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Re-Visiting the Madness of the 2007 NL MVP Race

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Last year, we took a look back at the loaded 2006 NL MVP race, in which we examined why Albert Pujols was robbed of another accolade. A year later, the 2007 race became one of the most heavily-talked about award votes of the 21st century. The field was just as talented, but the vote again left baseball fans scratching their heads. In fact, this robbery may have been more egregious than what occurred in 2006.

Re-Ranking the Top 10

10. Troy Tulowitzki, COL (Real Finish: 18)

After a brief cup of coffee in 2006, Tulowitzki dazzled in his first full season in the bigs. He hit .291/.359/.479 (109 OPS+) with 24 homers, 33 doubles, 99 RBIs, and 6.8 rWAR, which led all rookies. Tulo’s rWAR actually remained the highest for any single season in his career. Tulo was also outstanding in the fielding, racking up 31 DRS, leading all shortstops. Yet even the Rockies’ late-season surge into the playoffs couldn’t sway award voters, as Tulo missed out on Rookie of the Year to Ryan Braun and couldn’t capture a Gold Glove.

9. Prince Fielder, MIL (3)

Fielder did nothing but mash in his second full season in the majors. He hit .288/.395/.618 (157 OPS+) with an NL-leading 50 homers, 35 doubles, and 119 RBIs. Fielder made his first All-Star Game and picked up his first Silver Slugger. While his offense was spectacular, Fielder’s defense was subpar, with -15 DRS and -2.4 dWAR, which dragged overall rWAR down to just 3.6. If Fielder had even been a league-average defender at first base, he would’ve had a compelling case to win MVP.

8. Hanley Ramirez, FLA (10)

The Marlins lost 91 games, but Ramirez was one of the team’s highlights. On the offensive side of the ball, Ramirez was nothing short of electrifying. He hit .332/.386/.562 (145 OPS+) with 29 homers, 48 doubles, 81 RBIs, and 51 steals. Han-Ram was tied for first in the NL with 7.2 oWAR and was one of the fastest base-runners in baseball. Just like Fielder though, Ramirez’s defense was atrocious, with -28 DRS at shortstop. His defense dragged his rWAR down to 4.4 and likely cost him votes.

7. Jimmy Rollins, PHI (1)

Rollins had the best season of his career in 2007, setting career-highs in several categories. He played in all 162 games, hitting .296/.344/.531 (119 OPS+) with 30 homers, 38 doubles, 20 triples, 41 steals, 94 RBIs, and 6.1 rWAR. J-Roll also garnered a lot of votes for being vocal about the Phillies’ playoff hopes before the season, and he led the Phillies’ late charge down the stretch to their first playoff appearance since 1993. However, looking at the rest of the league, Rollins’ numbers pale in comparison to the other contenders. In fact, Rollins arguably wasn’t even the best player on the Phillies.

6. Jake Peavy, SD (7)

Peavy was the only pitcher in the top 10 of MVP voting, and it’s not an exaggeration to say he was the best pitcher on the planet in 2007. He won the pitching Triple Crown, going 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA/2.84 FIP (158 ERA+) and a 1.061 WHIP along with 240 strikeouts in 223.1 innings (9.7 K/9). Peavy made his second All-Star Game and was the unanimous winner of the NL Cy Young award. While the Padres narrowly missed out on the playoffs, it’s hard to fault Peavy, as San Diego wouldn’t have been able to compete without him.

5. Chase Utley, PHI (8)

While Rollins won the MVP, Utley was even better in a lot of ways. He hit a scalding .332/.410/.566 (146 OPS+) with 22 homers, 48 doubles, 103 RBIs, and 7.8 rWAR. He also paced MLB by getting hit with 25 pitches. Utley was also one of the best defensive second basemen in MLB, racking up 18 DRS. He was an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger for the second straight year. While Rollins has Utley beat in hits, homers, steals, and triples, Utley has him beat in every other category, both offensively and defensively.

4. Albert Pujols, STL (9)

For most players, Pujols’ stats would be considered great, but by his standards, they were rather disappointing. In fact, Pujols’ ninth-place finish in MVP voting was the lowest he ever placed during his time in St. Louis. Regardless, Pujols turned in a strong .327/.429/.568 (157 OPS+) batting line with 32 homers, 38 doubles, 103 RBIs, and an NL-leading 8.7 rWAR. Pujols also drew 99 walks against just 58 strikeouts, and he was elite defensively, recording a career-high 31 DRS. After winning the World Series in 2006 though, the Cardinals as a whole took a step back, suffering a rare losing season.

3. Matt Holliday, COL (2)

Holliday had the best season of his career in 2007, and he was the face of the Rockies as they charged to the playoffs in September. He hit .340/.405/.607 (151 OPS+) with 216 hits, 36 homers, 50 doubles, 137 RBIs, and 6.0 rWAR. Holliday led the NL in batting average, hits, RBIs, doubles, and total bases. The only real issue that holds Holliday back is that he was only a league-average fielder. While detractors will use the Coors Field argument against Holliday, he still had a .301/.374/.485 batting line on the road. He was an All-Star and won his second Silver Slugger. In game 163 against the Padres, Holliday hit a game-tying triple off Trevor Hoffman and then scored the winning run on Jamey Carroll‘s sacrifice fly.

2. Chipper Jones, ATL (6)

In his age-35 season, Chipper Jones had his best season since he was in his 20s. He hit .337/.425/.604 (165 OPS+) with 29 homers, 42 doubles, 102 RBIs, and a career-high 7.6 rWAR. He even turned in a solid defensive season with 5 DRS. Jones led the NL in OPS and OPS+, and he likely would have been an All-Star and received more MVP votes if he hadn’t missed close to a month with a wrist injury. After starting the season 24-12, the Braves came crashing down to earth, going 14-26 over their next 40 games with Jones missing 24 games during that stretch. Atlanta missed the playoffs for the second straight season, but Jones did everything in his power to keep them in the race.

1. David Wright, NYM (4)

Wright had the best season of his illustrious career in 2007, and he was perceived as the front runner for MVP until the Mets infamously lost 12 of their last 17 games to surrender the NL East to the surging Phillies. Wright hit .325/.416/.546 (149 OPS+) with 30 homers, 42 doubles, 34 steals, 107 RBIs, and a career-high 8.3 rWAR. He became the first Mets player since Howard Johnson in 1991 to record a 30-30 season.

Wright was an All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and won his first Gold Glove, racking up 12 DRS at the hot corner. It’s hard to fault Wright for the Mets’ September swoon, as he had a 1.052 OPS that month and even finished the year on a 17-game hitting streak. Even with the Mets fading down the stretch, Wright still had the most compelling case to win MVP.

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Mathias is a graduate student at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is currently studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism on the Sports Media and Communications track. He graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2021, where he studied journalism and served as the Sports Editor and Opinions Editor for the school's newspaper, The Signal. He joined Overtime Heroics as a writer in June of 2019 and became an editor in December of 2020 before taking over the MLB department in June of 2021. Mathias is also a former varsity swimmer and is the youngest of five kids.