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MVP & Cy Young Awards: A Mariners’ History

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A history of the Mariners through the lens of MVP and Cy Young vote totals.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, both the Cy Young Award and the MVP Award winners were announced for the 2014 season. A few Mariner players received a decent amount of votes but, tragically, none of them took home one of these coveted awards. I don't need to recap what happened in the Cy Young Award voting but three Mariners earned MVP votes, Robinson Cano (124 pts.), Felix Hernandez (48), and Kyle Seager (1). Seeing those votes for multiple Mariner players got me thinking, which year did the Mariners as a team earn the most Cy Young and MVP votes?

Thankfully, Baseball Reference maintains a complete database of all of the MVP and Cy Young award voting totals. I tabulated all of the results for Mariner players all the way back to the inaugural season, 1977. Here are the results in a single table:

Year

MVP points

Name

Cy Young points

Name

Total Points

1977

0

1978

3

OF Leon Roberts

3

1979

3

DH Willie Horton

3

1980

0

1981

46

OF Tom Paciorek

46

1982

4

RP Bill Caudill

4

RP Bill Caudill

8

1983

0

1984

26

1B Alvin Davis

26

1985

12

OF Phil Bradley

1

SP Mike Moore

13

1986

2

3B Jim Presley

2

1987

7

SP Mark Langston

7

1988

0

1989

2

1B Alvin Davis

2

1990

7

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

7

1991

62

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

62

1992

29

DH Edgar Martinez

42

13

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

1993

182

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

75

SP Randy Johnson

258

1

SP Randy Johnson

1994

233

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

24

SP Randy Johnson

257

1995

244

DH Edgar Martinez

136*

SP Randy Johnson

611

120

OF Jay Buhner

111

SP Randy Johnson

1996

287

SS Alex Rodriguez

0

481

188

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

6

OF Jay Buhner

1997

392*

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

77

SP Randy Johnson

545

42

SP Randy Johnson

22

DH Edgar Martinez

12

OF Jay Buhner

1998

135

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

0

227

92

SS Alex Rodriguez

1999

42

OF Ken Griffey Jr.

3

SP Jamie Moyer

51

4

SS Alex Rodriguez

2

SP Freddy Garcia

2000

218

SS Alex Rodriguez

0

315

97

DH Edgar Martinez

2001

289*

OF Ichiro Suzuki

55

SP Freddy Garcia

626

259

2B Bret Boone

12

SP Jamie Moyer

4

OF Mike Cameron

4

DH Edgar Martinez

3

RP Kazuhiro Sasaki

2002

10

OF Ichiro Suzuki

10

2003

65

2B Bret Boone

12

SP Jamie Moyer

83

6

OF Ichiro Suzuki

2004

98

OF Ichiro Suzuki

98

2005

7

1B Richie Sexson

7

2006

7

OF Ichiro Suzuki

11

4

OF Raul Ibanez

2007

89

OF Ichiro Suzuki

101

12

RP J.J. Putz

2008

1

OF Raul Ibanez

2

1

OF Ichiro Suzuki

2009

33

OF Ichiro Suzuki

80

SP Felix Hernandez

114

1

SP Felix Hernandez

2010

6

SP Felix Hernandez

167*

SP Felix Hernandez

176

3

OF Ichiro Suzuki

2011

0

0

0

2012

2

SP Felix Hernandez

41

SP Felix Hernandez

43

2013

2

SP Hisashi Iwakuma

73

SP Hisashi Iwakuma

82

1

SP Felix Hernandez

6

SP Felix Hernandez

2014

124

2B Robinson Cano

159

SP Felix Hernandez

332

48

SP Felix Hernandez

1

3B Kyle Seager

* Indicates winner

It comes as no surprise that 2001 and 1995 are the top two years by total MVP and Cy Young award votes. Both years were pretty historic and both had unforgettable performances by Mariner players, including a Cy Young award for Randy Johnson in 1995. The next highest total was 1997, the height of the mid-90's Mariners and the year that Ken Griffey Jr. unanimously won the MVP award. Rounding out the top five years are 1996 and 2014. Yes, in 2014, Mariner players earned the fifth highest amount of MVP and Cy Young votes. Here's a look at the same data in graphical form:

MVP-CY totals

You could have guessed that the peaks and valleys in that graph follow the peaks and valleys of the organization as a whole. Three of the top five years were playoff years and the only other year the Mariners made the playoffs (2000) comes in sixth. The valleys are just as easy to predict. The early years of the franchise were pretty dreary, the same as the mid-2000's. The most recent year with zero total MVP and Cy Young votes was 2011.

Mariner players have won two MVP awards and two Cy Young awards. Three of the those awards came in years that are placed in the top five years while the fourth -- Felix's Cy Young in 2010 -- appears all the way back in tenth.

It's also interesting to see which Mariner players have received votes over the years. My favorites are the players like Richie Sexson (7 pts, 2005) and J.J. Putz (12 pts, 2007), who were good enough to earn more than a just a few 10th place votes but weren't good enough to earn much more than that. Then there are the names that show up all over that table -- the icons of the franchise. Here are the top five earners by total MVP votes or Cy Young votes:

Total MVP votes

Total Cy Young votes

1254

Ken Griffey Jr.

453

Felix Hernandez

601

Alex Rodrigez

312

Randy Johnson

536

Ichiro Suzuki

73

Hisashi Iwakuma

396

Edgar Martinez

57

Freddy Garcia

324

Bret Boone

27

Jamie Moyer

With his second place finish this year, Felix Hernandez moved ahead of Randy Johnson as the top, Cy Young vote-getter as a Mariner. Robinson Cano quickly established himself as a threat to jump up this leaderboard in his first year as a Mariner. As someone like Bret Boone shows us, it could take just a few huge years to see a jump into the upper echelons of Mariner stardom.

What does this tell us about next year? Practically nothing. This was simply a frivolous exercise in the midst of the long offseason. I would like to point out that the years with the most similar point totals to 2014 were followed by playoff appearances the next year. Also, the closest year in total points to 2014 was followed by the historic 2001 Mariners. It's probably nothing, right?