On MLB Monday for our first February 2022 entry, it’s time for the 2008 season … seems like a long time ago, yet also as if it was yesterday. Time is funny that way, no? A blink of an eye, and the upcoming season could be canceled—or at least, delayed. That’s not American at all! Boo!! Here’s to hoping they get it all sorted out, as spring training would have started this week.
Anyway, here we go with another trip down memory lane … Enjoy!
2008 AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia (original, confirmed)
It was an odd year for this award, as Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman Mark Teixeira (7.8) topped the circuit in WAR, although he was acquired midseason from the Atlanta Braves. The WAR mark is misleading, leaving us with Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis (7.4) as the true best player in the league, followed by Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (7.0), who won the vote.
With the Orioles winning just 68 games and the Red Sox reaching the postseason, it looks like Pedroia will get to keep his trophy: The Angels won their division by 21 games, and Teixeira only brought 3.1 WAR to the table in the uniform. Those are the breaks, and these were Pedroia’s numbers, one year after he won the AL ROTY nod: .326 average, 17 HRs, 83 RBI, 20 SBs, and 1.9 dWAR.
He also led the league in runs (118), hits (213), and doubles (54) while posting an .869 OPS and winning a Gold Glove. Not bad for a second-year player, that’s for sure.
2008 NL MVP: Albert Pujols (original), Chase Utley (revised)
The senior circuit was loaded with great players this season, led by vote winner and St. Louis Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols (9.2 WAR). He was followed closely by Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley (9.0), Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (7.3), New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltrán (7.0), Mets 3B David Wright (6.9), and Houston Astros 1B Lance Berkman (6.9).
The teammates cancel each other out, and the Braves won just 72 games. This narrows the field, as the Astros and Cardinals missed the playoffs. The Phillies won the NL East Division by just 3 games over New York, so Utley gets this award instead of Pujols; those are the waters, as loyal readers know. Utley topped MLB in dWAR (3.5), so this award is well deserved.
His offensive stats? 33 HRs, 104 RBI, .915 OPS, and a league-high 27 HBPs. We will take that combination of grit and scrap any day in our lineup, thanks.
2008 AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee (original), John Danks (revised)
The top quartet of pitchers here were Cleveland Indians veteran Cliff Lee (6.8 WAR), Chicago White Sox phenom John Danks (6.4), Toronto Blue Jays star Roy Halladay (6.2), and Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester (6.1)—who just retired, strangely. The Indians and the Rangers didn’t finish over .500, so that hurts, and leaves us with Danks and Halladay.
The ChiSox won the AL Central by 1 game over the Minnesota Twins, while the Blue Jays finished double digits behind the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the AL East. So Danks steals the hardware away from Lee in this case, as Cleveland ended up 7.5 games behind Chicago in the division.
Surprises us, too, but here are vitals for Danks: 12-9, 3.32 ERA, 1.226 WHIP in 195 IP. That doesn’t seem like a great stat line, but clearly it made the different between the postseason and offseason for the Pale Hose. He posted 159 Ks in 33 starts, and Danks only coughed up 15 HRs all season (0.7 per 9 IP). Lee had the better season, but it happened in a virtual vacuum, so value is value is value is value.
2008 NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum (original), CC Sabathia (revised)
Five pitchers stood out in the NL: San Francisco Giants youngster Tim Lincecum (7.8 WAR), New York Mets ace Johan Santana (7.1), Chicago Cubs journeyman Ryan Dempster (6.9), Milwaukee Brewers acquisition CC Sabathia (6.7), and Arizona Diamondbacks star Dan Haren (6.1). The Giants won just 72 times, so Lincecum is out, even though he won the vote at the time for pitching in a relative void.
The Mets finished 1 game out of the wild-card spot, while the Cubs won the NL Central Division by 7.5 games over the wild-card Brewers. The D’backs finished 2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West Division. Interesting, especially since Sabathia posted 1.9 WAR with Cleveland before being traded to the Brewers. He was the difference between the playoffs and the winter for Milwaukee.
The Cubs could have won the NL Central without Dempster, and the Mets came up short in their quest for the postseason—they might have made it if the Brew Crew didn’t acquire Sabathia. This is unconventional, although CC did get enough votes to finish fifth in the Cy vote. He also pitched 8 more innings for Milwaukee than Cleveland, so there’s that to consider. But he was the difference maker here.
Sabathia was our pick for 2001 AL ROTY, too, remember, although we did strip him of the 2007 AL Cy. Either way, he gets this trophy for posting 17 wins, a 2.70 ERA, and 251 Ks in 253 combined IP. With Milwaukee alone, he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in the heat of a pennant race, which is the definition of clutch. His 1.003 WHIP in those 130 2/3 IP with the Brewers is pretty impressive, too.
2008 AL ROTY: Evan Longoria (original, confirmed)
Seven rookies posted 2.5 WAR or better in a competitive field for the award won by Devil Rays 3B Evan Longoria (4.8). He was followed by Kansas City Royals utility infielder Mike Aviles (4.7), Twins CF Denard Span (4.3), Detroit Tigers starter Armando Galarraga (4.1), New York Yankees swingman Joba Chamberlain (3.5), Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury (3.0), and Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler (2.8).
Tampa Bay won the AL East by 2 games over Boston, so that immediately helps Longoria. Kansas City and Detroit finished with losing records, as did Oakland. Meanwhile, Minnesota came up 1 game short in the AL Central, and New York finished 6 games out of the postseason. Boston had a 7-game edge for the wild-card spot, meaning Longoria had the most value here. He keeps his trophy.
He posted 1.3 dWAR at the hot corner for the division winners, while adding 27 HRs, 85 RBI, and an .874 OPS for the expansion franchise making its first postseason appearance in team history. That’s pressure performance, all things considered.
2008 NL ROTY: Geovany Soto (original, confirmed)
Of the three top rookies in this league, two played for the same team: Cincinnati Reds starter Edinson Vólquez (4.5 WAR) and his teammate, 1B Joey Votto (3.3). That leaves Cubs catcher Geovany Soto (3.3) as our winner, which is convenient, since he won the vote at the time, too. Chicago won the NL Central Division, so all’s well that ends well. Plus, the Reds won just 74 games.
Soto’s stats: 0.6 dWAR, 26 HRs, 86 RBI, .285 BA, and an .868 OPS. Not bad for a rookie, even if he’s playing half his games in Wrigley Field. At age 25, he would never again play so well, and this was the only All-Star year of his 13-year career.