Not only was Derrek Lee a one-and-done on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot, he didn’t get a single vote.
And although I’m not convinced he’s a should-be Hall-of-Famer, it’s worth considering that he was a two-time all-star, three-time Gold Glove winner and World Series champion with more than 300 homers and 1,000 RBI to his credit. Perhaps things would have been different had he won the NL MVP award in 2005, a season in which Lee had one of the single greatest years in the middle of the game’s most productive offensive eras.
That winter, Lee finished third in the NL MVP vote behind winner Albert Pujols and runner-up Andruw Jones, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He led the league in hits (199), doubles (50), batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.662), on-base plus slugging (1.080), total bases (393) and had an OPS+ of 174 – meaning he was 74 percent better than the average player in baseball.
The 2005 version of Derrek Lee hit for average and power, added a dose of speed with 15 stolen bases and won a Gold Glove. He showed off every tool in the baseball tool box that season – and all he has to show for it was a third place finish in the MVP race.
Well, not for long. Today is the day we show Lee the respect he should have earned in 2005. And for visual proof, let’s go back to June 1, 2005 and watch Lee show off all his skills with the legendary Vin Scully on the call at Dodger Stadium.
Nothing epitomized Lee’s amazing season like a highlight-reel day narrated by the greatest voice in baseball history.
Unfortunately, at the same time, Albert Pujols was busy doing this:
… while Andruw Jones was off hitting home runs like this:
And both did it for teams that made the playoffs.
Lee’s 2005 Cubs finished 79-83 – which could serve as an argument for why he deserved the MVP that went to Pujols.
It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to envision a stat line where Lee drives in more than 107 runs if the rest of his teammates didn’t rank 11th of 16 NL teams in on-base percentage. Perhaps he would’ve had more pitches to hit if the lineup behind him was more of a threat. Maybe Lee would have received more respect from writers if Cubs pitchers pitched well enough to earn more wins along the way.
In 2005, Lee had one of the great all-time seasons with nothing to show about it. Except this post, of which he is the MVP.