Friday night, the Astros beat the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS (HOU 2, NYY 1) thanks mostly to Dallas Keuchel, who kept New York off-balance and threw seven scoreless innings. Jose Altuve was the catalyst on offense, going 3 for 4 with a stolen base and a run scored. He is now 11 for 19 (.579) in five postseason games, including three three-hit games.
The ALCS features the top two AL MVP candidates in Altuve and Yankees rookie masher Aaron Judge. At the very least, they're two of the top three MVP candidates along with Indians infielder Jose Ramirez.
Prior to Game 1, Altuve was asked about the MVP voting, and who he'd pick for the award. He went with Judge. Here are Altuve's comments:
Q. If you had a vote who would you pick for MVP?
JOSE ALTUVE: Probably him. Judge, yeah.
JOSE ALTUVE: Because he hit a lot of homers, a lot of RBIs, he got on base a lot, and I like the way he plays. If I was a GM I want him on my team because he plays the right way and he's very humble.
This is, of course, Altuve himself being very humble. It would've been a shock to see him come out and say "I should win MVP, totally." That's not Altuve.
And that's not Judge either. All the success Judge has had as a rookie hasn't gone to his head at all. Altuve went on to praise him for being humble.
Q. A lot of people look at this series as one that features two MVP front-runners. Aaron Judge spoke very highly of you after they won the DS. What about Aaron Judge do you see impresses you and what makes him a good player?
JOSE ALTUVE: So, obviously, he's really strong. He hits the ball way farther than anybody in the big leagues, all his homers. He plays good defense, he did everything to win the MVP in the regular season. But what I like the most about him is how humble he is. I met him in the All-Star Game and he couldn't believe he was there. He was like, Wow, this is awesome. And I was like, Yeah, but I came here to watch you hit, you know, and I'm happy to be with you. And he was so humble and was like, No, no, no, I'm happy to be here with you guys. And if he wins the MVP, I think that it couldn't happen to a better guy, because he works really hard and I like the way he plays. He hits all his homers and he doesn't even -- you know, never enjoy it. And I was like, Wow, this guy is so good and he's so humble about it. And maybe another life I want to be Aaron Judge and hit all those homers.
MVP votes are already in. Voting for all the major awards takes place after the regular season but before the postseason. Altuve edged Judge in batting average (.346 to .284), stolen bases (32 to 9), and WAR (8.3 to 8.1) during the regular season while Judge had the advantage in on-base percentage (.422 to .410), slugging percentage (.627 to .547), OPS (1.049 to .957), homers (52 to 24), and RBI (114 to 81). Both are worthy MVP candidates.
Of course, Altuve is having a much better postseason. Like I said, he is 11 for 19 (.579) in five postseason games, and has three three-hit games and one three-homer game. Judge has struggled so far, going 4 for 27 (.148) with 17 strikeouts in seven games. That won't have any impact on the MVP voting though. The votes are already in.
My hunch right now is Altuve will win MVP because he had the more consistent season start to finish -- Judge slipped into a brutal slump the first six or so weeks of the second half -- while Judge and Ramirez finish second and third in the voting in either order. Judge is a lock to win the Rookie of the Year, however.