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Lenny Dykstra thinks he was the NL MVP in 1993, not Barry Bonds

Apr 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

Lenny Dykstra Lenny Dykstra

Former Phillies and Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra joined Mike Missanelli on ESPN’s 97.5 The Fanatic on Friday evening. The interview was fascinating, as Dykstra has never been one to hold back. He criticized current Phillies center fielder Ben Revere for his low on-base percentage, talked about his steroid use, the financial mistakes he made in his post-baseball career, and suggested that the Phillies should trade for his son Cutter Dykstra, currently in the Nationals’ minor league system.

This is perhaps the most interesting thing he said in the interview, however — at least to me:

1993 was, of course, the year the Phillies shocked the nation and matched up in the World Series against the Blue Jays. Dykstra finished second in NL MVP voting to Barry Bonds. That season, Dykstra slashed .305/.420/.482 with 19 home runs, 66 RBI, and 37 stolen bases. He led the league in walks with 129, in hits with 194, and in runs with 143. Baseball Reference credits him with an impressive 6.5 Wins Above Replacement.

As good as Dykstra was that season, however, Bonds was way better. The Giants outfielder slashed .336/.458/.677  with a league-leading 46 home runs, 123 RBI, and stole 29 bases as well. Bonds led the league in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and finished with 9.9 WAR. Bonds was the most valuable position player in the National League in 1993. The Giants won 103 games but finished second in the NL West to the Braves, who won 104.

Even aside from Bonds, though, there was a debate between Dykstra and the rest of the field. Baseball Reference also listed Mike Piazza at 7.0 WAR, Ron Gant with 6.5, Robbie Thompson with 6.3, and Jay Bell with 6.2. All worth at least a conversation in the MVP talks, though they all paled in comparison to Bonds.

Sorry, Lenny, you weren’t the National League’s most valuable player in 1993.

  1. pjmitch - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    And boy, if he had been the MVP, his life would be so different now. Beautiful wife and kids. White picket fence with a little dog running around. Heck, he would probably even be a church Elder or something.

    • mmeyer3387 - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:21 PM

      I know that a lot of mlb fans are not big on Barry Bonds. However, they both more than likely did steroids and they both lied about being users. That being said, of the two, Bonds is much easier to like for several reasons. First, Bonds earned his MVP in 93. He was clearly a better all around player, never in his career was he a platoon player. Second, Bonds was a better defensive player. Bonds never hurt or stole from other people. Dystra cheated people out of investments, some were hurt badly economically and may never make up the loses from Dykstra con. Third, love or hate him, Bonds was never thief that was capable of stealing anything from cars to money. Fourth, Bonds worst crime was lying about using PED’s, I think over the next 5-10 years, we will find out that a lot of others lied about PED’s.Still, neither player were saints, Bonds is more likeable in my opinion.

      • chew1985 - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        Physical evidence strongly suggests Bonds was not cheating with steroids in 1993. Dykstra, with his Popeye arms, obviously was.

      • jrob23 - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:45 AM

        “Physical evidence strongly suggests Bonds was not cheating with steroids in 1993. Dykstra, with his Popeye arms, obviously was.”

        Oh please. When are you guys going to get it? When pretty much the whole Oakland As team showed the sport what juicing could do for you in mid to late 80s they all started doing it. There was nothing stopping them. The only difference between the early 90s and late 90s early 00s was that HGH was added to that cocktail. That is why head sizes increased and guys ballooned up. Some guys I suspect may have only done a little (most players) and some went all out (Bonds, McGwire, Sosa) but they all did it. Pitchers too.

        Now that steroids are being tested for, we are seeing not only power numbers down and Ks up (because they are trying to swing harder to make up or their lack of strength) but they aren’t healing as well which is leading to injuries. Please tell me you can see the correlation between the two. That less PED is resulting in less power and more injuries. All the empirical evidence is proving this. This is what a 162 game season looks like without steroids.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:00 AM

        The shift away from offense didn’t occur until amphetamine testing and penalties kicked in a couple years after steroid testing. But don’t let facts get in the way of your narrative.

      • anxovies - Apr 27, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Kevin S.: The effects of steroids on muscles and healing are well-established in medicine. Whether or not amphetamines give an athlete a significant edge is debatable, especially in baseball, which demands steady nerves and a great deal of concentration. Hitting that little round ball is a lot different than a marathon session of housecleaning or staying up all night to study for an exam (which, from experience from my college days, usually doesn’t help much).

  2. commonsenseisnotcmonman - Apr 25, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    As a 13 year old in 1993, the most I remember about Lenny that year is the massive amount of chew that was put in and spat out of his mouth.

  3. aceshigh11 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Dykstra is mentally ill.

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      Twas all the time he spent in Philly… that’ll do it to ya…

      • genericcommenter - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        It’s just not laid back like New York.

  4. areyesrn - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    if the current playoff system was in existence back then, the Giants probably would have won the World Series that year…but as a Phillies fan, I was happy and shocked that they didn’t make it…

  5. schmedley69 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    He said a lot more interesting things in his interview than that.

    • yahmule - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      Craig finds things that fit his agenda most interesting.

      • yahmule - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:24 PM

        Wait, you’re not Craig.

  6. wingslax35 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    It’s the Most VALUABLE, not best player. Who made the playoffs? And, how was that the most interesting thing said????? He spot on said how he got the PEDs.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      The Giants won 103 games (more than the Phillies) and missed the playoffs anyway. If the Braves had been in the East (which, you know …), then the Phillies miss the playoffs and the Giants go.

      I mean, it’s not like he was playing for a last-place team.


    • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      Please explain how a worse player is more valuable than someone better than him.

      • nbjays - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:00 AM

        I dunno… maybe ask the BBWAA for the past couple of years.


  7. ncphilliesguy - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    The MVP is not equal to the player with the highest WAR. If you watched baseball in 1993, you know that Dykstra was pretty darn valuable. The Phils were in last place in 92, and Lenny turned that s around. He may have taken steroids and turned crazy, but he was a heck of a ball player.

    • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:59 PM

      Yes, Dykstra had a very good year. No one is arguing otherwise. What they are arguing is that Barry Bonds, who hit 46 HR, drove in 123, hit .336/.458/.677 with a 206 OPS+ and 29 stolen bases was much, much better. In fact, Bonds had the best season MLB had seen in a long time. In the preceding decade, who had better seasons? Ripken’s 91 probably…other than that, from 1983 to 1993, I would take Bonds season over anyone else’s.

      Basically the only thing Dykstra did better than Bonds was steal slightly more bases. How was he more valuable?

  8. phillyphannnn83 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    Doesn’t the concept of WAR just mean that you have a good to great starter with a crappy backup?

    • kindasporty - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:06 PM

      No, the idea is that it compares a player to a hypothetical average player off the street. In other words, if a team were to decide to replace a guy on the roster, what kind of player on average should they expect to find. A player’s WAR is how much better a player is than that guy.

  9. phillyphannnn83 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    No, yamule, he’s just rubbing off on Baer.

  10. learysdisciples - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    WAR, what is it good for?

    • chinahand11 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      Absolutely nothing! (Whoa-oh-oh say it again…)

    • mangoman1966 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      Sorry. Didn’t see your post. Good song though.

    • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:00 PM

      WAR, what is it good for?

      Evaluating the performance of baseball players.

      Does that answer your question?

  11. mpzz - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    He was a scrappy player, but it amazes me that ANYONE would go to this buffoon for financial advice.

  12. scendali - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    mike missanelli is a tool

  13. riotpunch26 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Was too

  14. DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    My screen name not withstanding – I am not a homer for this post. Ever since 198, I have had nothing good to say about Lenny, and it only gets worse. That said…..

    First and foremost, to hell with WAR. Come on, if you have to quote that, you already lost the debate. Second, I said in 1993 that while perhaps Bonds deserved the MVP, the season Dykstra had was quite unique. Let us not forget, once upon a time, 19 HR’s was a lot (yea, yea….Lenny was juiced at the time…so was Bonds). But think about it – Dykstra led the league in hits AND walks. How often do you see that? And what impact did that have on the team?

    Bottom line, whatever the situation called for that season (patient AB, aggressive AB, single, rope an extra base hit), Lenny did it that year. Did Bonds deserve the MVP? Sure. But so did Lenny.

    So to this comment that he deserved the MVP, I would not say he is right. I also would not say he is wrong

    • clydeserra - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      I think it is pretty well accepted that bonds was not juiced until after 1997

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        Yes, he has been quite forthcoming about his juicing, hasn’t he?

        His Home Runs jumped dramatically that year – 46 when his career high was 34. New park? Steroids? Who knows

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      I like how you just completely discredited WAR without actually saying anything to discredit it. You just offhandedly suggested that everyone does/should accept that it’s stupid.

      “To hell with laws. If you want to say my client ‘murdered’ some guy well you’ve already lost. I rest my case.” -Best lawyer ever.

      Also, I like that you then went on to point out that at the time 19 HRs was a lot. Which was, of course, 27 fewer than Bonds had.

      And then for good measure added the coupling of having the most walks and hits like that is something amazing, when what’s really amazing is that despite having the most walks and hits in the same season he didn’t even lead the league in OBP. Well how on earth could it be that he finished 3rd in OBP (38 points lower than Bonds) while leading in those two categories? Oh….because he had 57 more plate appearances than the guy in second. He came to bat almost 7.5% more than anyone else. And more than 8.5% more than Bonds.

      TL:DNR version: Your argument is really dumb.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:37 PM

        Seriously, it is really impressive to lead the league in hits and finish 15th in Batting Average.

        I am not doing the research but I am going to guess that it is probably the only time that has ever happened.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        In fact, given the same number of at bats, one could expect such studs as Bernard Gilkey, Jeff Blauser and Charlie Hayes to have also lead the league in the all important hits category.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM

        No idea why I’m so obsessed with this….

        But at the time, 773 Plate Appearances was the all time major league record, which stood for 14 season.

        You know who else shows up a lot on the season-by-season Plate Appearances list? Pete Rose. Who had the most hits of all time while recording the 171st best Batting Average of all time.

        It’s almost like the more times you get to bat, the more opportunities you have to get on base. I wonder if an individual can effect the amount of plate appearances they have or if that might be a product of the team he plays for.


      • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:51 PM

        Seriously, it is really impressive to lead the league in hits and finish 15th in Batting Average.

        I am not doing the research but I am going to guess that it is probably the only time that has ever happened.

        But I will!

        Jimmy Rollins came close to topping that in 2007, he finished 4 hits shy of the lead league and ranked 20th in BA.

        — In 2006, Juan Pierre lead the league with 204 hits and ranked 26th in batting average
        — In 1995, hits leader Lance Johnson ranked 21st in BA

        Alright… I made it back as far as 1990 before succumbing to boredom.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:52 AM

        That’s funny because the year Jimmy Rollins did that was the year he broke Lenny’s PA record.

        Those are two awesome finds and I hate that I am now going to spend a bunch of time analyzing Juan Pierre’s 2006 season and Lance Johnson’s 1995 season just in case some dumdum suggests they deserved recognition for it.

        (Prediction….when I see where Pierre ranked in OBP I am going to actually laugh out loud)

      • whatacrocker - Apr 26, 2014 at 3:25 AM

        Here is how to calculate Juan Pierre’s OBP:

        1. Take his batting average
        2. Multiply by 1.0
        3. Done!

        The same technique works for calculating Juan Pierre’s SLG…

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:29 AM

        Uhhhh…..calm down, dude. These are just opinions

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        P.S. – hour and a half? I really touched a nerve here :)

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Do you not get notifications on your WordPress bar that someone has responded to your comment?

  15. keltictim - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    Is there any solid math behind WAR? I know I’m kinda an anti saber guy (Dunder Mifflin was just fine without them) but how can you possibly know what the star is really going to do versus the imaginary hypothetical player? Is it strictly based on. The stars averages against the average numbers of all if baseball?

    • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      Here’s an idea: Go through a couple years of baseball stats. Add up total WAR and Pitchers WAR for each team. Now, do those ranks look a lot like like the standings? Then there is probably some pretty solid math behind it then.

      How can you possibly know what a star will do vs an imaginary hypothetical player? Well, you find the basis of it first. It’s not like the number is pulled straight from someone’s a**. Want to set a baseline for replacement level catchers? Well, the original data can come from finding the statistics for all catchers who were not starters Basically replacement level is the average of all backup catchers.

      Remember, just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it stupid.

      • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:28 PM

        Go through a couple years of baseball stats. Add up total WAR and Pitchers WAR for each team. Now, do those ranks look a lot like like the standings? Then there is probably some pretty solid math behind it then.

        I’ll do it for you.

        2013 NL Standings
        EAST real
        1. Braves
        2. Nationals
        3. Mets
        4. Phillies
        5. Marlins

        EAST WAR
        1. Braves
        2. Nationals
        3. Mets
        4. Marlins
        5. Phillies

        Central REAL
        1. Cardinals
        2. Pirates
        3. Reds
        4. Brewers
        5. Cubs

        Central WAR
        1. Cardinals
        2. Pirates
        3. Reds
        4. Brewers
        5. Cubs

        West REAL
        1. Dodgers
        2. Diamondbacks
        3. Padres
        4. Giants
        5. Rockies

        West WAR
        1. Dodgers
        2. Diamondbacks
        3. Rockies
        4. Padres
        5. Giants

        Where did WAR mess up here?
        1. WAR undervalued the Phillies by a lot, as the Marlins were 9 games worse
        2. WAR had the west mixed up, those three teams finished within 2 games of each other

        Overall, that’s a pretty strong correlation of WAR to actual standings. More than any other single stat…which is the entire point of WAR. An imperfect, but pretty good all-encompassing statistic!

    • cktai - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:20 AM

      You can check it out for yourself, the calculation methods are all open to the public:

      If you can’t bother with reading it all, then just let me summarize by saying: yes there is a lot of solid math behind WAR. You can fairly easily compare players with an imaginary hypothetical players because everything you do on a baseball field is monitored and translated to stats. No it is based on evaluations of how runs are scored in baseball, and adding all the positive things a player does (like get a hit, steal a base, catch a ball etc.), substracting all the negative things (like making an out, dropping the ball etc.) compared to the hypothetical replacement player.

  16. doctorofsmuganomics - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    another thread that basically boils down to WAR. WAR, Look ate me, war war war”

    I hate baseball sometimes

    • mangoman1966 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      War. What is it good for. Absolutely nothing.

  17. officialgame - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    The only thing debatable is who took more roids that year. The only thing Lenny ever lifted was a pack of cigarets yet he came to Spring training looking like Hulk Hogan.

    • cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      The easy answer to that is Dykstra, as it is pretty well documented that Barry Bonds started using steroids after the 1998 season.

  18. greymares - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    When I start thinking of things Lenny Dykstra should have been M.V.P. is pretty far down the list.

  19. tfbuckfutter - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    Although this comment is silly, it does raise a very important debate…..

    Which sentence do you look forward to reading the rest of:

    Lenny Dykstra thinks…..


    Jon Papelbon thinks…..


  20. cohnjusack - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Alright, there is a staggering amount of intellectual dishonesty going on here by people who seem to think Dykstra even remotely had a claim to the 1993 MVP. I won’t use WAR at all, because frankly the case for Bonds is patently obvious without it anyway.

    143 runs, 194 Hits, 44 2B, 6 3B, 19 HR, 66 RBI, .305/.420/.482, 144 OPS+, 37 SB

    129 Runs, 186 Hits, 38 2B, 4 3B, 46 HR, 123 RBI, .336/.458/.677, 205 OPS+ 29 SB

    So, Dykstra scored slightly more runs with slightly more steals. Bonds topped him in homers by 27 and OPS by 234 points. His team also won 6 more games and only missed the playoffs due to being caught up in one of the most amazing divisional races in baseball history, the likes of we’ll never see again (damn you Wild Card!). No rational baseball fan can look at that and claim Dykstra was more valuable. Bonds was just as good to waaaay better at everything.

  21. officialgame - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    Less WAR more watch.

  22. bygd1 - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    When did this jerk get out of prison, let’s see in early 90’s I saw this class act making fun of a handicapped child in spring training

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