New York's Yankees won their first World Series since 1962, and started a modern version of their dynasty. The Yanks first had to survive a dogfight in the East Division, besting Boston and Baltimore each by a mere 2.5 games in a race to the end. The Yankees won 100 games, the Red Sox and Orioles 97 each. The rest of the division was under .500, even with the presence of two expansions teams, as Toronto and Seattle entered the league. Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee were the also-rans, and Toronto brought up the rear in the East with 107 losses.
The West was won by Kansas City for the second straight year, as the Royals won 102 games. Texas was 2nd, eight back, while Chicago surged to 3rd after a disastrous season in 1976. Bill Veeck tried shorts, giveaways, and big hitters in their walk years to boost his team. It worked. Minnesota was 4th, California 5th, and Seattle edged Oakland, which looked like an expansion team after being riddled by free agency. Charlie Finley's high-handed tactics came back to haunt him.
Rod Carew led in average, on-base, OPS, and won the MVP as he hit .388, the highest average Ted Williams hit the same in 1957. No one had been higher since Williams' .406 in 1941. Second to Carew in average was teammate Lyman Bostock, all the way back at .336. Carew also led with 239 hits and 128 runs. He was even a surprising second in slugging. Jim Rice led in slugging, and in homers with 39, followed by Bobby Bonds and Graig Nettles at 37. Larry Hisle led in RBI with 119, followed closely by Bonds at 115 and Rice at 114. Hal McRae had 54 doubles and Carew 16 triples. Freddy Patek led in steals with 53, followed by Mitchell Page at 42.
Reliever Sparky Lyle won the Cy Young, while Frank Tanana led in ERA with a 2.54 mark, followed by Bert Blyleven at 2.72. Nolan Ryan led in strikeouts with 341; second was Dennis Leonard with 244. Dave Campbell led in saves with 31, followed by Lyle at 26 and Larrin LaGrow at 25. Dave Goltz, Dennis Leonard and Jim Palmer tied with 20 wins. Tanana had seven shutouts while Palmer and Ryan each had 22 complete games.
The Win Shares leaderboard looks like this:
Players: Rod Carew (Minnesota) 37, Ken Singleton (Baltimore) 36, Carlton Fisk (Boston) and Mitchell Page (Oakland) 30, George Brett (Kansas City) 29, Al Cowens (Kansas City), Lyman Bostock (Minnesota) and Reggie Jackson (New York) 27, Jim Rice (Boston) and Hal McRae (Kansas City) 26, Graig Nettles (New York), Mike Hargrove and Toby Harrah (Texas) 25, Al Bumbry (Baltimore), Carl Yastrzemski (Boston), Bobby Bonds (California) and Larry Hisle (Minnesota) 24, Chet Lemon (Chicago) and Ron LeFlore (Detroit) 23.
Pitchers: Jim Palmer (Baltimore) 29, Dennis Leonard (Kansas City) 24, Bill Campbell (Boston) 23, Nolan Ryan (California) and Dave Goltz (Minnesota) 22, Bert Blyleven (Texas) 21, Frank Tanana (California) and Sparky Lyle (New York) 20, Dennis Eckersley (Cleveland), Dave Rozema (Detroit) and Ron Guidry (New York) 18.
WARP3 leaders, players: Carew 9.4, Singleton 9.0, Brett and Page 8.5, Fisk 8.2, Jim Sundberg (who was not much of a hitter, but a marvelous defensive catcher) 7.8, Nettles 7.0, Hargrove 6.7, Bump Wills (Texas) and Willie Randolph (New York) 6.5, Harrah, Bostock, and Bert Campaneris (Texas) 6.3, Don Money (Milwaukee) 5.9, Hisle 5.8, Andre Thornton (Cleveland) 5.7, Bonds and Jackson 5.6, Rice, Lemon, and Thurman Munson (New York) 5.5.
WARP3 leaders, pitchers: Tanana 7.5, Ryan 6.9, Campbell and Palmer 6.5, Eckersley 6.0, Leonard 5.7, Rozema 5.6, Wayne Garland (Cleveland) 5.0, Jerry Garvin (Toronto) 4.9, Blyleven and Larrin LaGrow (Chicago) 4.7.
WAR from Fangraphs, position players: Carew 8.6, Fisk 7.7, Brett 7.2, Page 6.3, Hargrove 5.8, Harrah and Singleton 5.7, Nettles 5.5, Bostock, Cowens, and Lemon 5.2, Bonds, Rice, and Yastrzemski 5.1, Jackson and Money 5.0, Sundberg and Wills 4.8.
Pitchers: Leonard 8.7, Ryan 6.8, Goltz 6.7, Tanana 6.0, Guidry and Perry 5.8, Blyleven and Palmer 5.4, Eckersley 4.7, Blue 4.6, Splittorff 4.4, Flanagan 4.3, Garland 4.2, Lemanczyk 4.0.
The actual voting results:
MVP (at least 10 points only):
Finish Name Team First-place Votes Total points
1 Rod Carew MIN 12 273
2 Al Cowens KCR 4 217
3 Ken Singleton BAL 3 200
4 Jim Rice BOS 1 163
5 Graig Nettles NYY 2 112
6 Sparky Lyle NYY 1 79
7 Thurman Munson NYY 1 70
8 Carlton Fisk BOS 1 67
8 Reggie Jackson NYY 1 67
10 Bill Campbell BOS 0 65
11 Mickey Rivers NYY 0 59
12 Larry Hisle MIN 1 54
13 George Brett KCR 0 51
14 Richie Zisk CHW 0 34
15 Jim Sundberg TEX 0 30
16 Bobby Bonds CAL 0 28
17 Carl Yastrzemski BOS 1 25
18 Ron Guidry NYY 0 11
The voting was much like 2003, as a player from an also-ran team won a split decision when no one from the top team stood out. The Series champ Yankees had six players listed here, but none higher than 5th.
Place Name Team First-place votes Points
1 Sparky Lyle NYY 9 56
2 Jim Palmer BAL 6 48
3 Nolan Ryan CAL 6 46
4 Dennis Leonard KCR 5 45
5 Bill Campbell BOS 1 25
6 Dave Goltz MIN 1 19
7 Ron Guidry NYY 0 5
8 Dave Rozema DET 0 4
9 Frank Tanana CAL 0 3
The voters assuaged their non-winner MVP guilt by going for Yankees reliever Lyle. Lyle wasn't even the best reliever in the league, although he had a good year.
Place Name Team First-place votes Points
1 Eddie Murray BAL 12 12
2 Mitchell Page OAK 9 9
3 Bump Wills TEX 4 4
4 Dave Rozema DET 2 2
Top player: Rod Carew, in his best year. Fisk and Singleton were also terrific, but Carew was the best. The .388 average lost its place in folklore when George Brett hit .390 three years later, but it was a terrific season for the Panamanian.
#1 Rod Carew, #2 Ken Singleton, #3 Carlton Fisk, #4 George Brett, #5 Mitchell Page, #6 Lyman Bostock.
Top pitcher: Dennis Leonard had a terrific year leading the Royals staff. It's a close race, but I'll go with him.
#1 Dennis Leonard, #2 Nolan Ryan, #3 Jim Palmer, #4 Frank Tanana, #5 Ron Guidry.
Top rookie: Mitchell Page had a great year, although Eddie Murray would have the Hall of Fame career.
Top manager: Credit Billy Martin here, managing a real team without a big star through a tough pennant race.