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
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)|
|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)|
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|
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)|
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.
|Player (NL)||Position||Career Span||# of MVP||Champ Record|
|Barry Bonds||LF||1986-2007||7||0-1 (3-4)|
|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|
|Ryne Sandberg||2B/3B||1981-1994, 1996-97||1||0-0|
|Sammy Sosa||RF||1989-2005, 2007||1||0-0|
|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)|
|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|
|George Bell||LF||1981, 1983-93||1||0-0|
|Mo Vaughn||1B||1991-00, 2002-03||1||0-0|
|Miguel Tejada||SS/3B||1997-2011, 2013||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.
Distribution of championships among MVP winners
*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.
*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.
|World Series Won||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||9||10|
Distribution of MVP Winners in the four major sports
*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|
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
Used Google Spreadsheet to make all charts and tables