Frank and Mookie
I thought I’d already written about Frank Robinson and his unique talent of having won an MVP in both the NL and the AL when Mookie was traded for by the Dodgers but I couldn’t find anything so here we go.
HOF Frank Robinson won his first MVP while with the Reds in 1961 at the age of 25. Even among some of the greatest outfielders to ever grace our game in Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson stood hand in hand with all three of them. By the winter of 1965 his star had dimmed just a bit and he was traded at the age of 30 to the Orioles and when the Red’s GM was asked why they would trade a talent like Frank Robinson he famously said that “Frank was an old 30”. Famous last words. Frank Robinson destroyed the AL in 1966, winning the MVP, and the Triple Crown. Eventually he would also lead the Orioles to a World Championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers beating the unbeatable October duo of Koufax/Drysdale. It was basically my first remembrances of baseball, listening to the 1966 World Series with family on Armed Services Radio. I knew nothing about baseball yet, but I already hated Frank Robinson. The thing is Frank Robinson became the first baseball player to win an MVP in both leagues which was hard to do before Free Agency. Rarely was a player with his skills traded when the team owned their rights forever.
Baseball is a different beast in 2020. Players in their prime routinely leave one team for another but 54 years after Frank Robinson became the only player to win an MVP in both leagues, he is still the only one. The late Frank Robinson may not hold that distinction for long.
Mookie Betts won the AL MVP in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox. also at the of 25. Last winter the 27-year-old Mookie was traded to the Dodgers and during the summer signed a historic contract making him a Dodger for the next twelve years. It was reasonable to assume that Mookie Betts might win a NL MVP sometime in the next five years since he’s still in his prime, but Dodger fans may not have to wait that long. Mookie had an MVP type season in 2020. He may not win it, but he’ll certainly be in the top three. Frank may keep the distinction of being the only player to win an MVP in both leagues for another year, but for the next few years, Mookie has a good a shot as anyone of being the next player to accomplish this very rare feat.
Dodger fans would get to see Frank Robinson for themselves in 1972 when he was traded to the Dodger but he was already 36. Mookie Betts will have been a Dodger for nine years by the time he is 36, and I can tell you as a 55 year Dodger fan, at no time have the LAD had a talent like Mookie Betts locked up for ages 27 – 36. He may never win another MVP but I think it is an easy bet, he’ll be a top five MVP for at least 5 of the next 10 years.
I hope Mookie does get that NL MVP, because just like Frank Robinson, Mookie Betts does everything exceptionally well. Frank Robinson was one of the most well rounded players of his generation, and Mookie Betts is made of the same cloth even if Mookie is a bit diminutive when physically compared to Frank. Frank was still alive when Mookie won his 2018 MVP and I bet he saw a lot of himself in that kid.
Oh, I think we need to say once again. Frank Robinson won a World Championship the first year he played for the Orioles after being traded by the Reds. The Red Sox traded Mookie, a different shade of Red, but still a Red was involved.
Just another reason why the Dodgers will be the 2020 World Champions