Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa had no business winning 1998 NL MVP

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images /

Chicago Cubs: People need to learn to trust the numbers

In what I personally consider to be critical offensive measures (on-base percentage, OPS+, WPA and WAR) – McGwire thoroughly outplayed Sosa in 1998. Despite the Cubs outfielder hitting .308 to McGwire’s .299, the St. Louis slugger got on base at a clip 93 points higher over the course of the season (.470 to .377) and narrowly missed topping Sosa’s slugging percentage by a full 100 points (.752 to .647).

If you look at WAR (which takes into account defense and baserunning, two things I’d hardly consider McGwire among the game’s best at, even in his prime), he still came out on top (7.5 to 6.5). WPA (win probability added) – perhaps the best measure of how clutch a player was – paints an even more dire picture for Sosa backers. McGwire clocks in at 9.6 – while Sosa comes in at 6.3.

I get it, I really do. These aren’t the baseball card numbers we all looked at back then (and some of us don’t even today). But that doesn’t change the fact that, by almost every statistical measure, Mark McGwire, not Sammy Sosa was the best player in the National League in 1998 – and it had nothing to do with the fact he hit four more home runs than his NL Central counterpart.

Next. Ranking the best Cubs threads of all-time. dark

It came down to a simple truth: he was a better all-around player.