The AL MVP has been an exciting race the entire season and it is still undecided who will win the award. Although Mike Trout posted the best per game statistics in the American League, he missed a good amount of time with an injury and plays for a team that will not be playing in October. The contest will be between Yankees’ right fielder Aaron Judge and Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve. There are so many interesting story lines between the two players, mainly due to their difference in size. Jose Altuve is the smallest player in baseball and has incredible contact and speed while Judge is the biggest player in MLB history and possesses the most power in baseball.
Why Judge should win?
Aaron Judge has been an incredible story as it was unknown if he would even make the team before the season. During a brief stint in the Bronx last season, Judge struck out 50% of his at bats and hit an abysmal .174. However, Judge grabbed the bull by the horn and put together one of the greatest rookie seasons in MLB history, breaking numerous records along with way. A few of the records that he broke were the most home runs by the rookie, 52, most home runs in Yankees Stadium in a season, 33, and most walks in a season by a rookie, 127. Judge had one of the most up and down seasons in baseball this season as he batted .330 with 30+ home runs before the All Star break, went through a terrible stretch in July and August, but ended the season extraordinarily strong in September, which catapulted him back into the MVP race. Along with Judge’s impressive power, AL-leading 52 home runs, he hit a respectful .284, while leading the AL in On-Base Percentage, .422, OPS, 1.049, walks, 127, runs, 128, and finishing second in the AL in RBIs, 114. In addition, he leads in WAR, depending on the WAR statistic that you are looking at. Outside of batting average, steals, and hits, Judge leads Altuve in nearly every offensive category. Along with great offensive statistics, he was one of the better right fielders in baseball as he posted a positive DWAR. In addition, his demeanor and leadership abilities cannot be neglected as he helped the Baby Bombers mature quickly and compete against more experienced teams. Judge’s importance to the Yankees cannot be more evident. When he was crushing the ball in the first half of the season, the Yankees led the AL East and were one of the best teams in the league. However, during his struggles, New York lost their AL East lead and had difficulty scoring. The combination of his offensive power, defensive ability, and leadership is the reason why he was vital to the Yankees path to the playoffs and should win the 2017 AL MVP.
Why Altuve should win?
Jose Altuve may only be 5’6″, 165, but he is one of the three best players in the league because he can literally do everything on a baseball field. Due to his size, position, and skill, Altuve reminds many of 2-time NL MVP second baseman Joe Morgan. Altuve has been progressively improving over the past five years and deserves this accreditation. Altuve can do it all on the field, whether it hit for average, blast balls out of the park, use his speed to score, and play incredible defense. For the fourth straight seasons, Altuve led the league in hits while leading the league in average in three of the past four years. In addition to his incredible ability to hit for contact, Altuve has a lot of power for someone who is dramatically under 6’0″. This season, Altuve accumulated 67 extra base hits, 24 home runs, 39 doubles, and 4 triples, which led him to a .547 slugging percentage and .957 OPS. His ability to get on base and use his speed, 32 stolen bases, has enabled him to become one of the best run producing players in the league and a perfect lead off hitter. This season, the young Astro scored a total of 112 runs. Altuve’s statistics are undeniably amazing, but he is the heart of the Astros, the second best team in the AL and a team that won over 100 games. Altuve is the catalyst of one of the best offenses in baseball and should be recognized for his greatness as well as the Astros success.
Who should win the award?
Even though the race for AL MVP will be undeniably close, the winner of MVP should be Aaron Judge. Aaron Judge combines statistics with the wow-factor that is rare in a player and unheard of in a rookie. Judge leads the league in jersey sales, becoming the first rookie to ever accomplish that “feat”. In reality though, Judge possesses better numbers than Altuve, was more valuable for his club, and Judge produced in an inferior lineup. Although Judge recorded less hits and a lower average, his ability to draw walks enabled him to surprisingly score more runs and produce a higher on-base percentage than Altuve. In addition, even though Altuve is lauded for his great defense, Judge has produced a higher WAR. Although one can argue second base is a more important position than right field, it is not like Altuve is playing catcher, shortstop, or centerfield. Thus, Altuve has posted more hits, but Judge is still scoring more runs, driving more runs in, and hitting for vastly more power. In addition, Judge has done more in a lineup that is worse than the Astros lineup. The Astros paced the American League in runs, hits, doubles, total bases, average, on-base, slugging, and OPS. Although the Yankees were top three in many of these stats, the Bronx Bombers do not have the same fire power as the Astros. The combination of Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, and Marwin Gonzalez represent a stronger core than the Yankees can post. Although it would be criminal to diminish the talents and production of the diminuative second baseman, Aaron Judge deserves to be the third rookie to claim both the Rookie of the Year Award and the MVP.