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Revisiting the 1993 AL MVP Voting

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The Toronto Blue Jays’ 2021 campaign made franchise history after the recent announcement that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien are finalists in the year’s American League MVP voting. This was the first time two Blue Jays have been MVP finalists in the same season since Paul Molitor and John Olerud in 1993. This was a bittersweet moment for Jays fans, as 1993 was the year of Toronto’s most recent World Series championship yet they did not even qualify for the postseason in 2021.

As I was not following MLB in 1993, I decided to look back at the results of that year’s MVP voting, which are quite interesting. Chicago White Sox legend Frank Thomas finished in 1st place, while Molitor came in 2nd. Olerud, who had more league and MLB-leading offensive numbers than either Thomas or Molitor, came in 3rd.

1. Frank Thomas – 392 points

Counting Stats: 106 R; 174 H; 41 HR; 128 RBI; 112 BB

Batting Line: .317/.426/.607/1.033; 177 OPS+

bWAR: 6.2

This was the first of two MVP campaigns for the White Sox Hall of Famer.

2. Paul Molitor – 209 points

Counting Stats: 121 R; 211 H (led MLB); 22 HR; 111 RBI;  77 BB; 22 SB

Batting Line: .332/.402/.509/.911; 143 OPS+

bWAR: 5.6

This is a very impressive season for a 36 year-old, which one reason is why Molitor is a Hall of Famer.

3. John Olerud – 198 points

Counting Stats: 109 R; 200 H; 24 HR; 107 RBI; 114 BB

Batting Line: .363 (led AL)/.473 (led MLB)/.599/1.072 (led AL); 186 OPS+ (led AL)

bWAR: 7.8

Olerud put up a Mike Trout-esque batting line and had fairly similar counting stats to Molitor’s, with the exception of stolen bases (Olerud stole a total of 11 bases in his 17-year career). Olerud had eleven fewer hits than Molitor but received nearly 40 more walks, which contributed to his MLB-leading OBP of .473.

I was not following the season or the coverage at the time, so from my perspective years later, it appears that Olerud’s 1993 season was underappreciated by voters who were giving greater consideration to counting stats.

The three MVP finalists would eventually face one another in the 1993 American League Championship Series, which the Blue Jays won in seven games. Molitor won the ALCS MVP award with 5 RBI and a batting line of .391/.481/.696/1.777. Toronto went on to win back-to-back World Series championships on Joe Carter‘s famous Game 6 walkoff home run.

I plan to examine the National League results for 1993 in the near future, so please follow me on Twitter @farnorthsider to see updates about my latest posts.

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