Joe DiMaggio in 1947: .315/.391/.522, 20 HR, 97 RBI, 154 OPS+, 4.8 WAR
After a three-year World Series drought, the Yankees triumphantly returned in 1947. DiMaggio was a key contributor and won his final MVP award in what was a mundane season by his standards. If you rank his seasons by WAR, this was his 10th best out of 13.
Who should have won: DiMaggio somehow beat out his nemesis Ted Williams by a single vote to win this one but probably should not have even been on the ballot. The Splendid Splinter once again took the league by storm, leading the AL in all three slash stats, home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, and total bases. He more than doubled DiMaggio's WAR total.
Phil Rizzuto in 1950: .324/.418/.439, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 122 OPS+, 6.7 WAR
This was the second of five consecutive championships for the Yankees, and it was powered by a career season from Rizzuto. He set career highs in nearly every offensive category and continued to field shortstop better than any of his contemporaries.
Who should have won: St. Louis Browns starting pitcher Ned Garver actually led the league in WAR despite having a losing record, but the Scooter was tops among position players. He just barely edged out Cleveland's Larry Doby, who put up flashier offensive numbers for a 92-win team. Holy Cow, Phil Rizzuto really did deserve this one.
Yogi Berra in 1951: .294/.350.492, 27 HR, 88 RBI, 130 OPS+, 4.7 WAR
Yogi won his first MVP award amid the Yankees greatest run of success. He proved to be the best player on a team full of very good ones and was beginning to stake his claim as one of the best catchers in baseball history. His quotability certainly didn't hurt his cause either.
Who should have won: This might sound familiar, but Ted Williams led the AL in all three slash stats again. He also led the league in WAR, outperforming Berra by 2.5 wins. That now makes four MVPs that Williams probably should have won over a Yankee player, and he didn't get a single first place vote here. Sportswriters of the era had a serious problem with the guy.
Yogi Berra in 1954: .307/.367/.488, 22 HR, 125 RBI, 136 OPS+, 5.3 WAR
The Yankees snapped their streak of five World Series wins in a row, though they won 103 games. Berra was still in his prime and had another fine season. He and a strapping young player named Mickey Mantle spearheaded the AL's best offense.
Who should have won: The Mick had a better season than Berra by a fair margin. He was worth about a win and a half more than Yogi but the voters weren't ready to christen Joe DiMaggio's successor as MVP just yet. Minnie Minoso of the White Sox was probably the best choice for MVP though. In the best season of his career he led the league in total bases and put up 8,3 WAR.
Yogi Berra in 1955: .272/.349/.470, 27 HR, 108 RBI, 120 OPS+, 4.5 WAR
In their return to the World Series, the Yankees finally lost one to the bums from Brooklyn. Yogi went back-to-back for his third and final MVP. At age 30, he proved to be remarkably durable behind the plate as he strapped on the tools of ignorance in 145 games for the third time in his career.
Who should have won: This was the least impressive of Berra's MVP awards. He wasn't even in the top 10 of the league in terms of WAR but he had three teammates that were. The best of the trio was Mantle again, who had his first of many all-time great seasons. He led the AL in home runs, walks, on base percentage, and slugging percentage on his way to 9.5 WAR, more than doubling Berra's total.
Mickey Mantle in 1956: .353/.464/.705, 52 HR, 130 RBI, 210 OPS+, 11.3 WAR
The Bombers avenged their World Series loss to the Dodgers and The Mick finally got his due. He cemented his superstar status by winning the Triple Crown and unanimously taking home MVP honors.
Who should have won: Nobody could touch Mantle in 1956. He was worth a full three wins more than his closest competition in the AL and the gap was even larger when compared to NL players. As if he needed a cherry on top, he also made a ridiculous catch in center field on a ball scorched by Gil Hodges to preserve Don Larsen's perfect game during the Fall Classic.
Mickey Mantle in 1957: .365/.512/.665, 34 HR, 94 RBI, 221 OPS+, 11.3 WAR
Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves derailed the Yankees' bid for back-to-back championships, but it was through no fault of Mantle. He matched the brilliance of his 1956 season despite hitting 18 fewer home runs. He made up for that by drawing a career-high 146 walks.
Who should have won: Mantle certainly earned his repeat win but it wasn't as easy this time around. The vote was far from unanimous and his stiffest competition came from our old friend Ted Williams. Amazingly, at 38 years old The Kid was still a dominant offensive force. He led the league in all three slash stats and was worth nearly 10 wins despite being a liability in left field.
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