Koufax put together one of the most spectacular single-season efforts in baseball history in 1963, leading the league in wins (25), strikeouts (306), and ERA (1.88). Additionally, the lefty had 20 complete games, 11 shutouts, and no-hit the team's chief rival, the San Francisco Giants. Koufax's dominance on the mound helped the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 99-win season, which would ultimately culminate in a World Series victory.
In leading his Texas Rangers to an American League West championship, their first division title in over a decade, this skilled hitter took home the Most Valuable Player award, the first of his career. Hamilton's .359 batting average and .633 slugging percentage were both tops in the AL, and his 32 home runs and 100 RBI came in only 133 games, as he missed 29 games due to injury. The Rangers' left fielder ultimately led his team to a berth in the World Series with a memorable performance in the postseason.
One of the most impressive (and interesting) physical specimens to ever hit the diamond, Canseco was a unanimous MVP pick in 1988 after a record-setting year in which he became the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season. Canseco ended the season with eye-popping numbers across the board, with a .307 batting average, 42 home runs, 124 RBI, and 40 stolen bases, while leading the Oakland Athletics to a league-high 104 wins.
After three average seasons in the Twin Cities, Morneau’s offensive production skyrocketed in 2006, leading to his selection as the AL’s Most Valuable Player. Behind the slugging first baseman’s consistently solid numbers at the plate—.321 batting average, 34 home runs, 130 RBI—and clutch hitting, the Twins were able to come roaring back to pass the Detroit Tigers and win the AL Central in the final days of the season.
“The Big Hurt” caused plenty of pain for opposing pitchers during his career, especially during his back-to-back MVP campaigns in 1993-94. Thomas was a unanimous winner in ’93 after concluding the season with a .317 batting average, .426 on base-percentage, .607 slugging percentage, 41 home runs, and 128 RBI, and won the award again the following year as he was in the midst of a monster offensive season before it was cut short due to a strike.
Few could touch the heat from this Detroit Tigers’ right-hander in 2011, as Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (24), strikeouts (250), and ERA (2.40) on his way to becoming the first AL pitcher to win the MVP since 1992. The ace of a dominant Detroit pitching staff, Verlander tossed a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, and became the first AL pitcher in a decade to win 20 games before the end of August.
Campanella inserted himself into the discussion of the greatest catchers of all time with his three MVP awards in a five-year span from 1951-55. The second African American player to ever win the award, Campanella had arguably his best season in 1953, as the power-hitting catcher hit .312 with 41 home runs and led the league with 142 runs driven in, while throwing out 54% of attempted base stealers behind the plate.
Although Robinson’s success in being the first player to break baseball’s color barrier carries far more weight than any of his production-based accomplishments, Robinson’s incredible MVP season in 1949 is certainly an outstanding achievement in its own right. Robinson took his game to another level in ’49, leading the league in hitting (.342) and stolen bases (37), while posting career highs in RBI (124) and slugging percentage (.528) en route to leading his Brooklyn Dodgers to the NL pennant.
Although it was Aaron’s steady and consistent production that ultimately led him to become baseball’s original all-time home run king, his single-season accomplishments placed him in the top five of MVP voting eight different times, including in 1957, when he took home his one and only award. During that season, “Hammerin’ Hank” finished the year as the NL’s leader in home runs (44) and RBI (132) while posting an impressive .322 batting average, good for fourth in the league.
Ichiro managed to exceed the sky-high expectations surrounding his U.S. debut with an historic rookie campaign that saw him become only the second player in the history of the league to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Ichiro’s 242 hits were the most in the MLB since 1930, and his .350 batting average and 56 stolen bases both led the league in their respective categories. With Ichiro leading off, the Seattle Mariners tied the regular-season record for wins with 116.