On MLB Monday this time out, we look at the final season of the Scourge of San Francisco. It’s a shame Bud Selig let one of the all-time, hallowed records be broken by the biggest cheater the sport has ever seen, but justice has been served, really, in the end. We’re happy about that, for sure.
Let’s get on with the awards analysis!
2007 AL MVP: Álex Rodríguez (original), Curtis Granderson (revised)
We have kind of a mess here, as New York Yankees third baseman Álex Rodríguez (9.4 WAR) led all MLB players in value to win the vote at the time, but we know he’s a cheater, so he’s out. The three remaining candidates for this award are Detroit Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson (7.6), Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordóñez (7.3), Tampa Bay Devil Rays first baseman Carlos Peña (7.2).
We’re also not considering Yankees second baseman Robinson Canó (6.7), because of his multiple offenses and suspensions for PED use. So, with both Detroit outfielders canceling each other out, can we really give this nod to Peña, the Moneyball sacrificial lamb? Well, Tampa Bay was a year away from breaking out as the franchise we know today, so with just 66 victories, Peña can’t win this trophy.
So, in this rare moment, we have to look at the two teammates, even though the Tigers missed the postseason by 6 games with 88 wins: Granderson wins the award from us, since Ordóñez was a negative defender (-0.5 dWAR). We would like to point out that we have not confirmed an AL MVP vote winner since the 1997 season now, which is pretty ridiculous in terms of sorting through the trash.
Granderson earned the honor by hitting .302 with 23 triples (AL best), 23 HRs, 74 RBI, 26 SBs (only got caught stealing once), a .913 OPS—all while posting 1.8 dWAR at one of the most important positions on the diamond. That’s pretty amazing, considering he was only 26 years old at the time. Granderson finished tenth in the voting at the time, by the way, which is a serious undervaluing of his awesomeness.
2007 NL MVP: Jimmy Rollins (original), Troy Tulowitzki (revised)
With 6.1 WAR, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins won the NL MVP vote, but we’re not sure he deserved it. The five best players in the senior circuit were actually St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (8.7), New York Mets 3B David Wright (8.3), Phillies 2B Chase Utley (7.8), Atlanta Braves 3B Chipper Jones (7.6), and Colorado Rockies rookie SS Troy Tulowitzki (6.8).
Is it fair to Utley that we cancel out both teammates? We sort of have to. Meanwhile, the Cards finished under .500, while the Mets won 88 games and missed the postseason by 1 game (the Phils won 89 games to take the NL East). Atlanta won 84 games to finish 4 games behind New York, while the Rockies won 90 games to claim the wild-card spot.
Strangely, this looks like Tulo’s award to claim, as the San Diego Padres won 89 games to finish 1 game behind Colorado in that chase for the wild-card spot. Not bad for a rookie, eh? This was that season where the Rox won 13 of their last 14 games to tie for the wild-card slot with the Padres, before winning the one-game playoff to end the regular season.
The Colorado rookie posted 3.9 dWAR (!) to lead the majors in defensive value, and he also added 24 HRs, 99 RBI, and an .838 OPS on offense. How in the heck he only finished eighteenth in the MVP voting is a mystery, in addition to his NL ROTY vote slight (see below). Absolutely ridiculous, in truth, so we are righting this wrong forever now.
2007 AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia (original), John Lackey (revised)
We have six good candidates for this award, with Cleveland Indians ace CC Sabathia (6.3 WAR) claiming the award vote at the time. Also in the hunt are Boston Red Sox star Josh Beckett (6.5), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim workhorse John Lackey (6.3), Chicago White Sox journeyman Javier Vázquez (6.2), Cleveland phenom Fausto Carmona (6.2), and White Sox veteran Mark Buehrle (6.1).
This is really close, with half a win’s value separating the six pitchers. But we have two sets of teammates here, so they cancel each other out, leaving just Beckett and Lackey to consider, really. By the way, Carmona was later revealed to really be Roberto Hernández. Oh, the drama! But we digress: The Red Sox won the AL East by 2 games over the Yankees, and they had an 8-game playoff cushion, really.
The Angels, meanwhile, won the AL West by 6 games over the Seattle Mariners, and that was their playoff cushion as well. So with minimal value separating Beckett and Lackey on the surface, we give this hardware to Lackey for making the difference, perhaps, between the postseason and the offseason. His numbers—19-9, 3.01 ERA (AL-best), 179 Ks, 1.210 WHIP—earned him a third-place vote finish at the time.
2007 NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy (original), Brandon Webb (revised)
We have a top quartet for the NL Cy: Houston Astros star Roy Oswalt (6.6 WAR), Arizona Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb (6.4), San Diego Padres fireballer Jake Peavy (6.2), and Cincinnati Reds grinder Aaron Harang (6.0). Peavy won the vote for a team that missed the postseason by 1 game; it’s clear how close these four guys come in topical value, though.
Houston won just 73 games, so Oswalt’s MLB-best WAR mark went to waste; he can’t win his third straight trophy from us. Arizona won the NL West by a half game over the Rockies and a full game over the Padres, putting Webb—the guy we took this award away from last year—in the lead here. The Reds finished 1 game worse than the Astros, so Webb walks away with this one.
His stats: 18-10 and a 3.01 ERA, with league-best marks in CGs (4), SOs (3), and IP (236 1/3). He also added 194 Ks and a 1.189 WHIP. Without him, Arizona wouldn’t have made the postseason, and the Padres would have done so instead.
2007 AL ROTY: Dustin Pedroia (original, confirmed)
The top five AL rookies in value came from just two teams: Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.0 WAR), Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia (3.9), Kansas City Royals starter Brian Bannister (2.9), Boston reliever Hideki Okajima (2.9), and Royals closer Joakim Soria (2.4). Normally, they’d all cancel each other out, right? But both Matsuzaka and Okajima are ineligible here, as prior, longtime Japanese professionals.
That helps Pedroia, who won the vote at the time: The Royals finished under .500, so with the Red Sox winning the AL East, we will confirm the award vote. He posted 0.6 dWAR, while hitting .317 overall with an .823 average. He only knocked 8 HRs and drove in 50 runs, but he walked 5 more times (47) than he struck out (42). Pedroia solidified a key position for the eventual World Series champions.
2007 NL ROTY: Ryan Braun (original), Troy Tulowitzki (revised)
This award vote was a joke then, and it’s an even worse joke now considering the winner’s eventual bust for PED use. How the voters could have overlooked Tulo for this award remains shocking, even 15 years later. Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun posted just 2.0 WAR in claiming this trophy from the media at the time—all because of 34 HRs, etc. Never mind his -2.9 dWAR, right? Incredibly stupid …
In fact, Braun finished sixth in NL rookie WAR, behind Tulo (6.8), Astros OF Hunter Pence (3.4), Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (2.4), Atlanta utility infielder Yunel Escobar (2.4), and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney (2.2). Seriously, this may be the single-worst vote result of the twenty-first century so far, and it should have been apparent at the time, too. It still hurts to think about, in truth.