Culture / Sporting Life

Justice — Jose Altuve Rightfully Clobbers One-Dimensional Aaron Judge in MVP Voting: Runaway Win Isn’t Just Good for Houston, It’s Good for Baseball

BY // 11.16.17

Justice prevails — Houston Astros igniter Jose Altuve is the American League Most Valuable Player in a landslide. OK, it’s only a baseball award (even if it is the most prestigious award in baseball, and arguably all of sports). But this hotly debated (if not actually hotly contested) MVP race shook out as a battle for the game’s soul.

If one-dimensional New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge had won the MVP over Altuve and his all-around brilliance, Major League Baseball would have been in a bad place.

But there are no such worries now. Altuve did not just beat Judge in the voting. He clobbered Gotham’s giant hero. For all the endless sports debate show arguments and the love for Pinstriped Power Man, it’s not even close. Altuve takes 27 of the 30 first place votes to a mere two for Judge. In the end, Altuve beats Judge by more than 100 points in the Baseball Writers Association of America balloting.

Any time a Houston player beats a New York pushed marquee star for a major award, it means a little something beyond sports too. In a media conference call after the results are revealed, a New York Post writer seems shocked that Judge does not come closer to winning.

The only three writers who don’t vote Altuve No. 1 are Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star and Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star (who both go with Judge) and Rustin Dodd also of the Kansas City Star, who inexplicably selects the Cleveland Indians’ Jose Ramirez as his MVP choice. Who knew there was such a dedicated anti-Altuve sentiment in Kansas City?

Regardless, it’s Altuve in a romp in the Thursday night MVP reveal. As it should be.

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He is the unparalleled force that makes the best team in baseball go on so many levels. If Jose Altuve does not happen to be a 5-foot-6 man, there’s probably never even a debate. Altuve is driving a 101-win team day after day, hit after hit after hit after hit, while Judge yo-yos around like he’s a bad amusement park ride.

Chipotle’s stock is more steady than Aaron Judge’s 2017 season.

In the end, the sports writers see that. Houston gets its first league MVP since Jeff Bagwell in 1994 (Hakeem Olajuwon also won NBA MVP in 1994). There has been a lot of Houston sports heartbreak in the 23 years since Bagwell took home that piece of prized hardware.

Jose Altuve is more responsible than anybody for flipping the script and turning Houston into a legit championship city again.

The MVP Wait

Of course, it’s never quite sweat free for Astros fans. They have to sit through 52 minutes of the MLB Network’s MVP announcement show before Altuve’s name is finally read.

On satellite, as low-key as ever in a black T-shirt, the best player in baseball, drops his head when he hears in name. Altuve appears touched — and even professes to be surprised. If so, he’s the only man in baseball surprised that Jose Altuve is the American League MVP.

“Guys, I don’t know what to say,” Altuve allows in the moments after winning. “I wasn’t expecting this. This is great.”

With MVP ballots due after the end of the regular season, Altuve’s standout, championship driving postseason does not even factor into this award. Usually MVPs don’t win the World Series anyway. This an award often captured by self-focused talents. Altuve becomes the first player to win the American League MVP Award and the World Series in the same season since Detroit Tigers reliever Willie Hernandez pulled off the feat way back in 1984.

Of course, despite the urging of the MLB Network crew to finally only talk about himself, this ultimate team player still manages to find a way to work the rest of the Astros into it.

“All my teammates made me the MVP I want to say,” Altuve tells America.

Of course, this is one of the most self made men in baseball. Altuve overcame getting doubted, dismissed and discounted for years, fighting all kinds of preconceived notions about what type of player he could be. No one expected this guy to turn himself into the best player in baseball.

He did — and now he has the trophy to prove it. After the Astros won the World Series, Bagwell himself told PaperCity that he considers Altuve to be “the modern day Tony Gwynn.” Altuve is that and much more. Gwynn’s not hitting three home runs in one playoff game.

Judge may be the Yankees’ Next Great Hope (and New York’s Next Great Overrated Star), but the truth is he never could hang in this race despite the wow factor of his home runs.

Sometimes, the best guy does win. And all of baseball does too.

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