The Babe Ruth Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the best performance in the postseason. The award, created by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) in honor of Babe Ruth, was first awarded in 1949 to the MVP of the World Series, one year after Ruth's death. The award continued to be awarded exclusively for performances in the World Series until 2007, when the New York chapter of the BBWAA changed the award to cover the entire postseason. Though it precedes the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, which was not created until 1955, the Babe Ruth Award is considered less prestigious, as it is not sanctioned by MLB and is awarded several weeks after the World Series.
MLB expanded its postseason to include the League Championship Series (LCS) in 1969 and the League Division Series (LDS) in 1995. The LDS follows a best-of-five playoff format, while the LCS and World Series follow a best-of-seven playoff format. The most recent World Series champions are the St. Louis Cardinals, who won in 2011. David Freese, the most recent recipient of the Babe Ruth Award, also won the NLCS and World Series MVP awards in 2011. Ruth was a noted slugger who batted .326 with 15 home runs and three wins in three games started as a pitcher during World Series play. However, the Babe Ruth Award does not only go to sluggers or pitchers. Dick Green won the award for the 1974 World Series, in which he batted 0-for-13, but helped the Oakland Athletics win the series with his defense.
Joe Page of the New York Yankees was the first winner of the Babe Ruth Award. In all, members of the Yankees have won the award sixteen times. Luis Tiant is the only winner of the Babe Ruth Award to play for the World Series-losing team. Two players, Sandy Koufax and Jack Morris, have won the award twice.