We bring a special Sunday edition of our MLB Monday Series I Redux: We’re going back to fill in early seasons of the World Series era when it comes to the league MVP and Cy Young awards. This is an extension of our first miniseries that started back in March 2020, as we began then with the first year MVPs were given out (1911), but we should have started 8 seasons earlier. So, here we go!
1907 AL MVP: Sam Crawford, CF, Detroit
The top six candidates here are from three teams: Cleveland Naps second baseman Napoleon Lajoie (7.6 WAR), Detroit Tigers right fielder Ty Cobb (6.8), Tigers center fielder Sam Crawford (5.9), Cleveland outfielder Elmer Flick (5.6), St. Louis Browns left fielder George Stone (5.4), and Browns shortstop Bobby Wallace (5.2). This will come down to the pennant chase.
The Tigers won the pennant by 1.5 games over the Philadelphia Athletics, and between Cobb (-0.7 dWAR) and Crawford (-0.4 dWAR), both were actually negative defenders! Where does this leave us? St. Louis finished under .500 on the year, and the Naps finished 8 games behind Detroit. Do we give this nod to Lajoie, the top WAR producer in the league? Or do we go with Crawford, as the lesser of two evils?
We’re torn. Without Lajoie, the Naps still would have finished over .500, while without Crawford, the Tigers would not have won the pennant. With the lack of better options, we give this nod to the Tigers “lesser” star for the following stats: .323 average, .826 OPS, league-high 102 runs, 81 RBI, and 18 SBs. He actually also did some time at first base, proving his versatility and willingness to help the ball club.
1907 NL MVP: Johnny Evers, 2B, Chicago
The four best players were Pittsburgh Pirates SS Honus Wagner (9.0 WAR), Philadelphia Phillies LF Sherry Magee (6.9), Pirates CF Tommy Leach (5.4), and Chicago Cubs 2B Johnny Evers (5.3). The Cubs won the pennant by 17 games, while the Pirates finished second. That mutes the value of both Wagner and Evers, of course. And the presence of Leach here also takes Wagner out of the debate.
So, we go with Evers: His 3.3 dWAR tied for the best in MLB with Lajoie, actually, while his offensive highlights included 51 RBI, 46 SBs, and 38 BBs … and only 17 strikeouts. He played in 151 games, which was the third-highest total of his career.
1907 AL Cy Young: Ed Killian, SP, Detroit
Our five best candidates: Chicago White Sox phenom Ed Walsh (7.7 WAR), Boston Americans legend Cy Young (7.6), Naps star Addie Joss (6.9), Tigers ace Ed Killian (6.3), and A’s veteran Eddie Plank (6.3). As we know, Detroit took the pennant by 1.5 games over the A’s, so this hardware goes to Killian in a surprise result.
His numbers: 25-13, 1.78 ERA, 1.201 WHIP, 29 CGs, 3 SOs, and 314 IP. That is a lot of innings at a high rate of performance, providing tremendous value.
1907 NL Cy Young: Christy Mathewson, SP, New York
The top guns in the senior circuit were New York Giants star Christy Mathewson (8.6 WAR), St. Louis Cardinals southpaw Ed Karger (6.4), Cincinnati Reds veteran Bob Ewing (6.3), Cubs wizard Mordecai Brown (5.8), and Chicago journeyman Carl Lundgren (5.7). The two teammates cancel each other out, and the Cards and Reds finished with losing records.
So, this comes down to Mathewson … and no one else. The Giants finished a distant fourth, but it is what it is. Here were the digits: 24-12, 2.00 ERA, 8 SOs, 178 Ks, and an 0.962 WHIP over 315 IP. He even added 2 saves to the ledger. This makes five Cy Youngs overall for Mathewson, too.