Why Is The World Series MVP Award Named For Willie Mays?
The World Series Most Valuable Player Award is given to the best player that leads his team to victory during the World Series. The first time the award was handed out was in 1955. The World Series MVP award was renamed in 2017 to honor the legacy of baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays and remember his legendary catch in the 1954 World Series. Keep reading to learn more about Willie Mays and the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player Award
In 2017, the name of the award was changed to the Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player Award in order to honor the Hall-of-Famer. Willie Mays won the World Series in 1954 with the New York Giants, and his defensive play in center field is known as one of the best plays in baseball history. “The Catch” made by Mays in the eighth inning of Game 1 in the 1954 World Series went a long way towards the Giants' success in the series.
Willie Mays’ World Series Performance
Willie Mays had his own historic performance in the World Series that earned him the award title. The Hall-of-Famer played in four World Series during his career, and he won the 1954 title with the Giants. Although there was no award for the best player in the series at that time, Mays was still acknowledged as the main factor that drove New York to victory. Mays was 4-14 with a .444 on-base percentage and three runs batted in during the four-game sweep of Cleveland. The center fielder also made a notorious catch in the eighth inning of Game 1 while the contest was tied.
Willie Mays Career
Willie Mays is a Hall-of-Fame center fielder who played 23 seasons of professional baseball. In 1951, Mays won the Rookie of the Year Award and made his first World Series appearance with the Giants. The “Say Hey Kid” took the 1953 season off for military service, but he returned and won his first MVP in 1954. That was the same year Mays won his only World Series title with the Giants.
The center fielder continued to produce year in and year out, as Mays played in the All-Star Game every season starting in 1954. Willie Mays won his second MVP in 1965 as he led the league with a career-high 52 home runs as well as in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. Mays finished his career with 660 HRs, 1909 RBIs, and a .301 batting average. In 1979, Mays was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest ever to play the sport.
History And Winners Of The Award
Since the name of the award was changed in 2017, players have been awarded the Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player Award for their performance on baseball’s greatest stage. Most recently, Jeremy Peña was given the award in 2022 as the Houston Astros went home as champions. The shortstop became the first rookie to record hits in six straight World Series games. When the Braves won the title in 2021, Jorge Soler was named the Willie Mays World Series MVP. The outfielder hit three clutch home runs for Atlanta during the six-game series.
Here is a list of players to win the Willie Mays World Series MVP Award since it was renamed in 2017:
- 2017: George Springer
- 2018: Steve Pearce
- 2019: Stephen Strasburg
- 2020: Corey Seager
- 2021: Jorge Soler
- 2022: Jeremy Peña