Eric Karabell and Mark Simon brought up a fun topic on their Baseball Today podcast on Thursday: Who is the best active player never to receive an MVP vote? By an MVP vote, we mean not even one little 10th-place "I like this guy" vote. (For purposes of this discussion, we're only looking at position players.)
Nearly all good players at some point receive a vote or even have a season that places them in the top 10. Corey Hart had two points last year. Jeremy Affeldt received a 10th-place vote in 2009. So did Brad Hawpe. Nate McLouth had a 10th-place vote in 2008, Placido Polanco has twice received votes and Gary Matthews Jr. and A.J. Pierzynski each got a vote in 2006. You get the idea.
Thanks to the genius of Baseball-Reference.com, we spent a little time cross-checking this kind of stuff. Here are a few random nuggets:
The active leader in WAR (wins above replacement) without a vote is Jason Kendall. And I'm thinking he's not about to get one. Kendall was a terrific player with the Pirates in the late '90s (he hit .314/.402/.456 his first five seasons), but played on a bad team and his on-base skills were underappreciated in the barrage of home runs.
The No. 2 guy is ... Randy Winn. He did once make an All-Star team with the Devil Rays.
The best players without a top-10 overall finish in the voting are Johnny Damon and Mike Cameron. Damon has received votes four times, but his best finish was 13th in 2005. Damon still has a small chance to reach 3,000 hits (2,571). If that happens, his Hall of Fame vote will be interesting. Cameron had a terrific season in 2001, the year the Mariners won 116 games. B-R rates him the seventh-best player in the league, but he received just four points in the voting, fewer than Doug Mientkiewicz, who scored fewer runs, drove in fewer runs and played first base.
Omar Vizquel is a surefire Hall of Famer? He's received just three MVP points in his career, all in 1999.
You can see all the MVP voting history here at Baseball-Reference.