Our second MLB Monday miniseries forges forward to 1907 today: World Series MVPs, Managers of the Years (MOTY), and eventually (undeserving) Gold Glove winners, all wrapped into one weekly column that will get fatter as time goes on. All of this happened more than a century ago, but thanks to journalists and sports historians, we still can do research and figure out a lot of stuff retroactively. It’s what we love to do!
This is one of the less-memorable World Series ever, strangely enough …
1907 World Series MVP: Ed Reulbach, P, Chicago (NL)
The Chicago Cubs returned to the Series and defeated the Detroit Tigers in 5 games, including a tie. So, it was basically a sweep, since the ties did not count (great way to increase gate revenue, though?). It was all pitching for the Cubs, as the Tigers—led by a young Ty Cobb—produced just 3 runs in the 4 losses. Cobb himself hit just .200 in his first World Series appearance, while the star of the Fall Classic was probably Chicago pitcher Ed Reulbach.
Game One was a 12-inning tie, and Reulbach pitched the final three innings, all hitless. This preserved the status quo against Detroit’s best starter, Bill Donovan, who went all 12 innings for the Tigers and would lose his other start in the matchup. With the close proximity of the two Midwest cities, there were no travel days, so just two days later, Reulbach went the distance in a 5-1 victory in Game Three. This gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the Series, and of course, they closed it out with two more victories.
In his 12 IP, he surrendered just 9 baserunners and 1 earned run, while also adding an RBI himself at the plate in Game Three. These all-around contributions determined this award, as only Chicago third baseman Harry Steinfeldt stood out at the plate (.471, 2 XBHs, 2 RBI). But with the Cubs pitching being so red hot, those numbers lose value in a short series. The contextual value for Reulbach’s quality IP truly stands out here.
1907 AL MOTY: Connie Mack, Philadelphia
Tigers Manager Hughie Jennings (minus-1 PP) almost cost his team the pennant, thanks to the prowess of Philadelphia Athletics Manager Connie Mack and his brilliance (plus-7). Detroit won the pennant by 1.5 games, when it could have been a cakewalk. We give all the credit to Mack for that, without faulting Jennings too much. The A’s didn’t have a hitter crack 5.0 WAR, as they were led by a stellar pitching duo (Eddie Plank, Chief Bender).
Meanwhile, in a pitching-rich era, the Tigers had two Hall of Fame hitters, Cobb (6.8 WAR) and Sam Crawford (5.9), leading the way offensively. Again, we don’t criticize Jennings too much here; rather, it shows how Mack always knew how to squeeze the most out of his available talent, which is one of many reasons why he is the Hall of Fame himself, of course. This is Mack’s second nod from us in three seasons.
1907 NL MOTY: Frank Chance, Chicago (NL)
Remember, he won this award last year as the Cubs set a winning percentage record that has never been broken. But that squad then lost the World Series, so for Chance to bring his team back to win another 107 games is pretty impressive. Yet he also helped them overachieve, too (plus-5 PP). So, both psychologically and practically, Chance did an excellent job in this role, even with the talented roster he had to work with.
The Cubs won the pennant by 17 games, so they also had to remain focused, and the PP mark is evidence that Chance held them together all through the long regular season on their way to redemption for the 1906 World Series collapse. While it’s not a part of our analysis, as not every manager was also a player, it is interesting to note that at age 30, Chance himself played in just 111 games—his lowest as a full-time player ever. One year after topping the NL in runs and steals, he wisely knew when to sit himself.