Best Hitter + Best Pitcher = World Series Win?

How many times has this happened in the long history of the MLB?

If the Detroit Tigers win the World Series this season, they would have done it with the best hitter in baseball (Miguel Cabrera) and the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander).  I got to thinking about the rarity of this and called my fellow baseball historian, Tommy Pash. 

Close Calls:

The ’05 Cardinals had the best hitter in baseball with the ’05 N.L. MVP Albert Pujols and the ’05 N.L. Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter (21-5, 213k, 2.83), but the year they won the WS in 2006, Johan Santana was the games best pitcher.

The ’88 Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series with the game’s best pitcher in Cy Young Winner Orel Hershiser (23-8, 178k, 2.26) and had the N.L. MVP in Kirk Gibson, but Kirby Puckett and Jose Canseco were better hitters.

The ’63 Dodgers won the series with Sandy Koufax (25-5, 306k, 1.88) on the mound and Tommy Davis led the MLB with a .326 batting average, but he was far from the best hitter in a league with Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente.

Even Closer Calls:

The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks won the series with Cy Young winner Randy Johnson (21-6, 372k, 2.49) and with the bat of Luis Gonzalez (57 HR, 197 H, 142 RBI).  This one was right in the middle of the steroid era and LuGo didn’t win the MVP (Bonds with 73 HR won), but his year was one of the best in the modern era.  I just can’t give him the edge over Bonds or call him the best hitter in the league.

The ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers won the series with the games best pitcher in Don Newcombe (20-5, 160k, 3.28) and the 3-time N.L. MVP Roy Campanella (.318, 32, 107).  This one is as close as any, but though Campi was great the mid 50’s had Musial, Kaline and Mays in their prime.

After going through the record books since the 50’s and digging up my baseball knowledge I have not found one definitive instance where the team with the unquestioned best hitter and the game’s best pitcher were able to win the World Series.  Will this year be the first?


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