Musial’s historic 1948 season nets him third NL MVP
But even without a Triple Crown, Musial was still the king of the National League.
On Dec. 2, 1948, Musial – the Cardinals’ slugging outfielder – was named the NL’s MVP in convincing fashion, outdistancing runner-up Johnny Sain of the Braves by 80 points and 13 first-place votes. The Cardinals finished six-and-a-half games behind the Braves in the NL pennant race that year, but Musial’s dominance undoubtedly impressed the voters of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, who named Musial the NL MVP for a record-setting third time.
“I thought I had a chance because I had a pretty good year,” Musial told the St. Louis Star & Times. “But it looked to me like Johnny Sain probably would get it.
“It’s quite a distinction for any player.”
The numbers, however, did not support that theory. Musial hit .402 in 64 night games in 1948.
Musial would not win a fourth NL MVP during his final 15 seasons in the big leagues – but no one could have come closer. From 1949-51, Musial finished second in the MVP vote in every season, finishing just 38 points behind Jackie Robinson in 1949. Musial finished in the runner-up position for the fourth time in 1957, nine points shy of Hank Aaron.
His 6.96 MVP award shares – a metric used by Baseball-Reference to measure total MVP votes – is second all-time behind Barry Bonds, who won seven NL MVPs.
Musial was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum