2. George Burns
George Burns, 1926, American League
In 1926, Babe Ruth hit 47 homers, drove in 150 runs and scored 139, drew 144 walks, and slugged .737 with a .516 on-base average, all league-leading figures. The Yankees won the pennant by three games over Cleveland, and the league’s Most Valuable Player was … Tioga George Burns, the Indians’ first baseman, who had 216 hits and 64 doubles but was by no means as valuable as Ruth. How could Burns win?
Mostly because the voting rules for the award, reintroduced in 1922 after an eight-year hiatus, declared that a player could only win the award once in his career, and Ruth had won in 1923. After a few more questionable results, baseball discontinued the award in 1930. It was reestablished in 1931 under the jurisdiction of the Baseball Writers of America, with no repeat restrictions.