Quick question, which of these players were most valuable to their team this season?
A) Ryan Howard
B) Carlos Pena
C) Miguel Cabrera
D) Justin Morneau
E) Carlos Delgado
Once Pena's BABIP regressed to expected levels his season took off. He wasn't quite as good as 2007, but Pena maintained a way in order to producing a .387 wOBA* (Park adjusted), the second highest of his career. Pena is a solid defensive first baseman, although probably not more deserving of the gold glove than Mark Teixeira, but so be it, those things have less value than a cassette tape nowadays. That's not taking anything away from Pena, because he does have defensive value, but he's unlikely the best first baseman in the AL.
I always find the talk about Pena's inconsistency humorous at best. Nobody has proven he's any less consistent than Evan Longoria or Carl Crawford, yet Pena gets tagged as someone you cannot rely on. To me, saying a player is inconsistent better mean his season looks average due to an extremely good and extremely bad half that aren't explainable through luck. Pena's first half can be explained by luck and injury. His second half looked a heck of a lot like 2007.
I think it's safe to say Pena is (hopefully, otherwise "was") in his prime during both seasons, and there isn't a lot of reason to believe he's going to fall apart during the longevity of his contract, which now has two seasons remaining.