Throughout the month of January, a cast of editors from theScore will share their rankings of the greatest teams, performances, pitchers, and position players in baseball history. This list focuses on the greatest MVP seasons (*: led AL/NL; major-league leaders in italics):

100-81 | 80-61 | 60-41 | 40-21 | 20-1

Voter list:

  • James Bisson, National Sports Editor
  • Brandon Wile, Senior MLB Editor
  • Jonah Birenbaum, MLB News Editor
  • Michael Bradburn, MLB News Editor
  • Jason Wilson, MLB News Editor
  • Bryan Mcwilliam, MLB News Editor
  • Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb, MLB News Editor
  • Dylan Perego, News Editor
  • Josh Wegman, News Editor

20. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (1993)


In his first season with the San Francisco Giants, Bonds got things off on the right foot, winning his third MVP award. He was so good during his career that a season featuring 46 home runs, 206 OPS+, and 365 total bases ranks just 20th on our all-time list. Bonds didn't win another MVP until 2001. -Mcwilliam

19. Tris Speaker, Boston Red Sox (1912)


Speaker's 10 home runs led the American League in 1912 - yes, that's correct - but it was his 53 doubles, 222 hits, and .464 on-base percentage that earned him his first MVP. 1912 wasn't even Speaker's best season: The outfielder hit .380/.469/.610 with 59 doubles and 130 RBIs as a 35-year-old in 1923. - Mcwilliam

18. Willie Mays, New York Giants (1954)


Say hey, Willie! In 1954, Mays arguably put together one of the top seasons in baseball history when he led the league in average (.345), slugging (.667), OPS (1.078), and triples (13). Some may consider his 1955 campaign - when he finished fourth in MVP voting - to be superior, but nothing tops what he did in 1965 (which we'll discuss in more detail later). - Mcwilliam

17. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (2003)


At 38 years old, Bonds earned the sixth MVP of his career - and his third straight - by blasting 45 home runs and recording an astounding 231 OPS+. Amazingly, a season that included 148 walks (61 of them intentional) and 292 total bases was actually Bonds' worst MVP campaign of the 2000s.- Mcwilliam

16. Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees (1936)


After a slight dip in performance in 1935, his first season without Babe Ruth hitting in front of him, Gehrig was born anew the following year - perhaps thanks to a precocious rookie named Joe DiMaggio. Gehrig matched his career high with 49 homers and joined Ruth as the only players in history with multiple seasons of at least 150 runs and 150 RBIs. -Birenbaum

15. Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants (1965)


After a decade of dominance with the Giants, the 34-year-old Mays became a multi-MVP winner with a season to remember in 1965. The Say Hey Kid proved his power had some longevity, as he reached the 50-homer mark for the first time in 10 seasons. It took an incredible performance to best Sandy Koufax's 26 wins and 382 strikeouts, but Mays was up to the task and cemented himself as one of the game's greatest competitors. -Perego

14. Rogers Hornsby, Chicago Cubs (1929)


Four years after winning his first MVP, Hornsby was at it again, putting together a remarkable season in which he scored 156 runs in 156 games and hit .380. He also recorded 229 hits, drove in 149 runs, had an overall OPS of 1.139, and accumulated 409 total bases. - Mcwilliam

13. Carl Yastrzemski, Boston Red Sox (1967)


Yastrzemski enjoyed one of the longest and most successful careers in MLB history, and the crown jewel is his magical 1967 campaign. The man they call Yaz captured the AL Triple Crown, a feat that no one repeated for 45 years. He also topped the charts in almost every notable offensive category and garnered all but one possible first-place vote. -Perego

12. Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees (1957)


Though not as bombastic as his 1956 campaign, Mantle followed up his first MVP trophy by reaching base in 51.2 percent of his plate appearances. A career-best 146 walks (compared to only 75 strikeouts) helped pave the way. Ted Williams may have won the batting title, but Mantle showcased a more diverse combination of speed and power. -Wilson

11. Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers (1911)


Here is the Georgia Peach at the absolute zenith of his powers: his first .400 season, career batting title No. 5 (of nine consecutive), a then-major-league record for hits in a single season, and since-broken AL single-season marks in runs scored, stolen bases, and consecutive games with a hit (40). Lest we forget, he also hit 47 doubles, 24 triples, and compiled 10.7 bWAR. -Sharkey-Gotlieb

10. Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals (1925)


Hornsby capped off a five-year stretch where he batted .402/.474/.690 with 144 homers by capturing his first of two MVP awards. His 1.245 OPS was the peak of his illustrious career, and stood as a National League record until Barry Bonds' rampage in the early '00s. Possessing a legendary eye at the plate, Hornsby drew 83 walks to 39 strikeouts. -Wilson

9. Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals (1948)


Three years after returning home from war, Musial's 11.1 WAR let all of baseball in 1948, and stood as the best of his career. He also raked in 46 doubles and 18 triples. -Wegman

8. Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics (1932)


Not only did Foxx win three MVPs over an impressive 20-year career in which he played three positions, he went absolutely ham in 1932 with 58 home runs. His 169 RBIs in 1932 represented the second-highest single-season total in his career (after 1938), but his 151 runs scored and 438 total bases were career highs. -Mcwilliam

7. Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox (1946)


A key part of the lore of Teddy Ballgame is the fact baseball fans lost three of his would-be peak seasons to military service during World War II, and nothing highlights that phenomenon like the MVP season that followed his 1943-45 absence. He won the Triple Crown in '42 and again in '47, making him one of only two players to do it twice. -Bradburn

6. Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees (1956)


Playing for a franchise that's produced more than its share of incredible performances, Mantle's ranks among the best of the bunch. The Mick won the Triple Crown in dominant fashion, leading the majors in all three categories while racking up 11.2 WAR according to Baseball Reference; the next-closest position player, teammate Yogi Berra, had 6.3. -Bisson

5. Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees (1927)


1927 will forever be remembered as the true breakout season for the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig. His 52 doubles, 147 RBIs, and .467 on-base percentage helped lead arguably the most dominant team in baseball history to a World Series title, and he cemented his place as one of the greatest Yankees ever. -Mcwilliam

4. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (2002)


One year after setting the MLB single-season record for home runs, Bonds was predictably pitched with extreme caution. He walked 198 times - 68 of them intentional - for a .582 OBP, and struck out just 47 times. -Wegman

3. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (2004)


Bonds collected his seventh and final MVP award in 2004, capping off four consecutive wins for the all-time home-run leader. At 40, Bonds was the oldest player to ever claim the award, and put up some jaw-dropping numbers for a player his age. He led the NL with a .362 average, and set the major-league record with a .609 on-base percentage. Bonds also hit 45 homers and walked a career-high 232 times. -Wile

2. Babe Ruth, New York Yankees (1923)


Ruth helped open Yankee Stadium with a bang. The legendary slugger set the franchise single-season record with a .393 average - which still stands - though he failed to win the batting title. Ruth did, however, lead the league in on-base percentage, slugging, home runs, RBIs, and walks. His 14.1 WAR is the highest single-season total in MLB history, according to Baseball Reference. -Wile

1. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (2001)


Whatever you might think of Bonds, his 2001 season ranks among the greatest of all time. Bonds shattered the single-season home-run record despite drawing 177 walks - contributing to an absurd 1.379 OPS that he would actually better the following season. He earned 30 of a possible 32 first-place votes in the greatest MVP year ever recorded. -- Bisson

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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