We hit the midpoint of the 1970s today on MLB Monday, and that means the Big Red Machine took over the World Series mantle from the Swingin’ A’s. Ironic they played in the 1972 World Series, and an Oakland win in Game 7 perhaps changed the fortunes of the decade for both franchises. History is replete with turning points, right?
Here’s to reading about another one—the 1975 season—right now … as far as our columns are concerned!
1975 AL MVP: Fred Lynn (original, confirmed)
The A’s won the AL West for the fifth-straight season, as only the Kansas City Royals also topped .500 in the division. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox won the AL East by 4.5 games over the Baltimore Orioles, with the Yankees being the only other team to finish with more wins than losses. That’s an uneven distribution in a 12-team league, for sure.
We have six initial candidates for the MVP, though: Minnesota Twins second baseman Rod Carew (7.9 WAR); Boston center fielder Fred Lynn (7.4); Baltimore 2B Bobby Grich (7.3); Royals first baseman John Mayberry (7.2); Texas Rangers shortstop Toby Harrah (7.1); and Oakland right fielder Reggie Jackson (6.9). By the way, we took away Reggie’s 1973 AL MVP and gave it to Grich, who repeated last year, too.
Lynn won the vote this time around, however. Will he keep the hardware? We don’t deny Carew’s greatness, but the Twins finished 20.5 games out of first place. Lynn and Grich still are in the hunt, while Mayberry is, too. The Rangers finished 19 games behind Oakland, so Harrah falls behind the wayside, while Reggie can hang for a bit.
Looking closer now, Mayberry was a negative defender (-0.1 dWAR), though, so it’s down to the key trio:
- Lynn: AL-best 103 runs, 47 doubles, .566 SLG, .967 OPS
- Grich: 8th in MLB dWAR (2.5), 107 BBs, 13 HRs, 57 RBI, 14 SBs
- Jackson: AL-best 36 HRs, along with 107 RBI, 17 SBs, and .840 OPS
Without Lynn, the Red Sox don’t win the AL East over Baltimore, and he has the best value, anyway. He provided good defense (0.9 dWAR) at a key position on the field, and there’s really no good argument for Grich or Reggie here, in comparison. Sure, maybe Oakland doesn’t win the AL West without Reggie, but it’s closer than it is for Lynn and Boston. We will confirm the voter’s choice here.
1975 NL MVP: Joe Morgan (original, confirmed)
Cincinnati Reds 2B Joe Morgan won the MVP vote after leading MLB with 11.0 WAR, and his team won the NL West by 20 games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. If there was another worthy candidate—and Morgan’s WAR wasn’t so historic, reaching into double digits—we might actually look into this deeper, but alas, no. We confirm this vote, readily.
Here are his traditional numbers, for the record: 107 R, 17 HRs, 94 RBI, 67 SBs, 132 BBs, .327 average, .466 SLG, .508 SLG, and a .974 OPS. He led the league in walks, SLG, and OPS. And his defense? 2.0 dWAR at age 31. For the record, this is the third time in four seasons we have given this award to Morgan. That’s impressive. He may have been an arrogant ass in the TV booth, but he was a god on the field of play in his prime.
1975 AL Cy Young: Jim Palmer (original, confirmed)
The five-best pitchers in the league were Baltimore ace Jim Palmer (8.4), Chicago White Sox closer Rich Gossage (8.2), New York Yankees star Catfish Hunter (8.1), White Sox southpaw Jim Kaat (7.7), and California Angels fireballer Frank Tanana (7.4). Clearly, there was no dearth of good pitching in the junior circuit. Palmer won our 1970 award (although we stripped him of his 1973 one), and Hunter won this award last season with the A’s.
If Catfish had still been with the A’s in 1975, he would have won this award. But the Yankees finished 7.5 games behind Baltimore, while the White Sox won just 75 times. The Angels won a mere 72 times, so Palmer gets to keep this award, almost by default, really. His traditional numbers: 23 wins, 2.09 ERA, 10 shutouts, and 193 Ks. The first three marks led the AL, by the way.
1975 NL Cy Young: Tom Seaver (original, confirmed)
Did we mention the Pittsburgh Pirates won the NL East? No, because none of their players registered on our major-awards radar. The top-four pitchers in the senior circuit were New York Mets ace Tom Seaver (7.8), San Diego Padres southpaw Randy Jones (7.5), San Francisco Giants rookie John Montefusco (6.8), and Dodgers icon Andy Messersmith (6.5).
With the Giants and the Padres finishing under .500 and the Dodgers ending up 20 games behind the Reds, this award go to Seaver—who won the vote—by default, as the Mets finished above .500 and only 10.5 games behind the Pirates. This is Tom Terrific’s third NL Cy from us (1971, 1973), as he topped the league with 22 wins and 243 Ks, to go along with his 2.38 ERA and 1.088 WHIP.
1975 AL ROTY: Fred Lynn (original, confirmed)
This is easy enough, as Lynn topped all other AL rookies by 4.4 WAR. In fact, his teammate Jim Rice (3.0) was the next on the rookie list—and the only other first-year player to earn votes from the media for this award. This is also the second time in four years we gave both the AL MVP and ROTY awards to the same player (Carlton Fisk, 1972).
1975 NL ROTY: John Montefusco (original, confirmed)
The Count topped all the other first-year guys in NL by 3.1 WAR himself, as Montréal Expos catcher Gary Carter (3.3 WAR) was next in line. The Expos won 5 fewer games than the Giants did, so this award gets confirmed readily. Montefusco posted a 15-9 record with a 2.88 ERA, by the way, in 243 2/3 IP.
And yes, this is the first time ever we have confirmed all six vote winners on MLB Monday. Shocking! The closest we’ve ever come to this since starting the 6-award process in 1947 was back in 1957, 1964, and 1968, when we confirmed four winners each time. What a year, eh?