The very first-ever MVP winner also played in a Pirate uniform. Frank Schulte played over 1500 games with the Chicago Cubs, winning the MVP in 1911 and taking home two World Series rings. Schulte’s first MVP award was definitely a deserving one at that too.
During that season of the outfielder’s career, Schulte batted .300/.384/.534 with a 156 OPS+ and 149 wRC+. Schulte led the National League in OPS+, total home runs with 21 and ranked third in wRC+. Schulte’sSchulte’s 21 home runs today may not be too impressive, but up to this point in Major League Baseball history, he was one of just seven players to reach the 20 home run milestone. Honus Wagner was also a highly deserving candidate, but it could have gone either way in this era in baseball.
Schulte would make his way to Pittsburgh in the 1916 season. He appeared in the subsequent 1917 season but overall did not perform like the MVP he was in 1911. He only collected 311 plate appearances, batting .239/.308/.304 without a single home run and having an 87 OPS+. After his tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he would go on to play with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Senators.
While Schulte may not be in the Hall of Fame or a top player in the sport’s history, he still has the distinction of being the first player ever to receive an MVP award in Major League Baseball. He was a power hitter before power hitting became a thing, and 20 home runs in this era of baseball essentially made him the 1911’s Aaron Judge.