American League MVPs by Year—1990s
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Please join me in a time warp of sorts. I'm writing this in December of 2007, a few weeks after the 2007 MVP Awards were announced. I published a hub on the winners of the award in this decade, and now take a look at the American League MVP winners of the 1990s.
1999-Ivan Rodriguez, Texas Rangers
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez was an offensive force for the Texas Rangers for several years, but at the peak of his career in 1999, he had highs in both home runs (35) and runs batted in (113). Rodriguez also batted .332 with 199 hits including 29 doubles, and added a career high of 25 stolen bases. Still, it was a very close vote between Rodriguez, Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez, and Cleveland's Roberto Alomar and Manny Ramirez.
1998-Juan Gonzalez, Texas Rangers
In winning the second of his two career MVP Awards, Outfielder Juan Gonzalez batted .318 with 45 homers and 157 RBI in 1998, winning the award in a landslide over Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. That year, Gonzalez also hit a career high of 50 doubles and had a slugging percentage of .630.
1997-Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle Mariners
As many times as he's been in the running for the award during a stellar career, this was outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr.'s only MVP crown. In this 1997 season, he won the award by reaching a career high with 147 RBI and tying a career best of 56 homers, which he did in both 1997 and 1998. Griffey batted .304 with a .646 slugging percentage, and 185 hits including 34 doubles.
1996-Juan Gonzalez, Texas Rangers
In a very close vote, Juan Gonzalez won the first of his two career MVP Awards, beating out Seattle's Alex Rodriguez by a mere three points in the voting. Cleveland's Albert Belle wasn't far behind either, but in the end it was Gonzalez' .314 batting average with 47 home runs (a career high) and 144 RBI that helped him win the award. He also belted 33 doubles and had a career best .643 slugging percentage.
1995-Mo Vaughn, Boston Red Sox
Cleveland's Albert Belle might have had slightly better numbers overall, but it was probably the fact that Mo Vaughn was a slightly nicer guy that helped him earn the AL MVP Award in 1995. Vaughn batted .300 with 39 homers and 126 runs batted in, while Belle hit .317 with 50 homers and the same number of RBI. Vaughn also stole a career high of 11 bases that season.
1994-Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox
First baseman Frank Thomas won his second straight AL MVP Award in 1994 by hitting a career high of .353 and belting 38 home runs with 101 RBI. Thomas also hit 34 doubles and had a career best slugging percentage of .729 in winning the award over Ken Griffey Jr. by a fairly wide margin.
1993-Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox
Though none of his stats in 1993 were career bests, Frank Thomas won his first AL MVP Award by a comfortable margin over Toronto's Paul Molitor in 1993. That season, Thomas batted .317 with 41 homers, 128 RBI, 36 doubles, a .426 on base average and .607 slugging percentage.
1992-Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics
It's not common for a pitcher to win the MVP Award, and much less common still for a relief pitcher to win it. But that's what Oakland's Dennis Eckersley did in 1992, becoming the third reliever in history to win the Cy Young and MVP Awards, and also by becoming the first pitcher in history to have both a 20-win season and 50-save season. In this magical year of 1992, Eckersley went 7-1 with 51 saves, striking out 93 batters and walking just 11 in 80 innings of work.
1991-Cal Ripken, Jr., Baltimore Orioles
Shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. won his second MVP Award in 1991, and at the age of 30 enjoyed somewhat of a comeback season. Ripken batted .323 with career highs of 34 home runs and 114 runs batted in. He also hit 46 doubles and had a fielding percentage of .986. And as you probably suspect, he played in all 162 games. Ripken beat out Detroit's Cecil Fielder by a pretty slim margin.
1990-Rickey Henderson, Oakland Athletics
Rickey Henderson had a long, stellar career and still leads the big leagues all-time with 1406 stolen bases. But in 1990, Henderson won his only MVP Award by hitting a career high of .325 with 28 home runs (which tied a career high), 61 RBI, 33 doubles, 65 stolen bases and an on base average of .439. Henderson was easily one of the game's most exciting players of all-time.