Often the most valuable collectibles are the ones that most other people never thought to pick up. The rarity makes them valuable, and if you are willing to think outside the box you just might end with with a piece that appreciates greatly in value as time goes by. One place to look for just such items is on the list of award winners over the last 30 years in baseball history. These are players that won either an MVP or Cy Young award despite not having the traditionally great career that goes along with those accomplishments. Consider the following four award winners from the last thirty years as good candidates to add to your collection.
1989 NL MVP – Kevin Mitchell – San Francisco Giants
The career of Kevin Mitchell is certainly nothing to sneeze at. He posted a total OPS of .880 from 1984 through 1998. He hit 234 home runs in the major leagues, and got on base at an impressive .360 clip. However, as far as MVP winners go, Mitchell is a step below what you might expect. He only made two all-star games in a 14 year career, those coming in 1989 and 1990.
2003 NL Cy Young – Eric Gagne – Los Angeles Dodgers
Closers are a notoriously fickle group – seemingly great one year and lousy the next. Eric Gagne had a longer run of performance than that, putting up three outstanding years as the Dodgers closer where he recorded 52, 55, and 45 saves respectively. However, he would only end up pitching 643 innings in his entire career and would be followed by steroid rumors after his physique dramatically changed from one season to the next. Those who win the Cy Young are often Hall of Fame contenders when they finish their careers, but such is not the case for Gagne who struggled to catch on anywhere around the league after his 2004 season with the Dodgers.
1990 AL Cy Young – Bob Welch – Oakland Athletics
Bob Welch only made two All-Star teams during a productive 17 year career, but one of those years was 1990 and he pulled down a Cy Young award to go with it. Welch had a career ERA of 3.47, which was good but not great in a time of lower scoring games. He was, however, a workhorse, posting a career total of more than 3,000 innings pitched. Considering other Cy Young winners from that time include Roger Clemens, Dennis Eckersley, Bret Saberhagen, and Greg Maddux, Welch doesn’t really fit in with his peers for this award.
2012 NL Cy Young – R.A. Dickey – New York Mets
There may be no more unlikely Cy Young candidate than Dickey, whose career was off track and saw him completely out of baseball in 2007. He resorted to the knuckle ball and found incredible success with the Mets, posting a 2.73 ERA in 2012 and being named the Cy Young award winner. This is his only All Star season to date, and he is currently suffering through the 2013 year with an ERA near 4.50. There is a high likelihood that 2012 will be the only great season in the career of R.A. Dickey, but it is one that many people will never forget.