Jose Altuve ran away with the AL MVP this season. He beat Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) and Jose Ramirez (Cleveland Indians) for the award, even though several experts believed the Yankees’ outfielder had a decent chance of winning the award in his first year as a regular MLB starter.
But that wasn’t the case. Here are three reasons why Judge didn’t really deserve to win the AL MVP in 2017.
An Absurdly High Strikeout Total
There’s no doubt that Judge had an impressive season. He deservedly won the Rookie Of The Year Award and became one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball after hitting 52 home runs with 114 RBI, 128 runs and 127 walks in 542 at-bats. However, one thing he also did was strike out. A LOT.
Judge finished with 208 Ks during the regular season. And also added 27 in 48 AB during the playoffs. If we combine the entire year, we can see that the Yankees’ outfielder struck out 256 times in 590 ABs; that’s equal to striking out in almost 50% of his plate appearances. That’s not good. And if Judge doesn’t improve that soon, he will be at risk of becoming the next Adam Dunn. And no one would like to see him end up as a three-outcome hitter considering all the tools he had at his disposal.
Altuve’s Consistency During The Entire Season
When talking about consistency in baseball, the name of Jose Altuve is one of the quickest that comes to mind of every MLB fan. The Astros’ infielder once again displayed that level of consistency during the 2017 season, and the numbers certainly back him up. Altuve led the AL with a .346 batting average during the regular season and hit for .310 during the Astros’ World Series run. To put things into perspective, his “worst” month when it comes to average was September when he hit .298. His worst month gave us a better batting average than players such as Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones or the same Judge.
Judge only hit .284 and even though he led the AL in several offensive categories, he wasn’t exactly consistent. He hit a big slump during the second half of the season, and at one point he hit .230 in July and .185 in August. Sure, he was excellent during the other few months. But such a prolonged slump is not going the case for an MVP Award, especially when consistency is a trait most voters look for.
The MVP Award should be given to players based on his regular season performance. But it’s undeniable that postseason performances also play a role here. The same thing happens with the Gold Glove Award in some cases. Postseason performances shouldn’t be a factor, but they are. And there is no question Altuve had a better playoff run than Judge.
The numbers don’t lie. Even though Altuve played five more games, the differences are telling:
Altuve: 22-for-71, .310/.388/.634, 1.021 OPS, 7 HR, 14 RBI, 14 R, 14 SO, 9 BB
Judge: 9-for-48, .188/.316/.500, .816 OPS, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R, 27 SO, 9 BB
Simply put, Altuve performed better on crunch time and was a key reason why the Astros lifted the World Series title. Those things matter. And while Judge could easily end up winning an MVP or three in the near future, Altuve was far more consistent and better this year. And he deserved the Award.