Rodriguez's first MVP award came in his third season with the Texas Rangers. Even though the team finished in last place in the AL West, A-Rod’s individual season was simply too impressive to be ignored, including a .600 slugging percentage and league-leading 47 home runs to go along with his stellar defense at shortstop.
Gehrig earned his second MVP honor in 1936, and first under the new voting format, when the first baseman led the league in runs scored (167), home runs (49), walks (130), on-base percentage (.478), and slugging percentage (.696), while adding 152 RBI. The 167 runs that he tallied that season landed him second on the single-season runs list, trailing only Babe Ruth’s 177 from 1921.
“Joltin’ Joe” won three MVPs over the course of his illustrious 13-year career, but perhaps none were more memorable than the award he took home in 1941, the season in which he accomplished one of the most unbreakable marks in sports: his MLB-record 56-game hitting streak. Complementing his consistency was his impressive power numbers, which included 30 home runs and a league-best 125 RBI.
In only his fourth year in the league, Bagwell belted 39 home runs, drove in a league-best 116 runs, and scored 104 times in only 110 games of a strike-shortened 1994 season. His robust .750 slugging percentage was tops in the NL, helping him to become one of only two unanimous National League MVP selections in the ‘90s.
Pujols placed in the top five in MVP votes in 10 of his first 11 seasons, including winning the award outright three separate times. His ability to hit for power and average led to his finishing in the top five of all three Triple Crown categories in each of his MVP seasons, including a unanimous selection in 2009 in which the hitting machine finished the year with 47 home runs, 135 RBI, and a .327 batting average.
Despite the Phillies missing a playoff berth, this slugging first baseman took home the Most Valuable Player award for his towering displays of power throughout a 2006 season that included a staggering 58 home runs - nine more than the second-place finisher - and 149 RBI - 12 ahead of the next best total. While not traditionally known as a high-average hitter, Howard's .313 batting average was good for ninth in the NL in '06.
Mantle’s first of three MVPs came in 1956 when the center fielder won the award in unanimous fashion. His 52 home runs led the AL by a whopping margin of 20, and his batting average (.353) and RBI total (130) were also tops in the league, giving the famed Yankee switch hitter the Triple Crown.
Mauer led the league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444), and slugging percentage (.587) by hefty margins en route to becoming only the sixth catcher in American League history to earn Most Valuable Player honors. He also performed at a high level defensively, earning a Gold Glove for his work behind the plate.
“The Iron Man” won his first of two MVPs in only his second full year in the MLB, leading the league in runs scored (121), hits (211), and doubles (47), while adding 27 home runs and 102 RBI and posting a .318 batting average. Ripken, Jr. started all 162 games at shortstop for a Baltimore Orioles team that would eventually win the 1983 World Series.
Although Red Sox legend Ted Williams did not win an MVP for his most famous season—the 1941 campaign in which he became the MLB’s last .400 hitter—he did receive the award twice later in his career. “Teddy Ballgame” won MVP honors in 1946, in his first season back on the field after a three-year absence for military service, and then again three years later.
Maris won his first of back-to-back MVP honors in 1960, but it was his second that ranks among the most unforgettable baseball seasons ever. In his historic 1961 season, the Yankees slugger broke what was the most hallowed record in sports: Babe Ruth’s single-season home run mark. Maris’ record of 61 home runs would go on to stand for 34 years.
Before he was a World Series-winning manager, Joe Torre was a star on the playing field. In his noteworthy 1971 season, the third baseman collected 230 hits, 24 home runs, and 137 RBI, and his .363 batting average was 20 points higher than that of the second-place finisher.
The star player on the Oakland Athletics’ 1973 World Series-winning squad, Jackson was a unanimous selection as the American League’s MVP. The legendary left-handed power hitter blasted 32 homers and drove in 117 runs to lead the league in both categories, while also earning the top spot with his 99 runs and .531 slugging percentage.
Jones is one of the rare MLB players to be recognized as the best in the league without having led the league in any major offensive category. His excellence across the board, however, was worthy of acknowledgment. His .319 batting average, 45 home runs, 110 RBI, and 25 steals helped his Atlanta Braves win 104 games and clinch the NL West championship in 1999.