Sorry Juan Guzman - A Look At LCS MVPs

As the Yankees won their 40th pennant last night, it was no surprise that starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who was 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA in the series, won the series MVP.  Then again, Alex Rodriguez also had a great series, hitting .429/.567/.952, and certainly would have been a worthy choice had he won the ALCS MVP.  For what it's worth, Fangraphs had Sabathia with the edge in win probability added (WPA), 0.679 to 0.530 over A-Rod.

At first thought, two wins by a starting pitcher seemed like a lock for series MVP.  But just how often has that happened?  I went back and looked at all the league championship series since 1985, the first year of the best-of-seven format.  There have been 25 times a starting pitcher from the winning team has had two victories in the LCS.  He has walked away with the MVP 15 times, which is less than I would have thought.  Two of those non-MVPs though lost out to a fellow teammate who also had two wins.

Here's a look at all the starting pitchers from pennant-winning teams with two wins in the LCS in the last 25 years:

Year Starting Pitcher MVP? Comment
1987 ALCS Bert Blyleven No Gary Gaetti hit .300/.348/.650, circling Bert's 4.05 ERA
1988 NLCS Tim Belcher No Orel Hershiser and his one win (1.09 ERA) bested his teammate
1989 ALCS Dave Stewart No Rickey Henderson hit .400/.609/1.000
1990 ALCS Dave Stewart Yes
1991 NLCS Steve Avery Yes
1991 NLCS John Smoltz No Smoltz was great (1.76 ERA), but teammate Avery was better (0.00 ERA)
1991 ALCS Jack Morris No Kirby Puckett hit .429/.435/.762; Morris had a 4.05 ERA
1992 ALCS Juan Guzman No Guzman's 2.08 ERA was spit on by Roberto Alomar (.423/.464/.692)
1992 NLCS John Smoltz Yes
1993 ALCS Dave Stewart Yes
1993 ALCS Juan Guzman No Guzman and Stewart each gave up three runs; Stew got one more out
1995 ALCS Orel Hershiser Yes
1996 NLCS John Smoltz No Smoltz had a 1.20 ERA in 15 IP, but Javy Lopez hit .542/.607/1.000
1997 NLCS Livan Hernandez Yes No word on whether Eric Gregg was voted a playoff share
1998 ALCS David Wells Yes
1998 NLCS Sterling Hitchcock Yes My favorite MVP of the bunch, as he pitched all of 10 innings
2000 ALCS Orlando Hernandez  No El Duque's 4.05 ERA was beaten by David Justice's 8 RBI
2000 NLCS Mike Hampton Yes
2001 NLCS Randy Johnson No The Unit's 1.12 ERA lost to the grit of David Eckstein Craig Counsell (.381/.381/.524)
2001 ALCS Andy Pettitte Yes
2005 NLCS Roy Oswalt Yes
2007 ALCS Josh Beckett Yes
2008 ALCS Matt Garza Yes
2008 NLCS Cole Hamels Yes "C'mon, Cole.  Pound the corners.  Get him to chase one outside."
2009 ALCS C.C. Sabathia Yes

There have been three starting pitchers on losing teams to amass two wins in the LCS.  Mike Scott (1986) captured the MVP award, while Freddy Garcia (2000) and Tim Wakefield (2003) did not.

There have been eight relievers since 1985 to get two wins, the most recent being Julian Tavarez for the 2004 Cardinals.  Jesse Orosco is the only man, starter or reliever, to get three wins in an LCS, accomplishing the feat for the 1986 Mets.  None of the relievers won series MVP.

Don Sutton (1974) and Burt Hooton (1981) join Belcher as the only Dodgers to have two wins in a single NLCS.  MVPs were not awarded for the league championship series until 1977.  Hooton won the 1981 NLCS MVP.

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