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Does An MVP Candidate Need His Team To Finish In 1st Place? D-Wade Hopes Not


With all the MVP talk surrounding Dwyane Wade, one point that many ‘experts’ make is that Wade is not on a 1st place team, while LeBeon James and Kobe Bryant are.  How important is that when choosing an MVP?  By definition, MVP is for the Most Valuable Player, but to whom?  Is it to that player’s team, or to the league itself?  I sincerely hope that it’s for the particular players team.

Well…I decided to see how important being on a first place team is to becoming an MVP.  I did some digging and went back to 1985, searching the four major sports, and found each and every time an MVP was chosen that was not on a first place team.




87-88 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls 3rd in Central
98-99 Karl Malone Utah Jazz 2nd in Midwest



1997 Barry Sanders (co. MVP w/ Brett Favre) Detroit Lions 3rd in NFC Central
2000 Marshall Faulk St. Louis Rams 2nd in NFC West
2003 Steve McNair (co. MVP w/ Peyton Manning) Tennessee Titans 2nd in AFC South
2008 Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts 2nd in AFC South



1985 AL Don Mattingly New York Yankees 2nd in AL East
1986 NL Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies 2nd in NL East
1987 NL Andre Dawson Chicago Cubs Last in NL East
1987 AL George Bell Toronto Blue Jays 2nd in AL East
1989 AL Robin Yount Milwaukee Brewers 4th in AL West
1991 AL Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Orioles 6th in AL East
1993 NL Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 2nd in NL West
1994 NL Jeff Bagwell Houston Astros 2nd in NL Central
1997 NL Larry Walker Colorado Rockies 3rd in NL West
1998 NL Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 2nd in NL Central
2001 NL Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 2nd in NL West
2002 NL Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 2nd in NL West
2003 AL Alex Rodriguez Texas Rangers Last in AL West
2004 NL Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 2nd in NL West
2006 NL Ryan Howard Philadelphia Phillies 2nd in NL East
2007 AL Alex Rodriguez New York Yankees 2nd in AL East
2008 NL Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals 4th in NL Central
2008 AL Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox 2nd in AL East



87-88 Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins Last in Patrick
88-89 Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 2nd in Smythe
89-90 Mark Messier Edmonton Oilers 2nd in Smythe
90-91 Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 2nd in Norris
97-98 Dominik Hasek Buffalo Sabres 3rd in Northwest
98-99 Jaromir Jagr Pittsburgh Penguins 3rd in Atlantic
01-02 Jose' Theodore Montreal Canadians 4th in Northeast
05-06 Joe Thornton Boston Bruins/San Jose Sharks 2nd in Pacific (SJS)
06-07 Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins 2nd in Atlantic


Obviously it's a little different in sports where more players have the opportunity to make a difference.  In the NBA, usually at the most the 5 starters are the only ones who play enough to have a shot at MVP.  In football, there are only a handful of positions that can provide an MVP.  Baseball and Hockey have more players in the 'spotlight' you can see why they provide so many more non-1st MVPs.  And baseball has one for each league, so....