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Tandem MVPs and Cy Youngs

Occasionally the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young come from the same team; a look at this year's top contenders.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Every year we venture down the same path, debating MVP and Cy Young candidates, launching into stat head versus traditional writers narrative and beating the drums for our guy. There will be plenty of time for that (and subsequently plenty of time to get sick of that) but today I will assess the chances that we see an MVP and Cy Young winner from the same team.

This feat has only been accomplished 19 times in Major League History, most recently two seasons ago when Miguel Cabrera led the league in average, on-base percentage and slugging with a .338/.442/.636 slash line and an OPS 90 percent higher than league average.

In the same year Max Scherzer won the Cy Young with a 2.90 ERA and 2.26 FIP. Scherzer hit the magic 20 win mark which certainly aided his case for Cy Young. He was second in the league in strikeouts with 240 and a 4.29 strikeout per walk.

Below is the list of teams that produced both a Most Valuable Player and a Cy Young:

Year Team MVP Cy Young Team Result
2013 Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera Max Scherzer Lost in ALCS
2006 Minnesota Twins Justin Morneau Johan Santana Lost in ALDS
2005 St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols Chris Carpenter Lost in NLCS
2002 Oakland Athletics Miguel Tejada Barry Zito Lost in ALDS
1993 Chicago White Sox Frank Thomas Jack McDowell Lost in ALCS
1991 Atlanta Braves Terry Pendleton Tom Glavine Lost in World Series
1990 Oakland Athletics Rickey Henderson Bob Welch Lost in World Series
1990 Pittsburgh Pirates Barry Bonds Doug Drabek Lost in NLCS
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers Kirk Gibson Orel Hershiser Won World Series
1984 Chicago Cubs Ryne Sandberg Rick Sutcliffe Lost in NLCS
1982 Milwaukee Brewers Robin Young Pete Vuckovich Lost in World Series
1980 Philadelphia Phillies Mike Schmidt Steve Carlton Won World Series
1974 Los Angeles Dodgers Steve Garvey Mike Marshall Lost in World Series
1967 Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski Jim Lonborg Lost in World Series
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers Maury Willis Don Drysdale Did not make the playoffs
1961 New York Yankees Roger Maris Whitey Ford Won World Series
1960 Pittsburgh Pirates Dick Groat Vern Law Won World Series
1959 Chicago White Sox Nellie Fox Early Wynn Lost in World Series
1957 Milwaukee Braves Hank Aaron Warren Spahn Won World Series

It's clear that winning has an impact on awards voting regardless of a player's individual achievements. As shown in the chart , only one time out of the 19 did a team yield both an MVP and a Cy Young and not make the playoffs. Using the premise that a team is likely to be in the playoffs (which obviously makes sense if they have two of the top players in the league) let's take a look at some of the potential Cy Young / MVP tandem candidates for 2015.

Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer

The Nationals have the best chance this year to have the MVP and Cy Young come from the same squad. Washington has yet to reach their preseason potential and are bouncing back and forth with the overachieving Mets (New York has about a 32 percent chance to make the playoffs per Fangraphs playoff odds). The Nats still have an edge with various players returning from injury and despite getting zero production from Jayson Werth the Nats still have an 85 percent of  making the playoffs, which is second only to the Dodgers.

From a potential MVP standpoint Bryce Harper has demonstrated his ability to take his potential and translate into exception play.. He brings with him an incredibly narrative (good/bad/indifferent) Harper has mashed 20 home runs and has a 215 wRC+. He leads the National League in slugging and is getting on base at a 47 percent clip.

Max Scherzer was part of the last teammate tandem when he won his Cy Young in 2013. His 2015 has been immensely effective as he's already amassed a 3.0 fWAR. Scherzer has a 2.13 ERA, 45 percent below league average and has already struck out 97 batters in 84 innings. Scherzer is primed for another Cy Young run, particularly if he leads a staff to a National League East title.

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Cleveland Indians: Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber

The Indians were the preseason darling to overtake the Tigers as divisional champs, but are being rocked by poor defense and some bad luck. The Indians are tied for last place with the White Sox and somehow are looking up at the Minnesota Twins. The Tribe is only three games under .500 and with a few peripheral additions via trade could potentially make a wild card run (or a divisional run for that matter).

Jason Kipnis has 27 extra base hits including 18 doubles and currently leads the American League in fWAR. He has been a tremendous force in the middle of the Cleveland lineup batting .335/.410/.511. Kipnis has also been one of the few bright spots in the field for an otherwise defensively challenged team. He is hitting for power and average and has also eight stolen bases. He's gone a bit under the radar due to the Indians poor start but has been one of the best all around players in the American League.

Corey Kluber is having a fantastic season, but it has not matched up with his 3.53 earned run average which is roughly league average. Kluber is striking guys out at a great pace, 10.7 strikeouts per nine,  and has only walked 1.67 per nine. He has only give up six home runs in over 90 innings and has the best swinging strike rate of his career at 14.7 percent. Kluber had an 18 strikeout night earlier this season and if Cleveland makes a playoff run he should get some love from the writers.

Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez

Much like the Indians, the Mariners were viewed to have a breakout 2015. Many writers projected them to win the Western division but are currently sitting in fourth place seven games under .500. With an ace like Felix Hernandez and a potentially healthy Hisashi Iwakuma through the summer would do this team wonders in a wide open American League West and assist in the narrative for some postseason awards.

Analysts were mixed on the Nelson Cruz contract but Cruz has stepped in for a slumping Robinson Cano and been one of the few catalysts for the Mariners offense. He provides minimal value on defense (which is normally overlooked by the writers anyway) but has been an absolute beast at the plate. Cruz has a slugging percentage over .600 and has already hit 18 home runs. He has a 180 wRC+ and if he can power a Seattle offense to a playoff run, could easily get some MVP votes.

Felix Hernandez has already tossed 81 innings and has an earned run average 32 percent lower than league average. The King has name value, numbers, and a proven track record to always make him a candidate for a second Cy Young. He already has one and has finished in second twice in his decade long career.

Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera and David Price

The Tigers have been the cream of the crop in the Central division, but their dynasty looks to be coming to a close as the Royals appear to be legitimate contenders (not to mention the aforementioned Indians and blazing Twins). Miguel Cabrera will always command respect from MVP voters and if David Price can keep his home run balls in the yard, this tandem has a chance to take both MVP and Cy Young awards to the Motor City.

MIguel Cabrera continues to be one of, if not the best, pure hitters in the game. His defensive value has been shot for years, but he's still hitting for power (12 home runs) and average (.330 average). Cabrera's .422 weight on base average is the best in the American League and he's getting on base more than anyone else in baseball.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers have a whopping 91 percent chance to make the playoffs per Fangraphs playoff odds which is a positive for any of their players going for a regular season award. The Dodgers have been favored from the start and with a great year out of Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson, look primed for a National League West championship.

At the age of 33, Adrian Gonzalez is having a career year in Los Angeles. AGon is hitting .324 with a .404 OBP, and already has 11 home runs and 21 doubles. This is the first time Gonzalez has really shown his potential in a Dodgers uniform and he has been a potent corner infield bat in an already stacked lineup.

Clayton Kershaw had a regular season for the ages in 2014, winning both the National League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. Kershaw led the league in ERA, FIP and (gasp) wins. Laugh about wins all you wish, but look at this long list of pitchers with 20+ wins in 27 or fewer games like Kershaw did. He was absolutely dominant last year and the expectations coming this year were perhaps unrealistically. So far in 2015, he looks, dare I say, mortal, though the underlying numbers are better than the good 3.36 earned run average. Kershaw leads the league with an 11.03 strikeouts per nine and 101 strikeouts. If the Dodgers run away with the West and Kershaw continues to K his way through lineups he could certainly defend his Cy Young title.

*Ed's Note: A previous version listed Chris Young as part of the Mariners.


Steven Martano is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.