MLB players to win Triple Crown without being named MVP

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 09, 2021 in New York City. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 6-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 09, 2021 in New York City. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees 6-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

Heinie Zimmerman, 1912

The Chalmers Award, the precursor to the Most Valuable Player, was created in 1911. One year later, Chicago Cubs infielder Heinie Zimmerman led National League batters in home runs (14), RBIs (104), and batting average (.372).

Yet Zimmerman not only didn’t win the Chalmers MVP, he didn’t even come especially close. The winner was New York Giants’ second baseman Laughing Larry Doyle, who finished sixth in home runs (10), fifth in RBIs (91) and fourth in average (.330).

Doyle not only beat Zimmerman, he crushed him.  When the Chalmers voters considered the question that winter, Doyle received 48 voting points, three times as many as Zimmerman’s 16. The best the Triple Crown winner could do was tie Boston’s Bill Sweeney for sixth, behind Doyle, Honus Wagner, Chief Meyers, Joe Tinker, and Bob Bescher.

How did Doyle stand out so decisively from the season’s Triple Crown winner? Two reasons probably explain it. The first is personality: Laughing Larry Doyle was popular with players, fans, and writers alike, while Zimmerman was widely perceived as a churl…and possibly a dishonest one.

The second reason had to do with team performance. Doyle’s Giants won the National League pennant, while Zimmerman’s Cubs finished a distant third. The top three players in the NL MVP voting that season played for teams that finished first or second.