MLB.com recently ranked Rogers Hornby’s 1925 MVP season as the best all-time. Joe Morgan’s 1976 MVP season was great, but falls short of Hornsby’s.
MLB.com recently ranked Joe Morgan’s 1976 season as the second-best all time among major league second basemen. Morgan’s historic season was given honorable mention behind the 1925 MVP season of St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Rogers Hornsby. While some Cincinnati Reds fans may take offense, MLB.com got this one correct.
Joe Morgan is unquestionably one of the best players in Reds history. One could even make the argument that Morgan was the best second baseman to ever play the game. The Little General called the Queen City home from 1972 to 1979, racking up 1,155 hits, 220 doubles, 152 home runs and 612 RBIs.
Morgan’s 1976 season was one for the ages and probably the best MVP season in Reds history. Looking for their second consecutive World Series title, Morgan led the charge for the 1976 squad that finished 102-60. Morgan’s 9.6 wins above replacement led the team and was even better than that of Pete Rose (7.0 WAR), George Foster (5.9 WAR) and Johnny Bench (4.6 WAR).
Morgan was second on the team to Foster in home runs (27) and RBIs (111). The left-handed hitting Morgan led the team in stolen bases (60) and his batting average (.320) was behind only Rose and Ken Griffey. Morgan’s OPS of 1.020 roared past his teammates and helped him win his second consecutive NL MVP.
Now, with all that being said, as good as Morgan’s 1976 MVP season was, it pales in comparison to what Rogers Hornsby did in 1925. Hornsby took home the Triple Crown that season, hitting .403 with 39 home runs and 143 RBIs. You read that right, Hornsby hit .403.
If you want to take a look at the more analytical approach, Rogers Hornsby blows past Morgan in those categories as well. Hornsby had an OPS of 1.245 and 10.2 WAR. Hornsby’s OPS+ was 210 and believe it or not, his WAR (12.2) and OPS+ (222) the year before were even higher. That year, Hornsby finished second in the MVP voting to pitcher Dazzy Vance.
Like every other fan throughout Reds Country, I love and respect Joe Morgan. He was one of the best players of his generation, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a class act on and off the field. However, his MVP season of 1976 falls short to Rogers Hornsby’s 1925 performance in terms of second basemen who’ve won the MVP.