People need to stop saying that the 2007 Colorado Rockies were a fluke.
Unless the intent is merely to point out the oddity of the circumstances -- a historic run not likely to be repeated -- using the word "fluke" is misguided, misleading, and flat-out false. It is at best a misunderstanding of the facts and at worst a rhetorical position that chooses to selectively consider "luck" inside the game of baseball in order to push an overwrought, emotionally-driven narrative that seeks to paint the Rockies in the darkest pallet imaginable.
As Roger Angell put it:
Luck, indeed, plays an almost predictable part in the game; we have all seen the enormous enemy clout into the bleachers that just hooks foul at the last instant, and the half-checked swing that produces a game-winning blooper over second. Everyone complains about baseball luck, but I think it adds something to the game that is nearly essential. Without it, such a rigorous and unforgiving pastime would be almost too painful to enjoy.
It is true that the way the Rockies won the National League pennant had flukish elements, but like the Oakland A's streak of 20 consecutive wins in 2002, the larger point is that the underlying talent absolutely earned the end result.
We get so caught up on the streak we can forget how truly good that team was, and how unlucky they were just before winning 21 of 22 games. If anything, the streak itself was corrective sequencing. The Rockies' 102 run differential was the best in the National League that year, and it wasn't close. The Braves were second at 77.
It doesn't stop there. That team led the NL in combined rWAR. They were the most efficient defensive teams in baseball history, setting the record at the time for highest fielding percentage ever. They had the true MVP (Matt Holliday) and a legit Cy Young candidate in Jeff Francis. If we understood park factors then the way we do now, both of those player likely come away with hardware.
Holliday in particular was a beast that year, posting a .340/.405/.607 slash-line, good for a (park-adjusted) 151 wRC+ and 6.9 fWAR. Jimmy Rollins, who won MVP, posted a 119 wRC+ and 6.5 fWAR.
Troy Tulowitzki had one of the greatest defensive seasons in the last 25 years, while breaking a rookie record for home runs as a shortstop and hitting eighth much of the year.
Put it all together and you have, statistically, the best team in the National League.
Even the fact that the team went on to be competitive in 2009 and 2010 -- and would have been in 2008 if not for a myriad of massive injuries to key players -- proves the most important point: The Rockies had a playoff caliber team for four consecutive seasons.
If we are opening the "luck factor" for legitimate debate when discussing this team since 2007, you also then have to be fair and consider the end of 2010, all of 2008, Jorge De La Rosa's untimely injuries, the fate of Jhoulys Chacin, CarGo and Tulo's health, and the Coors Field hang-over effect.
Not to mention the general existence of the San Francisco Giants, and the worst and saddest one of all -- the death of Keli McGreggor.
None of this is to say the Rockies didn't, to some degree, get lucky in 2007. Every team that gets to a World Series needs to have some luck on their side. Kaz Matsui hit a grand slam in a pivotal moment of a playoff series for crying out loud.
But to quote Purple Row's Eric Garcia McKinley: "Luck is a requirement to win in baseball. That's what makes it so damned fun."
If the term "fluke" is meant to imply in any way that the 2007 Rockies did not deserve to win the National League pennant -- or that they really weren't good enough and just got lucky -- the term becomes a lie.
When it is used to imply that they got so lucky that winning the pennant was somehow a bad thing -- or even the worst thing to ever happen to the team -- it becomes a dangerous lie.
Saying something is rare is not enough proof to conclude it was an accident.
And concluding it was an accident robs you of the lessons you can learn by trying to recapture the formula that made the 2007 Rockies so good and kept them competitors for three more years.