MVPs and championships in the four major sports (Part 2)

Yesterday, saw the first part of my look at the connection between MVPs and championships in the four major North American sports. Now, the second and final part will look at multi-time winners of both, as well as totals and the unluckiest MVPs who never won a championship.

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.

Players with multiple MVPs and Championships

NBA

Only nine players in NBA history have multiple MVPs and Championships. Three of these players won their championships with multiple teams, Kareem (5 Lakers, 1 Bucks), LeBron (2 Cavs, 2 Heat) and Wilt (1 76ers, 1 Lakers).

Player Position Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Kareem Abdul Jabbar C 1969-1989 6 6
Bill Russell C 1956-1969 5 11
Michael Jordan SG/SF 1984-93, 1994-98, 2001-03 5 6
LeBron James SF/PF 2003- 4 3
Wilt Chamberlain C 1959-1973 4 2
Magic Johnson PG/SG 1979-91, 1995-96 3 5
Larry Bird PF/SF 1979-1992 3 3
Tim Duncan PF/C 1997-2016 2 5
Steph Curry PG 2009- 2 3

NFL

Only five players in NFL history have won multiple MVPs and championships (NFL Championship + Super Bowls), with all of them being quarterbacks. The fact that Montana and Young were on the same team from 1987 to 1992 is definitely a historical outlier. Manning (1 Colts, 1 Broncos) is the only one to win his championships with different teams.

Player Position Career # of MVPs # of Championships
Peyton Manning QB 1998-2010, 2012-15 5 2
Tom Brady QB 2000- 3 5
Johnny Unitas QB 1956-1973 3 3
Joe Montana QB 1979-1990, 1992-94 2 4
Steve Young QB 1985-1999 2 3

NHL

Only 14 players in NHL have won multiple Hart trophies and Stanley Cups. Dominik Hasek is the only goalie to have accomplished this. Mark Messier is the only one to win his championships with multiple teams (Oilers 5, Rangers 1).

*Howe played in the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1973-79 and won two Avco Cups (in addition to his 4 Stanley Cups) with the Houston Aeros in 1974 and 1975.

Players Position Career # of MVPs # Of Champ
Wayne Gretzky C 1978-1999 9 4
Gordie Howe RW 1946-71, 1973-80 6 4*
Eddie Shore D 1926-1940 4 2
Howie Morenz C 1923-1937 3 3
Bobby Orr D 1966-77, 1978-79 3 2
Bobby Clarke C 1969-1984 3 2
Mario Lemieux C 1984-97, 2000-04, 2005-06 3 2
Jean Beliveau C 1950-51, 1952-71 2 10
Mark Messier LW/C 1978-2004 2 6
Guy Lafleur RW 1971-85, 1988-91 2 5
Sidney Crosby C 2005- 2 3
Bill Cowley C 1934-1947 2 2
Phil Esposito C 1963-1981 2 2
Dominik Hasek G 1990-2002, 2003-04, 2005-08 2 2

MLB

Only 13 MLB players have won multiple MVPs and World Series Championships. Five of these players (Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, and Maris) all played for the New York Yankees.

Player (AL) Position Career Span # of MVP (League) # of Champ
Jimmie Foxx 1B/3B/C 1925-42, 1944-45 3 (NL) 2
Joe DiMaggio CF 1936-42, 1946-51 3 (NL) 9
Stan Musial OF/1B 1941-44, 1946-63 3 (AL) 3
Yogi Berra C/OF 1946-63, 1965 3 (NL) 10
Mickey Mantle CF/1B 1951-1968 3 (NL) 7
Albert Pujols 1B/LF/3B 2001- 3 (AL) 2
Lou Gehrig 1B 1923-1939 2 (NL) 6
Mickey Cochrane C 1925-1937 2 (NL) 3
Hank Greenberg 1B/LF 1930, 1933-41, 1945-47 2 (NL) 2
Frank Robinson OF/1B 1956-1976 2 (AL and NL) 2
Roger Maris RF 1957-1968 2 (NL) 3
Joe Morgan 2B 1963-1984 2 (AL) 2
Johnny Bench C/3B/1B 1967-1983 2 (AL) 2

Jetpack

Totals and takeaways

Sport # of players to win MVP Players with multiple MVPs MVPs who won a championship MVPs without championship MVP never played in championship
NFL 47* 9 (19.14%) 25 (53.19%) 22 (46.80%) 9 (19.14%)
NBA 33 13 (39.39%) 26 (78.78%) 7 (21.21%) 2 (6.06%)
NHL 58 18 (31.03%) 46 (79.31%) 12 (20.68%) 6 (10.34%)
MLB (Total) 151* 31* (20.52%) 94* (62.91%) 57 (37.7%) 29 (19.20%)
MLB (NL) 77* 12 49 28 13
MLB (AL) 75 18 46 29 16

*In 1997 (Brett Farve and Barry Sanders) and 2003 (Peyton Manning and Steve McNair) both won that year’s MVP award as they finished in a tie.

*In 1979 the NL MVP race ended in a tie with Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell sharing the award.

*Frank Robinson counted once towards number of players to win MVP for NL and AL. Only counted once for MLB total, hence the one player difference. Same for MVPs who won a championship. Also counted for multi-MVP total since he has one from both leagues.

C MVP 4 Sports

MVP Winners with 7+ Championships, plus top two for the NFL

Player Sport Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Bill Russell NBA 1956-1969 5 11
Yogi Berra MLB (AL) 1946-63, 1965 3 10
Jean Beliveau NHL 1950-1971 2 10
Joe DiMaggio MLB (AL) 1936-42, 1946-51 3 9
Maurice Richard NHL 1942-1960 1 8
Mickey Mantle MLB (AL) 1951-1968 3 7
Babe Ruth MLB (AL) 1914-1935 1 7
Phil Rizzuto MLB (AL) 1941-42, 1946-56 1 7
Tom Brady NFL 2000- 3 5
Bart Starr NFL 1956-1971 1 5

Russell spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics. Beliveau and Richard both spent their entire careers with the Montreal Canadiens. Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Rizzuto spent their entire career playing for the Yankees.

Ruth is the only one who played for different teams. He played for the Boston Red Sox (1914-19), then the New York Yankees (1920-34) before spending his final season with the Boston (now Atlanta) Braves.

The two NFL players with the most are Tom Brady (5 Super Bowls) and Bart Starr (2 Super Bowls, 3 NFL Championships), who both have five championships. Like the other players in the table, Starr played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers while Brady has done the same so far with the New England Patriots.

*I did not count Starr’s (or anyone else’s) NFL Championships during the four-year span it overlapped with the Super Bowl.

Amount of MVPs won by MVP winners in the four major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB)

The players with 4+ MVPs

Player Sport Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Wayne Gretzky NHL 1978-1999 9 4
Barry Bonds MLB (NL) 1986-2007 7 0
Kareem Abdul Jabbar NBA 1969-1989 6 6
Gordie Howe NHL 1946-1980 6 4
Bill Russell NBA 1956-1969 5 11
Michael Jordan NBA 1984-93, 1994-1998, 2001-2003 5 6
Peyton Manning NFL 1998-2015 5 2
LeBron James NBA 2003- 4 3
Wilt Chamberlain NBA 1959-1973 4 2
Eddie Shore NHL 1926-1940 4 2

Out of the players to have not won a championship in each sport, a total of 19/98 of them are currently playing. Broken down for each sport it is 3/7 for the NBA, 3/22 (NFL), 4/10 (NHL) and 9/57 (MLB).

Only 10 players have won multiple MVPs and never won a championship, with eight of them being from MLB and two from the NBA. Mike Trout is the only one of these players currently playing. Barry Bonds is the only player in the four major sports to have 3 or more MVPs and never won a championship.

Only eleven players across the four major sports have won multiple championships and MVPs but ended up with more MVPs. It has happened six times in the NHL but only five times (Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx) in the other three sports.

 
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Out of the 98 MVPs who never won a championship, 48 of them never played in one. 37 of them only made it there once and lost. That means only 13 (13.26%) got at least a second crack at winning a championship and failed. 12 of these times happened in the NFL or MLB, with it only happening once in the NBA and never in the NHL.

Player Sport Career # of MVPs Championship Record
Terry Pendleton MLB 1984-1998 1 0-5 (13-20)
Gabby Hartnett MLB 1922-1941 1 0-4 (3-16)
Thurman Thomas NFL 1988-2000 1 0-4
Ty Cobb MLB 1905-1928 1 0-3 (4-12-1)
Larry Doyle MLB 1907-1920 1 0-3 (6-12-1)
Phil Cavarretta MLB 1934-1955 1 0-3 (5-12)
Y.A. Tittle NFL 1948-1964 1 0-3
Fran Tarkenton NFL 1961-1978 1 0-3
Alan Page NFL 1967-1981 1 0-3
Karl Malone NBA 1985-2004 2 0-3 (5-12)
Bobby Shantz MLB 1949-1964 1 0-2 (6-8)
Carl Yastrzemski MLB 1961-1983 1 0-2 (6-8)
Josh Hamilton MLB 2007-2015 1 0-2 (4-8)

Karl Malone is the only player in the four major sports to win multiple MVPs, play in multiple championships and never win one. This included losing consecutive NBA Finals with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998.

Terry Pendelton lost five championships, with three of those World Series loses coming in game seven. Two of those were with the St. Louis Cardinals and three with the Atlanta Braves, including back-to-back losses in 1991 and 1992. He was on the Braves from 1991-94 and traded back to them in 1996. The one year he was not on the team in 1995, they won the World Series.

Thurman Thomas made it to four consecutive Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills (1990-93) and lost all of them.

Ty Cobb lost three straight World Series (1907-09) with the Detroit Tigers and Larry Doyle lost three straight with the New York (now San Francisco) Giants (1911-13). Y.A. Tittle lost three straight NFL Championship games with the New York Giants (1961-63).

Frank Tarkenton and Alan Page both lost three Super Bowls in four years with the Minnesota Vikings in 1973, 1974 and 1976.

Josh Hamilton lost back-to-back World Series with the Rangers in 2010 and 2011.

 
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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Bill Russell” by Kip-koech is licensed under CC BY 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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