For the second straight season, a league MVP is a reigning World Series champion.
Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Astros second baseman Jose Altuve won the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player award Thursday. Altuve and the Astros clinched the first World Series title in franchise history earlier this month. Last year Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was named NL MVP after winning the World Series.
Altuve picked up 27 of a possible 30 first-place votes, beating Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, , by a 405-279 margin. Judge earned two first-place votes as well as 27 second-place votes and one for third place. Indians infielder Jose Ramirez placed third.
This season Altuve led the AL in hits for the fourth straight year and finished with a .346/.410/.547 (164 OPS+) batting line with 24 home runs and 32 stolen bases. His batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ are all new career highs. He also led all players -- that includes position players and pitchers, AL and NL -- with 8.3 WAR in 2017.
Altuve has gradually climbed the AL MVP voting ranks over the years, going from 13th in the voting in 2014 to 10th in 2015 to third in 2016 to winning the award in 2017. He is the second Astros player to be named league MVP, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell won the 1994 NL MVP award, when the Astros were still in the Senior Circuit.
Judge is the first rookie to finish runner-up in the MVP voting since Angels wunderkind Mike Trout was second to Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers back in 2012. Here are the three MVP finalists side-by-side:
All three were very deserving of the award. Ramirez, who earned the only first-place vote that didn't go to Altuve or Judge, was the best player on the best team in the AL, at least during the regular season, and that usually is enough to earn a player strong MVP consideration. Altuve beat Ramirez and Judge out by being more consistently excellent from Opening Day through Game 162.
Angels perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout, who lost a significant portion of the season to injury, finished fourth in the voting. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Indians starter Corey Kluber rounded out the top seven, all of whom topped 100 points in the final tally.
As a reminder, voting for all major awards takes places after the regular season and before the postseason. These are regular season awards only. The full 2017 AL MVP voting results can be seen at the BBWAA's site.