Heartbreak redeemed by hardware
1948 saw Williams win his second straight batting title. He also led the league in all the slash line categories plus walks and doubles. This time though, he did not deserve the MVP. See, I can be objective!
Williams finished third that year while appearing in only 137 games, his lowest in his career to that point. His counting stats took a hit due to the missed time while DiMaggio led the league with 39 homers and 155 RBI. Wait, the Yankee Clipper didn’t win either.
Cleveland’s Lou Boudreau won the MVP in ’48. The Indians beat the Red Sox on the final day of the season to win the pennant by one game. Boudreau hit .355 with a league-leading 10.3 WAR, well ahead of the 8.4 WAR Williams produced. He deserved the award regardless of if his team made the playoffs but based on precedent, had that final game swung the other way, sending Boston to the World Series, Williams probably would have won the MVP.
Williams earned his second MVP award in 1949 when he led the league with a career-high 43 home runs and 159 RBI. He won in a landslide despite that the Yankees finished a game ahead of the Red Sox to win the pennant. It was another heart-breaker for Boston that ended with consecutive losses in New York to choke away the pennant.
At least the voters didn’t blindly hand the MVP to someone from the team with the best record, so that’s progress! Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto finished a distant second in a season when he hit .275 with five home runs and 3.0 WAR. It would have been a complete joke to give him the award based on the outcome of the final game of the regular season.