 60-41
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