There is no stage bigger in professional baseball than the Fall Classic. Plenty of all-time great players go their whole careers without ever getting the chance to play in a World Series, while others squander the opportunity once they get there.
This isn’t about the guys who fell short, though. We’re here to celebrate the players who rose to the occasion at the most critical time of their careers. PointAfter, a sports data site powered by Graphiq, looked back at the 62-year history of the World Series MVP award to celebrate each winner.
Ben Zobrist is the most recent recipient of the award thanks to his strong series, as he helped lead the Chicago Cubs to their first championship since 1908. There are 17 World Series MVPs currently in the Hall of Fame. In the award’s 61-year history, only once has a player from the series’ losing team been named the MVP — Bobby Richardson in 1960.
1955: SP Johnny Podres, Brooklyn Dodgers
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 18.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 10 K, 4 BB
Podres would eventually win two more World Series titles with the Dodgers in 1959 and 1963, though his 1955 series performance was by far the best of his career.
1956: SP Don Larsen, New York Yankees
Series stats: 2 GS, 1-0 W-L, 10.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 7 K, 4 BB
Larsen made history by pitching the first (and, to date, only) perfect game in World Series history, retiring all 27 batters he faced in Game 1. That feat also stands as the only no-hitter in World Series history. In his two starts combined, Larsen allowed just one hit and four walks in 37 batters faced.
1957: SP Lew Burdette, Milwaukee Braves
Series stats: 3 GS, 3-0 W-L, 27.0 IP, 0.67 ERA, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 13 K, 4 BB
Burdette was virtually unhittable in this series. In the four games not started by Burdette, the Yankees scored a combined 23 runs. They scored just two in his three starts, with Burdette throwing a complete game in all three.
1958: P Bob Turley, New York Yankees
Series stats: 4 G, 2 GS, 2-1 W-L, 1 SV, 16.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 13 K, 7 BB
Turley’s 1958 World Series got off to just about the worst start imaginable. He didn’t make it out of the first inning in his Game 2 start, surrendering four runs on three hits, including a lead-off home run by Bill Burton, who’d hit just three homers in the regular season.
Turley was pulled after recording just one out. From then on, he was dominant. He threw a shutout in Game 5 to stave off elimination, then earned a one-out save in Game 6. The next day, he pitched 6.2 innings in relief, earning the win as the Yankees defeated the Braves in Game 7 by a score of 6-2.
1959: RP Larry Sherry, Los Angeles Dodgers
Series stats: 4 G, 2-0 W-L, 2 SV, 12.2 IP, 0.71 ERA, 5 K, 2 BB
Sherry pitched in all four Dodgers wins in this series, earning two wins and two saves. He threw five innings combined in Games 2 and 3, picking up the save in both games. His best performance came in the series-clinching Game 6, when he pitched 5.2 innings out of the bullpen. He gave up no runs and allowed just five baserunners in 22 batters faced.
1960: 2B Bobby Richardson, New York Yankees
Series stats: 31 PA, .367 BA/.387 OBP/.667 SLG, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 12 RBI, 8 R
Richardson was a member of three different Yankees championship teams, but it was his performance in New York’s losing effort in 1960 that earned him his lone World Series MVP award. His grand slam in Game 3 highlighted a 10-0 Yankees win, giving New York a 2-1 series advantage. But the Pirates won three of the next four games to win the title, though Richardson’s bat stayed hot. In the series’ final four games, he went a combined 6-for-17 with two triples and a double.
1961: SP Whitey Ford, New York Yankees
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 14.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 7 K, 1 BB
1961 was a great year for Ford, who won the American League Cy Young award to go along with his World Series MVP title. Ford threw a shutout in Game 1 to set the tone for the series, allowing just two hits and one walk with six strikeouts. He was cruising during his Game 4 start when an ankle injury forced him out of the game after only five innings. Jim Coates relieved him and pitched four scoreless frames in New York’s 7-0 win, and the Yankees clobbered the Reds the next day in Game 5, 13-5, to clinch the championship. The title marked the fifth of six Ford would win in his Hall of Fame career.
1962: SP Ralph Terry, New York Yankees
Series stats: 3 GS, 2-1 W-L, 25.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 16 K, 2 BB
The 1962 season was a year to remember for Terry. At age 26, he made his only career All-Star team and set career highs in wins (23), innings (298.2) and strikeouts (176). In the World Series against the Giants, he took a tough-luck loss in Game 2, surrendering just two runs in seven innings in a 2-0 loss. He fired a complete game in Game 5 to give New York a 3-2 series lead, then threw a shutout in Game 7, which the Yankees won 1-0 for the franchise’s 20th World Series title.
1963: SP Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 18.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 2 CG, 23 K, 3 BB
The 1963 World Series was the culmination of a virtually perfect year for Koufax. The Hall of Famer won his first Cy Young award and also was named the regular season Most Valuable Player. Koufax threw complete games in Games 1 and 4, as the Dodgers swept the Yankees for the franchise’s third World Series title and second since moving to Los Angeles.
1964: SP Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals
Series stats: 3 GS, 2-1 W-L, 27.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 2 CG, 31 K, 8 BB
Gibson turned in two legendary starts in the 1963 World Series. The first came in Game 5, with the series tied at two games apiece. Gibson pitched 10 innings with 13 strikeouts and two walks. He singled in the fifth inning and scored the game’s first run. Gibson allowed only two unearned runs — both in the bottom of the ninth — that sent the game into extras. St. Louis scored three runs in the top of the 10th to reclaim the lead, and Gibson held the Yankees scoreless in the bottom half to seal the win. He then threw a complete game three days later, though he allowed five runs. The Cardinals gave him enough runs support by scoring seven runs, and St. Louis won the game, 7-5, clinching the championship.
1965: SP Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers
Series stats: 3 GS, 2-1 W-L, 24.0 IP, 0.38 ERA, 2 CG, 2 SHO, 29 K, 5 BB, 0.75 WHIP
Koufax was at the absolute peak of his powers in 1965. He set career highs in innings pitched (335.2), strikeouts (382), WHIP (0.855) and complete games (27). He won his second career Cy Young award and was the runner-up for NL MVP. Against the Twins in the World Series, Koufax lost Game 2 despite allowing just one run in six innings with nine strikeouts.
The loss gave Minnesota a 2-0 series lead, but the Dodgers won the next three games, including Game 5, in which Koufax threw a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. Three days later, Koufax fired a three-hit shutout on the road as Los Angeles won, 2-0. In his three starts, Koufax faced a combined 87 batters and allowed only 18 baserunners. Game 7 was Koufax’s final World Series win, as he lost his lone start in the 1966 World Series. He retired following the loss, ending his one-of-a-kind career at age 30 due to elbow injuries.
1966: RF Frank Robinson, Baltimore Orioles
Series stats: 16 PA, .286 BA/.375 OBP/.857 SLG, 2 HR, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 4 R
Robinson wasted no time cementing himself as an Orioles legend. After acquiring Robinson from Cincinnati in an offseason trade, Robinson made history in his first season in Baltimore by winning the AL MVP award, becoming the first (and, to date, only) player in league history to win the MVP award in both leagues. In the Orioles’ four-game sweep of the Dodgers, Baltimore outscored Los Angeles by a combined score of 13-2. Robinson was the team’s best hitter during the series, which was the franchise’s first championship.
1967: SP Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals
Series stats: 3 GS, 3-0 W-L, 27.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 3 CG, 1 SHO, 26 K, 5 BB
Gibson put together perhaps the most dominant pitching performance in World Series history in 1967, as the Cardinals edged the Red Sox in a classic seven-game series. Gibson started Games 1, 4 and 7 — all St. Louis victories — and the Cardinals outscored the Red Sox in those games by a combined score of 15-3. St. Louis won Game 7, 7-2, thanks in part to Gibson’s two-run home run in the fifth inning that gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. He struck out 10 batters with three walks in Game 7, allowing just two runs to earn his second career World Series MVP award.
1968: SP Mickey Lolich, Detroit Tigers
Series stats: 3 GS, 3-0 W-L, 27.0 IP, 1.67 ERA, 3 CG, 21 K, 6 BB
After Lolich threw a complete game in Game 2 to even the 1968 World Series 1-1, the Cardinals won the next two games to take a 3-1 lead. Lolich gave up three runs in the first inning of his Game 5 start but shut down St. Louis the rest of the way, as Detroit scored five unanswered runs to stay alive. The Tigers won 13-1 in Game 6 to force a Game 7, which Lolich started on just two days’ rest. The game was scoreless after six innings, as Lolich and Bob Gibson matched each other pitch for pitch, before the Tigers scored three in the seventh. They added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, and Lolich allowed just one run in the bottom of the ninth to preserve a 4-1, championship-clinching victory.
1969: 1B Donn Clendenon, New York Mets
Series stats: 16 PA, .357 BA/.438 OBP/1.071 SLG, 3 HR, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 4 R
The 1969 Miracle Mets finished off their remarkable season with a World Series victory over the Orioles. After posting a 73-89 record in 1968, the 1969 Mets went 100-62 to win the NL East. Clendenon homered in Games 2, 4 and 5 — all Mets wins — as New York won the series 4-1.
1970: 3B Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles
Series stats: 21 PA, .429 BA/.429 OBP/.810 SLG, 2 HR, 2 2B, 9 H, 6 RBI, 5 R
The Orioles bounced back from the previous season’s World Series defeat to win the title in 1970, their second in franchise history. For the series, Robinson led or tied for the team lead in hits, home runs, extra base hits, RBI and runs scored. His biggest moment came in Game 1, when he hit the game-winning solo home run in the seventh inning of Baltimore’s 4-3 victory.
1971: RF Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates
Series stats: 31 PA, .414 BA/.452 OBP/.759 SLG, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 12 H, 4 RBI, 3 R
In the 1971 World Series, the Orioles jumped out to a 2-0 lead, winning the first two games at home. After the series moved to Pittsburgh, the Pirates won the next three games, with Clemente going 5-for-12 during that stretch. Baltimore won Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7. Clemente staked the Pirates to a 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning. Pittsburgh scored again in the eighth and hung on to win the game, 2-1.
1972: C Gene Tenace, Oakland Athletics
Series stats: 25 PA, .348 BA/.400 OBP/.913 SLG, 4 HR, 8 H, 9 RBI, 5 R
The Athletics’ 1972 title was the franchise’s first since moving to Oakland. The A’s topped the Reds in a classic seven-game series, and Tenace hit safely in five of the seven games. He homered in his first two at-bats in Game 1, becoming the first player ever to homer in his two initial World Series appearances. Tenace drove in all three runs in Oakland’s 3-2 Game 1 victory, and later homered in Games 4 and 5. He went 2-for-3 with two RBI in the team’s 3-2 win in Game 7, easily establishing himself as the series MVP.
1973: RF Reggie Jackson, Oakland Athletics
Series stats: 31 PA, .310 BA/.355 OBP/.586 SLG, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 9 H, 6 RBI, 3 R
Jackson won both regular season and World Series MVP awards in 1973, as he hit 32 home runs with 117 RBI on the year. Jackson’s lone homer of the series came in Game 7 — a two-run shot in the bottom of the third inning that gave Oakland a 4-0 lead over the Mets. The A’s went on to win the game, 5-2, for their second consecutive World Series title.
1974: RP Rollie Fingers, Oakland Athletics
Series stats: 4 G, 1-0 W-L, 2 SV, 9.1 IP, 1.93 ERA, 6 K, 2 BB
Fingers appeared in all four A’s victories during the 1974 World Series, though he was at his best in Game 1. He threw 4.1 innings in relief, allowing just one run in a 3-2 win. He pitched the final two innings of the series-clinching Game 5, allowing no runs in another 3-2 victory.
1975: 3B Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds
Series stats: 33 PA, .370 BA/.485 OBP/.481 SLG, 10 H, 2 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB, 1 K
The 1975 World Series is considered one of the greatest in the game’s history, with the Reds beating the Red Sox in seven games. The most iconic moment came in Game 6, when Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning to even the series. In Game 7, it was Rose who came through in the clutch, driving in Ken Griffey for the winning run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.
1976: C Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds
Series stats: 15 PA, .533 BA/.533 OBP/1.133 SLG, 2 HR, 4 XBH, 8 H, 6 RBI, 4 R
The Big Red Machine annihilated the Yankees in the 1976 World Series, sweeping New York in four games and outscoring the Yankees by a combined score of 22-8. Bench was unstoppable, as he had two hits in each game. He saved his best for last, hitting two home runs with five RBI in the title-clinching Game 4.
1977: RF Reggie Jackson, New York Yankees
Series stats: 24 PA, .450 BA/.542 OBP/1.250 SLG, 5 HR, 9 H, 8 RBI, 10 R
The 1977 World Series is where Jackson earned the nickname “Mr. October.” With the Yankees leading the Dodgers, three games to two, heading into Game 6, Jackson rose to the occasion. He became the first player to hit three home runs in a World Series game since Babe Ruth in 1928, and the Yankees won the game, 8-4, to clinch the championship.
1978: SS Bucky Dent, New York Yankees
Series stats: 25 PA, .417 BA/.440 OBP/.458 SLG, 10 H, 7 RBI, 3 R
Dent could safely be described as your typical light-hitting middle infielder. During his 12-year career, Dent owned a .247/.297/.321 slash line and a 74 OPS+. None of that mattered in October 1978, though. Dent is most famous for his three-run home run in the American League East tiebreaker game against the Red Sox, earning him the nickname “Bucky F***ing Dent” among Boston fans. In the 1978 World Series, he led the Yankees in hits and tied for second in RBI. After the Dodgers won the series’ first two games, the Yankees won the next four, thanks in large part to Dent’s hot bat. In the four victories, Dent went 8-for-16 with five RBI.
1979: 1B Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates
Series stats: 32 PA, .400 BA/.375 OBP/.833 SLG, 3 HR, 4 2B, 12 H, 7 RBI, 7 R
At 39 years old, Stargell won both regular season and World Series MVP honors in 1979, leading the “We Are Family” Pirates to their fifth championship in franchise history. In the decisive Game 7, Stargell went 4-for-5 with a home run and two doubles. His two-run homer in the top of the sixth gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead, and the Pirates scored twice more in the ninth to win the game, 4-1.
1980: 3B Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies
Series stats: 26 PA, .381 BA/.462 OBP/.714 SLG, 2 HR, 8 H, 7 RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 K
Schmidt won his first regular season MVP award in 1980 and came through in the clutch during the World Series. With the series tied at two games apiece, Schmidt hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth to give Philadelphia a 2-0 lead over Kansas City in Game 5. The Phillies went on to win, 4-3, and then won Game 6, 4-1, to clinch the championship. Schmidt hit safely in every game and drove in at least one run in the last five games of the series.
1981: 3B Ron Cey, RF Pedro Guerrero, C Steve Yeager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Cey’s Series stats: 24 PA, .350 BA/.458 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 HR, 7 H, 6 RBI, 3 R
Guerrero’s Series stats: 24 PA, .333 BA/.417 OBP/.762 SLG, 2 HR, 4 XBH, 7 H, 7 RBI, 2 R
Yeager’s Series stats: 15 PA, .286 BA/.267 OBP/.786 SLG, 2 HR, 4 H, 4 RBI, 2 R
For the first time ever, there were co-MVPs of the World Series. During the Dodgers’ 4-2 series win over the Yankees, the trio combined to drive in 17 of Los Angeles’ 27 runs, going 18-for-55 (.327) with eight extra base hits. The rest of the team combined to hit 34-for-143 (.238) with only five extra base hits. In Game 5, with the series tied at two games apiece, the Dodgers trailed, 1-0, in the bottom of the seventh inning. Guerrero and Yeager hit back-to-back solo homers, as the Dodgers won the game, 2-1. Los Angeles went on to win Game 6 in a 9-2 blowout for their first championship since 1965.
1982: C Darrell Porter, St. Louis Cardinals
Series stats: 29 PA, .286 BA/.310 OBP/.464 SLG, 1 HR, 8 H, 5 RBI, 1 R
The Cardinals defeated the Brewers in seven games during the 1982 series, with Porter hitting safely in six of the seven games. He homered during Game 6, a blowout, 13-1 victory for St. Louis, and drove in a run in Game 7. The Cardinals won the championship-clinching game, 6-3, for their ninth title in franchise history.
1983: C Rick Dempsey, Baltimore Orioles
Series stats: 15 PA, .385 BA/.467 OBP/.923 SLG, 1 HR, 4 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R
The Orioles beat the Phillies in five games during the 1983 World Series, with two of their wins coming by one run. Dempsey tied for the team lead with five hits and led the way with four doubles. He went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run in the series-clinching Game 5 to help earn him the MVP honors.
1984: SS Alan Trammell, Detroit Tigers
Series stats: 23 PA, .450 BA/.500 OBP/.800 SLG, 2 HR, 9 H, 6 RBI, 5 R, 1 SB
Trammell led the Tigers with nine hits in the World Series and tied for the team lead in home runs, as Detroit beat the Padres in five games. Trammell had multiple hits in each of the first four games and homered twice in Game 4, driving in all four runs in a 4-2 win. Though he went hitless in Game 5, his play leading up to the final game was easily enough to make him the deserving MVP.
1985: SP Bret Saberhagen, Kansas City Royals
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 18.0 IP, 0.50 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 10 K, 1 BB, 0.67 WHIP
Saberhagen started Game 7 of the ALCS, so he wasn’t available in the World Series until Game 3. He threw a complete game in Kansas City’s 6-1 Game 3 victory, then pitched in the decisive Game 7. He threw a five-hit shutout as the Royals won a blowout, 11-0, with two strikeouts and no walks.
1986: 3B Ray Knight, New York Mets
Series stats: 25 PA, .391 BA/.440 OBP/.565 SLG, 1 HR, 9 H, 5 RBI, 4 R
In one of the greatest World Series of all time, Knight was at the center of perhaps the most iconic play in baseball history. Knight scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning of Game 6 thanks to an error by Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. In Game 7, Knight hit the go-ahead solo home run to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. New York went on to win the game, 8-5, to earn the franchise’s second World Series title.
1987: SP Frank Viola, Minnesota Twins
Series stats: 3 GS, 2-1 W-L, 19.1 IP, 3.72 ERA, 16 K, 3 BB
The 1987 World Series was bookended by wins from Viola, who pitched eight innings in each of his starts in Game 1 and Game 7. He got roughed up in Game 4, allowing five runs in 3.1 innings, but came through in the final game by giving up only two runs with seven strikeouts.
1988: SP Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles Dodgers
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 18.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 17 K, 6 BB
The most iconinc moment in the 1988 World Series came in Game 1, which Hershiser did not pitch, when Kirk Gibson hit a walk-off two-run home run off of Dennis Eckersley. Hershiser then threw a three-hit shutout in Game 2, then tossed a complete game during the Dodgers’ 5-2 win in Game 5 that clinched the championship.
1989: SP Dave Stewart, Oakland Athletics
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 16.0 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 14 K, 2 BB
In what was dubbed the “Bay Bridge Series,” the 1989 World Series is most notable for the Loma Prieta earthquake that occurred less than an hour before the start of Game 3. The series was delayed 10 days, and the Athletics swept the Giants in four games. Stewart was dominant in his Game 1 start, striking out six and allowing just six baserunners in a shutout. He pitched seven innings with eight strikeouts in Game 3, which the A’s won, 13-7. For the series, Oakland outscored San Francisco by a combined score of 32-14.
1990: SP Jose Rijo, Cincinnati Reds
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 15.1 IP, 0.59 ERA, 14 K, 5 BB
The Reds thwarted the Athletics’ bid for back-to-back titles, as Cincinnati swept Oakland in four games. Rijo won both of his starts, throwing seven shutout innings with five strikeouts. In Game 4, Rijo pitched 8.1 innings and allowed just two hits with nine strikeouts, as the Reds won by a score of 2-1 to complete the sweep.
1991: SP Jack Morris, Minnesota Twins
Series stats: 3 GS, 2-0 W-L, 23.0 IP, 1.17 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 15 K, 9 BB
Morris is best known for his heroic performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, which was a scoreless tie after nine innings. Morris pitched all 10 innings of that game, allowing seven hits and no runs with eight strikeouts. The Twins won the game (and the championship) on a walk-off single from Gene Larkin that scored Dan Gladden. Morris threw 126 pitches and out-dueled John Smoltz in one of the most famous Game 7 accomplishments of all time.
1992: C Pat Borders, Toronto Blue Jays
Series stats: 22 PA, .450 BA/.500 OBP/.750 SLG, 1 HR, 3 2B, 9 H, 3 RBI, 2 R
In the 1992 World Series, Borders led the Blue Jays in hits and doubles, and tied for the lead in RBI. He hit safely in all six games and went 2-for-4 with a double in the title-clinching Game 6, which Toronto won in 11 innings.
1993: DH Paul Molitor, Toronto Blue Jays
Series stats: 28 PA, .500 BA/.571 OBP/1.000 SLG, 2 HR, 6 XBH, 12 H, 8 RBI, 10 R, 1 SB
The 1993 World Series is best remembered for Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in Game 6 that ended the series and clinched back-to-back titles for the Blue Jays. It was only the second walk-off, World Series-ending homer in baseball history, which makes it that much more remarkable that it was Molitor, not Carter, who took home MVP honors. The Phillies simply could not get Molitor out. He hit safely in all six games and had four multi-hit games, including a 3-for-5 performance in Game 6 with a home run. Molitor became the first player in World Series history to hit at least two home runs, two triples and two doubles.
1995: SP Tom Glavine, Atlanta Braves
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 14.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 11 K, 6 BB, 0.71 WHIP
A players’ strike wiped out the end of the 1994 MLB season and canceled the World Series, making it only the second time in the event’s history (and first since 1904) that the World Series was not played. The Fall Classic returned in 1995, with the Braves beating the Indians in six games. Glavine won Games 2 and 6, both one-run wins for Atlanta. In Game 6, Glavine allowed just one hit in eight innings in a 1-0 Braves victory.
1996: RP John Wetteland, New York Yankees
Series stats: 5 G, 4 SV, 4.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 6 K, 1 BB
The Yankees’ offense did not show up in the 1996 World Series, which New York won in six games over Atlanta. As a team, the Yankees hit .216/.310/.286 with just 18 runs and nine extra base hits in six games. Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, then New York ripped off four straight wins, with Wetteland earning the save in each victory.
1997: SP Livan Hernandez, Florida Marlins
Series stats: 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 13.2 IP, 5.27 ERA, 7 K, 10 BB
In the 1997 World Series, the Marlins defeated the Indians in seven games, and Hernandez was the beneficiary of great run support in his two starts. He gave up three runs in 5.2 innings in Florida’s 7-4 Game 1 victory, then allowed five earned runs in eight innings in Game 5. He struck out just two batters with eight walks, though the Marlins won the game, 8-7. The Marlins won Game 7 in 11 innings, ending the game on a walk-off single by Edgar Renteria with the bases loaded and two outs. Perhaps Renteria or Moises Alou, who hit .321 with three homers, would have been more deserving MVPs than Hernandez, but Hernandez was rewarded largely for his workman’s-like performance in Game 5, in which he threw 142 pitches.
1998: 3B Scott Brosius, New York Yankees
Series stats: 17 PA, .471 BA/.471 OBP/.824 SLG, 2 HR, 8 H, 6 RBI, 3 R
In the Yankees’ four-game sweep of the Padres, Brosius led the team in hits, home runs and RBI. New York outscored San Diego by a combined score of 26-13 in what would be their first of three straight World Series titles.
1999: RP Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Series stats: 3 G, 1-0 W-L, 2 SV, 4.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 K, 1 BB
The Yankees notched their second straight World Series sweep, this time beating the Braves in four games. Rivera earned the save in Game 1, then pitched two innings in relief to pick up the win in Game 3. He pitched the final 1.1 innings in Game 4 to clinch the champoinship. For the series, Rivera allowed just four baserunners in 17 batters faced.
2000: SS Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Series stats: 25 PA, .409 BA/.480 OBP/.864 SLG, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 9 H, 2 RBI, 6 R
In what was dubbed the “Freeway Series,” the Yankees beat the Mets in five games for their third consecutive World Series title. Jeter hit safely in all five games, including three multi-hit games. Despite the series lasting just five games, each contest was extremely close. Three of the Yankees’ four wins came by one run, and Game 5 was decided by two runs. Jeter’s best game came in Game 4, when he went 2-for-5 with a home run, triple and two runs scored.
2001: SP Randy Johnson, SP Curt Schilling, Arizona Diamondbacks
Johnson Series stats: 3 G, 2 GS, 3-0 W-L, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 17.1 IP, 1.04 ERA, 19 K, 3 BB, 0.69 WHIP
Schilling Series stats: 3 GS, 1-0 W-L, 21.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, 26 K, 2 BB
The 2001 World Series had players share MVP honors for the second time ever, as both Johnson and Schilling were absolutely dominant. Johnson fired a three-hit shutout in Game 2, with 11 strikeouts. He pitched seven innings in Game 6, which the Diamondbacks won, 15-2, then recorded the last four outs of Game 7 the next day.
Schilling pitched seven innings and allowed three hits and one run in each of his first two starts — a Game 1 win and a Game 4 loss. He started Game 7 on three days’ rest, going 7.1 innings with nine strikeouts. He left the game in the eighth after surrendering the go-ahead home run to Alfonso Soriano and was relieved by Johnson. Arizona rallied in the bottom of the ninth and won the game (and the championship) on a walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez.
2002: 3B Troy Glaus, Anaheim Angels
Series stats: 30 PA, .385 BA/.467 OBP/846 SLG, 3 HR, 3 2B, 10 H, 8 RBI, 7 R
Glaus had four multi-hit games in the 2002 World Series, as the Angels beat the Giants in seven games. He hit two home runs in Game 1, which the Angels lost, 4-3. With Anaheim facing elimination in Game 6, Glaus hit the go-ahead double in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in two runs and help force a Game 7. Despite Glaus’ heroics, a strong argument could be made that San Francisco’s Barry Bonds was the deserving MVP of the series. In a losing effort, Bonds went 8-for-17 with four home runs and 13 walks (including seven intentional walks) in 30 plate appearances, good for a .471/.700/1.294 slash line.
2003: SP Josh Beckett, Florida Marlins
Series stats: 2 GS, 1-1 W-L, 16.1 IP, 1.10 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 19 K, 5 BB
Beckett took a tough-luck loss in Game 3, as he gave up just two runs and struck out 10 batters in 7.1 innings during a 6-1 loss. He was dominant in the title-clinching Game 6, shutting out the Yankees with nine strikeouts to earn the Marlins their second World Series title in franchise history.
2004: LF Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
Series stats: 20 PA, .412 BA/.500 OBP/.588 SLG, 1 HR, 7 H, 4 RBI, 2 R
The highlight of the 2004 postseason came in the American League Championship Series, where the Red Sox staged a miraculous comeback from a 3-0 series deficit against the Yankees to win the pennant. That made the Fall Classic a bit anticlimactic, as Boston beat the Cardinals in four games. Ramirez was the team’s best hitter as the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918.
2005: RF Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox
Series stats: 19 PA, .438 BA/.526 OBP/.688 SLG, 1 HR, 7 H, 3 RBI, 3 R
The White Sox swept the Astros in four extremely close games. Chicago won each game by two runs or fewer, including a 7-5 win in Game 3 that lasted 14 innings. Dye went 7-for-16 in the series with hits in every game. He went 3-for-4 in Game 4 and drove in the game’s only run.
2006: SS David Eckstein, St. Louis Cardinals
Series stats: 23 PA, .364 BA/.391 OBP/.500 SLG, 8 H, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R
The 2006 Cardinals snuck into the playoffs despite having a mediocre 83-78 record in the regular season. They caught fire in October, though, and beat the Tigers in five games to win the World Series. Eckstein tied for the team lead in hits, doubles and RBI. He went 4-for-5 and hit the go-ahead RBI double to win Game 4, then went 2-for-4 with two RBI in Game 5 to help clinch the championship.
2007: 3B Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox
Series stats: 18 PA, .400 BA/.500 OBP/.800 SLG, 1 HR, 3 2B, 6 H, 4 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB
Three years after breaking the “Curse of the Bambino,” the Red Sox won another World Series in 2007, this time beating the Colorado Rockies in four games. Lowell led the team in runs scored and tied with Jacoby Ellsbury for the lead in extra base hits. He had a hit in every game and recorded two multi-hit games, and Boston outscored Colorado by a combined score of 29-10.
2008: SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Series stats: 2 GS, 1-0 W-L, 13.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, 8 K, 3 BB
Hamels came out on top in a pitchers’ duel in Game 1, throwing seven innings and allowing five hits with five strikeouts in a 3-2 Phillies win. He pitched well in a no-decision in Game 5, lasting six innings and giving up two runs and five hits with three strikeouts. Philadelphia won Game 5 to earn the World Series title over the Tampa Bay Rays, with relief pitcher J.C. Romero getting the victory.
2009: DH Hideki Matsui, New York Yankees
Series stats: 14 PA, .615 BA/.643 OBP/1.385 SLG, 3 HR, 8 H, 8 RBI, 3 R
Matsui was unstoppable at the plate in the 2009 World Series, reaching base in nine out of 14 plate appearances with three homers. His solo home run in the sixth inning of Game 2 broke a 1-1 tie, and the Yankees won the game, 3-1. Matsui had a pinch-hit homer in New York’s 8-5 win in Game 3, then gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in Game 6 on a two-run bomb in the second inning. He went 3-for-4 in Game 6 with six RBI as the Yankees won, 7-3, easily making him the series’ MVP.
2010: SS Edgar Renteria, San Francisco Giants
Series stats:18 PA, .412 BA/.444 OBP/.765 SLG, 2 HR, 7 H, 6 RBI, 6 R
Thirteen years after his walk-off single in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Renteria earned MVP honors in the 2010 Fall Classic at age 33. His biggest moment came in Game 5, when he broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh with a three-run home run. After allowing a home run to the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz in the bottom half of the inning, San Francisco held Texas scoreless to clinch the series.
2011: 3B David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
Series stats: 28 PA, .348 BA/.464 OBP/.696 SLG, 1 HR, 5 XBH, 8 H, 7 RBI, 4 R
Game 6 of the 2011 World Series is on the shortlist of greatest Fall Classic games of all time. Facing elimination, the Cardinals trailed, 7-5, in the bottom of the ninth when Freese tied the game on a two-out, two-RBI triple. He later ended the game on a walk-off solo home run in the 11th, setting up Game 7. St. Louis won the decisive game, 6-2, handing Texas its second consecutive World Series defeat.
2012: 3B Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
Series stats: 17 PA, .500 BA/.529 OBP/1.125 SLG
Sandoval set the tone for the series with three home runs in the Giants’ 8-3 Game 1 victory. He joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game. Kung Fu Panda hit safely in every game as San Francisco beat the Tigers in four games.
2013: DH David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Series stats: 25 PA, .688 BA/.760 OBP/1.188 SLG, 2 HR, 2 2B, 11 H, 6 RBI, 7 R, 8 BB, 1 K
Simply put, the Cardinals’ pitching staff had no answer for Ortiz, who was as locked in as he’d ever been during the 2013 postseason. He reached base multiple times in all six games as the Red Sox topped the Cardinals for Boston’s third World Series title in 10 years.
2014: SP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Series stats: 3 G, 2 GS, 2-0 W-L, 1 SV, 21.0 IP, 0.43 ERA, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 17 K, 1 BB, 0.48 WHIP
Bumgarner put together one of the most incredible individual performances in World Series history, as the Giants continued their “Even Year Magic” by beating the Royals in seven games. Bumgarner was dominant in his two starts, throwing seven innings of one-run ball in Game 1 and pitching a shutout in Game 5. He then threw five innings of relief in Game 7, protecting a one-run lead to close out the game on only two days’ rest. Bumgarner’s five-inning save was the longest in World Series history
2015: C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Series stats: 23 PA, .364 BA/.391 OBP/.455 SLG, 8 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R
After losing the 2014 World Series in heart-breaking fashion, Kansas City recovered to win the title in 2015. Perez led the Royals with eight hits in the series and was one of the few everyday players who hit well, as the team hit just .239/.295/.330 collectively. Perez was the first catcher to win the World Series MVP award since Pat Borders in 1992.
2016: OF Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs
Series stats: 31 PA, .357 BA/.419 OBP/.500 SLG, 10 H, 2 RBI, 5 R
The Cubs’ 2016 World Series title, which ended an astounding 108-year championship drought, was certainly a team effort, So many played key roles, but it was Zobrist who ultimately got the nod as series MVP for his consistent performance throughout the seven-game set. He hit safely in six of the seven games and drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 7 on an RBI double. It was the decisive moment in one of the greatest World Series games ever, and certainly enough to set Zobrist apart from the rest of his teammates.