The MLB World Series may only last seven games or less, but those games can define a team or player’s career. Those seven games or less are the moments every player dreams about growing up.
A little more than halfway through the 2021 season, we took a deeper look through the history books and looked at all the World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award recipients. We looked at the stats and dug into the numbers, starting in 1955 and working our way to the 2020 World Series.
1955 was the first year that the award was formally given out. The SPORT Magazine Award was decided on and presented by SPORT Magazine after the World Series had ended. Over time, the award transitioned to being decided during the final game of the series by a committee of media personnel and league officials.
For most of its history, the World Series MVP award was tied in with Chevrolet/GM, and the winner would be gifted a new Corvette. In 2017, it was formally renamed the Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player in honor of Willie Mays and the anniversary of ‘The Catch.’
Pitchers have been the World Series MVP twenty-nine times during the award’s history, accounting for almost one-third of the winners. In fact, twelve of the first fourteen World Series MVPs were hurlers.
That fact changed through most of the 70s and into the mid-’80s, and pitchers rarely won the World Series MVP. Home runs were going farther, and hitters were bulking up and becoming more powerful, making the game more exciting and overshadowing strong pitching performances.
Over time, the MLB odds evened out, and the league is now just as quick to reward a dominant hitter as it is a shutdown pitcher. Without further ado, here is part three of the series, the World Series MVPs from 2000-2021.
The baseball world started the century off with a New York Yankees World Series win in 2000. It was their Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter who took home the World Series MVP award. Jeter had a fantastic series, batting .409, hitting for nineteen total bases, sending two over the fence, and scoring six times.
In one of the more memorable World Series battles in this era, a dominant Yankees team lost to the infectious and scrappy Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games, surely hurting the New York fans who bet online.
In a rare instance, the World Series MVP named two players as co-MVPs. However, a more deserving duo would be hard to find, as Arizona’s two ace pitchers were monsters during the series, and Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were proud to share the award.
Johnson had a 3-0 record in the World Series, appearing three times, two of which being starts. In almost 18 total innings of work, the Big Unit allowed only two earned runs and had nineteen strikeouts. Schilling started three games, and although he only had a 1-0 record, he struck out a staggering twenty-six Yankees in the series and only allowed four earned runs in almost twenty-two innings of work.
In 2002, the Anaheim Angels won the World Series, and third baseman Troy Glaus won the World Series MVP award for batting .385, had three home runs and eight RBI. In 2003, the Florida Marlins figured out a way to win the World Series. Thanks mainly to starting pitcher Josh Beckett, who went 1–1 in two starts, allowing two earned runs in just sixteen innings of work.
2004 was the year the Red Sox finally broke the ‘Curse of the Bambino,’ winning the World Series but more importantly coming back from 0-3 in the ALCS to the Yankees. The scores and odds changed so much in this postseason it made everyone’s heads spin.
There were many heroes on that Red Sox team, but the World Series MVP usually goes to just one player, and Manny Ramirez was that player. The future Hall of Famer outfielder batted .412k, had one home run and drove in four runs.
Outfielder Jermaine Dye won the World Series MVP when he led the Chicago White Sox through the Fall Classic. Dye finished the series with one home run, three RBI, and a .438 batting average. In 2006 the World Series MVP went to middle-infielder David Eckstein of the St. Louis Cardinals. Eckstein knocked in four runs, had eight hits, and finished the World Series with a .364 batting average.
The Boston Red Sox won their second World Series title in four seasons in 2007. It was their third baseman Mike Lowell who stood out the most and won the World Series MVP. His home run, four RBIs, and .400 batting average in the series were critical for Boston’s victory.
In 2008, the baseball gods would return the World Series MVP to starting pitchers. Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies went 1-0 in his two starts, only allowed four earned runs in thirteen innings of work, and had eight strikeouts.
In 2009 Yankees DH Hideki Matsui had a staggering .615 batting average in the World Series with three home runs and eight RBI to win the 2009 World Series MVP award. In 2010 it was shortstop Edgar Rentería for the San Francisco Giants who batted .412, had two home runs and six RBIs
The St. Louis Cardinals’ David Freese was given the World Series MVP in 2011. The star third baseman finished with a .348 batting average and drove in seven runs, but most importantly, Freese hit the game-tying triple in the ninth inning and the walk-off home run in extra innings of Game 6. In the 2012 World Series, the MVP award went to everyone’s favorite panda.
Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants hit .500 in the series, had three home runs in the first game alone, and batted in four runs.
2013 was the year of Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox winning another World Series. Designated hitter David Ortiz won the World Series MVP easily when he batted .688, with six RBI, two home runs, and four intentional walks. There should be statues of Big Papi all over Boston if there are not already.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2014, defeating the Kansas City Royals. In a truly legendary performance, starting pitcher, Madison Bumgarner took the World Series into his own hands. He was the clear choice for World Series MVP.
In three appearances, the Giants’ pitcher finished with a 2–0 record, and one save. One of his two starts was a shutout, he had a respectable seventeen total strikeouts, and he only allowed one earned run in over twenty-one innings of World Series work. Yes, one run in twenty-one innings in the World Series.
In the 2015 season, the Kansas City Royals had made some improvements and were ready to win the World Series like they had failed to do the previous season. The World Series MVP was catcher Salvador Pérez, who had a .364 batting average and three runs scored in the World Series. It’s important to point out that he also caught 51 innings over the course of five games.
The 2016 World Series MVP was Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs. The Outfielder hit .357 in the series, with five runs scored, ten hits, including the iconic go-ahead RBI double in extra innings of game seven. Their title is soiled with a cheating scandal, but George Springer’s 2017 World Series performance was spectacular.
Springer, the Houston Astros outfielder, batted .379 in the series, hit five home runs, knocked in seven runs, scored eight times, and had eleven hits.
Clearly the best team in baseball, the 2018 Boston Red Sox steamrolled past everyone to win the Fall Classic. The World Series MVP went to first baseman Steve Pearce, who hit three home runs, drove in eight runs, finished with a .333 batting average and a 1.167 slugging percentage.
During the Washington Nationals’ historic run in 2019, the team relied heavily on its starting pitching. The Nationals World Series title can be tied directly to their big three starters’ performance, especially Stephen Strasburg.
In his two starts, the DC hurler went 2-0 and only allowed four earned runs in fourteen innings pitched. He also had fourteen strikeouts. Strasburg became the first player drafted #1 overall in the MLB draft to win the World Series MVP.
In the Los Angeles Dodgers first World Series Championship since 1988, their star shortstop Corey Seager was spectacular, seemingly defying the MLB Vegas odds. Seager hit two home runs, knocked in five runs, and batted .400 in the 2020 World Series.
Who will be the 2021 World Series MVP?
After a busy trade deadline, the odds to win the World Series have shifted around. The table is now set for an incredible end to the season and an assuredly competitive postseason in October.
Will the Giants continue their surprising run? Will the Dodgers repeat? Can the Mets be Amazing again, or will the World Series MVP come from the Evil Empire? If you are excited about the Fall Classic, you can find all the freshly updated World Series betting odds in the sportsbook.