Which Dodgers award winners were the most unlikely?
Formed in 1883, the Dodgers organization has a long and storied past. From the days at Ebbett’s Field in Brooklyn to their cross-country move out west to Los Angeles, the Dodgers have fielded some of the best teams in baseball history.
Over the course of their 137-year history, the team has featured some of the best players of all-time. Likewise, the Dodgers have seen their fair share of award winners among that bunch. That includes 44 players that appear in the Hall of Fame (15 wearing the Dodgers cap), 14 Most Valuable Player winners, 12 Cy Youngs, 18 Rookie of the Year honorees, and even 10 Comeback Players of the Year.
But while the Dodgers have been recognized vastly among their peers, there have been a few instances where the award winners may not have been the best choice. That will always be a problem as long as the awards are voted on by human voters (in this case the media) who may or may not be biased to some degree.
Let’s take a look at a few such instances where a member of the Dodgers took home the hardware that likely should have gone to a more worthy recipient.
1974 National League MVP
The 1974 award season may have seen truly head-scratching voting when it came to the Most Valuable Player awards in both leagues. When the dust settled, the American Leauge award was given to Jeff Burroughs of the Texas Rangers and the National League equivalent went to Steve Garvey of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Garvey enjoyed a solid season for Los Angeles in 1974, slashing .312/.342/.469 with 21 home runs and 111 RBI, and was one of three Dodgers to finish in the top 5 for the award. He would win the vote on the back of an 80% share for the ballot, including 13 first-place votes.
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However, Garvey doesn’t even rank within the top-30 in terms of fWAR (3.8) for the 1974 season and even trails five other Dodgers in the category for the season. Two of those, Mike Marshall (4.2 fWAR) and the recently departed Jimmy Wynn (7.4) finished 3rd and 5th in the balloting respectively.
No, the award likely should have gone to one of the trio of Mike Schmidt, Joe Morgan, or Johnny Bench, all future Hall of Famers.
Schmidt of the Phillies was in just his third season in the league and experienced his first breakout season in 1974. In 162 games, Schmidt hit .282/.395/.546 with a National League Leading 36 home runs, 108 runs scored, and 116 RBI. Coupled with his stellar defense at third, Schmidt would be worth 9.4. fWAR and a wRC+ of 157.
Teammates Bench and Morgan of the Reds were no slouches either. Bench would hit .280/.363/.507 with 33 home runs and an MLB-leading 139 RBI, good enough for an 8.0 fWAR and 142 wRC+. Morgan would add .293/.427/.494 with 22 home runs, 67 RBI, 107 runs scored, and 58 stolen bases, good for an 8.6 fWAR and a 162 wRC+.
Unbelievably, none of these players even finished in the top-five for the award, and not one of them received a first-place vote.