1972: Dick Allen, American League MVP
Dick Allen was a four-time All-Star when he was acquired by the Chicago White Sox in December 1971, giving up left-hander Tommy John (yes, the elbow surgery guy) and utility infielder Steve Huntz. This was at a time when there were always concerns when a player was changing leagues — different pitchers, different umpires make for a significant adjustment.
Apparently Allen did not get the memo on the whole adjustment problem, because he came within a whisker of a Triple Crown for the White Sox in 1972. Allen led the league with 37 home runs and 113 RBI in a season delayed for about a week because of a players’ strike, but finished third in batting average at .308 — 10 points behind Minnesota Twins star Rod Carew.
The White Sox, meanwhile, surprised the American League by going 87-67 and finishing just 5½ games back of the Oakland A’s in the AL West.
That earned Allen the MVP award. In 148 games, Allen hit .308/.420/.603 in 609 plate appearances. He had 28 doubles and five triples to go with the power numbers, stole 19 bases and drew 99 walks against 126 strikeouts. Allen was the AL leader in walks, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS+ (199).
All was an All-Star all three seasons he was in Chicago, despite missing more than half of the 1973 season with a broken leg. In December 1974, however, the White Sox traded Allen to the Atlanta Braves, eventually getting catcher Jim Essian in return despite Allen winning his second home run title in 1974 with 32.
In 348 games with the White Sox, Allen hit .307/.398/.589 in 1,422 plate appearances and had 85 homers and 242 RBI.