MLB postseason: The ten best playoff MVPs

Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cubs infielder Ben Zobrist, MVP of the 2016 World Series. Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Cubs infielder Ben Zobrist, MVP of the 2016 World Series. Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s take a look through history at the ten best MVPs from MLB postseason play.

From an individual standpoint, one of the highlights of post-season play from here on out will be the naming of the Most Valuable Player of the LCS and World Series.

That tradition began in 1955 when Sport Magazine offered to donate a car to the person selected as the MVP in that year’s World Series. Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Johnny Podres was the winner.

The NLCS MVP was created in 1977—Dodger outfielder Dusty Baker won it – and the ALCS MVP award followed three years later. That winner was Royals’ second baseman Frank White.

Through all those years, the members of the media have made some excellent – and also some awful –selections. Three times in the MVP awards’ histories, the honorees have been players who actually hurt their teams’ post-season chances. That statement is based on calculations of Win Probability Added during the post-season series in question.

Those three were Bobby Richardson of the New York Yankees, MVP of the 1960 World Series (-0.09 WPA), Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, MVP of the 2005 ALCS (-0.10 WPA)  and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, MVP of the 2015 World Series (-0.12 WPA).

The more deserving winners in those years would have been Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Hal Smith (0.67 WPA) in 1960, White Sox third baseman Joe Crede (0.74) in 2005, and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (0.51) in 2015.

In anticipation of the selection of the 2020 World Series MVP, here’s a look at the 10 most valuable MLB postseason players – based on Win Probability Added — since the award was created. A Win probability Added of 1.00 – an exceptional score — equates to the player’s value in that post-season being worth exactly one game. The heading includes the player’s name, his WPA, and the year and series in question.