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The 2007 American League Second Most Valuable Player Award
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
November 8, 2007
With two months to go in the 2007 baseball season, it was not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Detroit Tigers would have made the playoffs either as the AL Central division winners or as the AL wild card, and the New York Yankees would have missed the playoffs altogether.
If that would have happened, then the AL MVP race would have been interesting, because the league’s top offensive player would have not still been playing in October, while two players who had outstanding seasons but were not the top offensive player in the league would have been playoff bound.
As it was, the Yankees squeaked into the playoffs as the AL wild card, while the Tigers collapsed and went home. Thus, Alex Rodriguez will be the 2007 American League Most Valuable Player and Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez will not.
To tell you the truth, it wasn’t actually that close at all.
What A-Rod did this season, in what turned out to be not only a contract year but also a year that saw a decline in power numbers across the board, was pretty incredible. So incredible, in fact, that talking about the AL MVP (and the AL Hank Aaron Award), is actually quite uninteresting.
What is interesting, however, is talking about who was the Second Most Valuable Player in the American League. For this award, we have several candidates.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Pena finally had his coming out party in 2007. He was the only OTAR (Other Than A-Rod) player in the AL to hit more than 35 homeruns, and he hit 46, while leading the league in homeruns per at-bat. He finished with an OPS over 1.000 for the first time in his career (actually, he finished with an OPS over .850 for the first time in his career as well), and he drove in over 120 RBI in less than 500 at-bats. His accomplishments were all for naught, of course, because he played for the lowly Devil Rays, but for a young, exciting team that is currently rebuilding (actually, just building, since re-building indicates that you were once built), Pena could be the good, cheap, veteran presence that this team needs.
Curtis Granderson, CF, Detroit Tigers
Granderson became the third (and Jimmy Rollins soon after became the fourth) player ever to hit 20 doubles, triples, and homeruns while stealing 20 bases in a single season. Granderson batted leadoff for the (surprisingly?) high-powered Detroit Tigers offense, and played a seemingly Gold Glove caliber centerfield. As tempting as it may be to think that Granderson’s extra-base prowess stems from his enormous home ballpark, Granderson hit 13 of his 23 homeruns and 13 of his 23 triples on the road in 2007, indicating that his home ballpark may be under-representing how good he is. Unfortunately for Granderson, he can’t be the second best player in the league, because he is only the second best player on his own team . . .
So, without further ado, give it up for the 2007 American League Second Most Valuable Player of the Year:
Magglio Ordonez, RF, Detroit Tigers
“Maggs” had an amazing year by any standard. There have been very few seasons in baseball history in which a season of the caliber of Ordonez’s 2007 season would not have won the MVP. He went 3-4-5 and joined the 100 plus club, while also winning the batting title with a robust .363 average and setting a career high in runs, hits, doubles, RBI, batting average, and on-base percentage. He won the batting title by beating Ichiro Suzuki by 12 points, which is no easy feat.
In this era of high strikeout homerun hitters, Magglio managed to post an almost .600 slugging percentage (.595) without even striking out 80 times (79). By comparison, of the other players with as high a slugging percentage, only Chipper Jones managed to strikeout less than 100 times, and he only played 134 games. Meanwhile, Ordonez also set a career high for walks with 76.
No one is saying Ordonez is a great defensive right fielder, but he managed only 1 error all season, and led all American League rightfielders in both fielding percentage and Zone Rating, a remarkable double.
Magglio will have to console himself with his SMVP Award, and just know that in just about any other season (like, for example, 2006), or any other league (like, for example, the National League in 2007), he would have easily won the MVP Award.
As little doubt as there is that A-Rod was the best offensive player in the American League this year, there is even less doubt that Maggs was the second best.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at email@example.com.