MVPs and championships in the four major sports (Part 1)

In the last week, the NHL Awards and NBA Awards show took place, with Taylor Hall and James Harden both being named the newest MVP winners in their respective sports. Now the NFL, NBA, and NHL are all in the offseason, while the MLB is still a few months away from the playoffs. So this seems like a good time to take a look at the connections between MVPs and championships in the four major North American sports.

Players with at least one MVP and no championship

NBA

There have been 33 different players to win the NBA MVP award since it was first given out in following the 1955-56 season. Out of these 33 players, seven (21.21%) have never won an NBA Championship. Only two of these players, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose, have never played in an NBA Finals.

Note: Any gaps in career span in all tables below are seasons that a player was either retired, completely missed due to injury, was not playing professionally due to WWII/other reasons or there was a lockout.

Player Position Career Span # of MVPs Champ Record (By Game)
Karl Malone PF 1985-2004 2 0-3 (5-12)
Steve Nash PG 1996-2014 2 0-0
Charles Barkley SF/PF 1984-2000 1 0-1 (2-4)
Allen Iverson SG/PG 1996-2010 1 0-1 (1-4)
Russell Westbrook PG 2008- 1 0-1 (1-4)
James Harden SG/PG 2009- 1 0-1 (1-4)
Derrick Rose PG 2008- 1 0-0

NFL

The NFL does not have an officially sanctioned MVP award. However, the one the Associated Press (AP) gives out is as close as it gets especially since it is the MVP award presented at the league’s annual honor show. The award has been given out since the 1957 season, with 47 different players having won it.

22 (46.80%) of these players never won a championship. This is broken down between 13 quarterbacks, eight running backs, and one defensive tackle. Out of those 22, nine of them never played in a championship game.

Player Position Career # of MVPs Championship/Super Bowl Record
Thurman Thomas HB 1988-2000 1 0-4
Y.A. Tittle QB 1948-1964 1 0-3
Fran Tarkenton QB 1961-1978 1 0-3
Alan Page DT 1967-1981 1 0-3
Larry Brown HB 1969-1976 1 0-1
Ken Anderson QB 1971-1986 1 0-1
Dan Marino QB 1983-1999 1 0-1
Boomer Esiason QB 1984-1997 1 0-1
Rich Gannon QB 1987-2004 1 0-1
Steve McNair QB 1995-2007 1 0-1
Shaun Alexander HB 2000-2008 1 0-1
Matt Ryan QB 2008- 1 0-1
Cam Newton QB 2011- 1 0-1
John Brodie QB 1957-1973 1 0-0
Roman Gabriel QB 1962-1977 1 0-0
OJ Simpson HB 1969-1979 1 0-0
Bert Jones QB 1973-1982 1 0-0
Brian Sipe QB 1974-1983 1 0-0
Earl Campbell HB 1978-1985 1 0-0
Barry Sanders HB 1989-1998 1 0-0
LaDainian Tomlinson HB 2001-2011 1 0-0
Adrian Peterson HB 2007- 1 0-0

NHL

The NHL has given out the Hart Memorial Trophy to each year’s most valuable player since the 1923-24 season. In that span, 58 different players have won the award. Out of these, 12 (20.68%) have never won the Stanley Cup. Between those 12, eight have never played in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Players Position Career # of MVPs Champ Record
Chuck Rayner G 1940-1953 1 0-1 (3-4)
Eric Lindros C 1992-04, 2005-07 1 0-1 (0-4)
Joe Thornton C 1997-2004, 2005- 1 0-1 (2-4)
Henrik Sedin C 2000-04, 2005-18 1 0-1 (3-4)
Billy Burch C/LW 1922-1933 1 0-0
Roy Worters G 1925-1937 1 0-0
Herb Gardiner D 1926-1929 1 0-0
Tom Anderson LW/D 1934-1942 1 0-0
Jose Theodore G 1995-2013 1 0-0
Carey Price G 2007- 1 0-0
Taylor Hall LW 2010- 1 0-0
Connor McDavid C 2015- 1 0-0

MLB (NL and AL)

From 1911-1914, 1924-28 and since 1931 both the National League (NL) and American League (AL) have given out an MVP award at the end of the season. However, in 1923 and 1924 only the AL presented an MVP award.  In 1929, the  NL presented one while the AL did not.

Overall, 77 players have won an NL MVP and 75 have won an AL MVP. However, only 151 different players have won either MVP since Frank Robinson won both an NL MVP (1961) and AL MVP (1966). 57 (37.7%)  MVP winners never won a World Series championship, while 29 have never played in one.

NL

Player (NL) Position Career Span # of MVP Champ Record
Barry Bonds LF 1986-2007 7 0-1 (3-4)
Ernie Banks 1B/SS 1953-1971 2 0-0
Dale Murphy 1B/C 1976-1993 2 0-0
Terry Pendleton 3B 1984-1998 1 0-5 (13-20)
Gabby Hartnett C 1922-1941 1 0-4 (3-16)
Larry Doyle 2B 1907-1920 1 0-3 (6-12-1)
Phil Cavarretta 1B/OF 1934-1955 1 0-3 (5-12)
Paul Warner RF 1926-1945 1 0-1 (0-4)
Chuck Klein RF 1928-1944 1 0-1 (2-4)
Dolph Camilli 1B 1933-43, 1945 1 0-1 (1-4)
Bob Elliott 3B/RF 1939-1953 1 0-1 (2-4)
Jim Konstantly P 1944, 1946, 1948-56 1 0-1 (0-4)
Willie McCovey 1B/LF 1959-1980 1 0-1 (3-4)
Ken Caminiti 3B 1987-2001 1 0-1 (0-4)
Larry Walker RF/1B 1989-2005 1 0-1 (0-4)
Jeff Bagwell 1B 1991-2005 1 0-1 (0-4)
Jeff Kent 2B/1B/3B 1992-2008 1 0-1 (3-4)
Hank Sauer LF 1941-42, 1945, 1948-59 1 0-0
Joe Torre C/1B/3B 1960-1977 1 0-0
Andre Dawson OF 1976-1996 1 0-0
Ryne Sandberg 2B/3B 1981-1994, 1996-97 1 0-0
Sammy Sosa RF 1989-2005, 2007 1 0-0
Joey Votto 1B 2007- 1 0-0
Ryan Braun LF/3B 2007- 1 0-0
Clayton Kershaw P 2008- 1 0-0
Andrew McCutchen CF 2009- 1 0-0
Giancarlo Stanton RF 2010- 1 0-0
Bryce Harper OF 2012- 1 0-0

AL

Player (AL) Position Career Span # of MVP Champ Record
Ted Williams LF 1939-42, 1946-60 2 0-1 (3-4)
Robin Yount SS/CF 1974-1993 2 0-1 (3-4)
Juan Gonzalez OF 1989-2005 2 0-0
Frank Thomas 1B/DH 1990-2008 2 0-0
Mike Trout CF 2011- 2 0-0
Ty Cobb CF 1905-1928 1 0-3 (4-12-1)
Bobby Shantz P 1949-1964 1 0-2 (6-8)
Carl Yastrzemski LF/1B 1961-1983 1 0-2 (6-8)
Josh Hamilton OF 2007-2015 1 0-2 (4-8)
Nellie Fox 2B 1947-1965 1 0-1 (2-4)
Harmon Killebrew 1B/3B/LF 1954-1975 1 0-1 (3-4)
Zolio Versalles SS/3B/2B 1959-1969, 1971 1 0-1 (3-4)
Jim Rice LF/DH 1974-1989 1 0-1 (3-4)
Fred Lynn CF 1974-1990 1 0-1 (3-4)
Jason Giambi 1B/LF/DH 1995-2014 1 0-1 (2-4)
Vladimir Guerrero RF 1996-2011 1 0-1 (1-4)
George Sisler 1B 1915-22, 1924-30 1 0-0
Dick Allen 1B/3B/LF 1963-1977 1 0-0
Rod Carew 1B/2B 1967-1985 1 0-0
Jeff Burroughs OF 1970-1985 1 0-0
George Bell LF 1981, 1983-93 1 0-0
Don Mattingly 1B/OF 1982-1995 1 0-0
Ken Griffey CF 1989-2010 1 0-0
Mo Vaughn 1B 1991-00, 2002-03 1 0-0
Miguel Tejada SS/3B 1997-2011, 2013 1 0-0
Ichiro Suzuki* RF 2001- 1 0-0
Justin Morneau 1B 2003-2016 1 0-0
Joe Mauer C/1B 2004- 1 0-0
Josh Donaldson 3B 2010, 2012- 1 0-0

*While Ichiro transitioned into a front-office role with the Mariners after playing 15 games this season, he said that he is not retiring yet.
Jetpack

Distribution of championships among MVP winners

Amount of championships each MVP winner has won (NBA)

*For the four years (1966-69) the NFL Championship and Super Bowl overlapped before the NFL-AFL merger, I only counted the Super Bowl for the graph below.

Amount of championships each MVP winner has (NFL)

Amount of Stanley Cups each Hart Trophy winner has (NHL)

*Only counted Frank Robinson (two World Series championships) once in the chart, counted him once for both NL and AL in the table showing separate leagues.

Amount of World Series championships each AL and NL MVP winner has (MLB)

World Series Won 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10
NL MVP 28 26 15 7 1 0 0 0 0 0
AL MVP 29 18 12 6 3 1 1 3 1 1

Distribution of MVP Winners in the four major sports

Amount of MVPs won by MVP Winners (NBA)

Amount of MVPs won by MVP Winners (NFL)

Amount of Hart Trophies won by Hart Trophy winners (NHL)

Amount of MVPs won by MVP winners for AL and NL (MLB)

*Counted Frank Robinson’s two MVPs as one for the AL and one for the NL in the table below.

Number of MVPs 1 2 3 7
NL MVP 65 7 4 1
AL MVP 57 13 5  0

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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Barry heads to left field after driving in 2 with a single in the 3rd” by John is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/mvp.html#all_mvp_NBA

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/awards/ap-nfl-mvp-award.htm

https://www.hockey-reference.com/awards/hart.html

https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

Used Google Spreadsheet to make all charts and tables

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