Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was the clear favorite among Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters for the American League Most Valuable Player award, as he took 27 of 30 first-place votes en route to his first MVP nod.
Altuve, a diminutive but dominating figure, led the American League in hits for the fourth-straight season and finished with a .346/.410/.547 slash with 24 home runs and 32 steals. While the Astros’ postseason success did not weigh in the balloting, the team’s 101-win regular season campaign surely did not hurt Altuve’s candidacy.
Some thought it would be a tighter race between Altuve and the towering Aaron Judge, who was an easy choice for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Judge topped fifty homers while also pacing the A.L. in walks (as well as strikeouts). While he rebounded from a late-summer swoon to post a monster month of September, finishing with an excellent .284/.422/.627 campaign at the plate, Altuve’s steady excellence earned him the award.
Third and fourth place went to Jose Ramirez of the Indians and Mike Trout of the Angels, respectively. Ramirez doubled down on his breakout 2016 season, delivering a .318/.374/.583 batting line and stellar defense to the team with the American League’s best record. All of the three finalists — worthy though they were — have Trout’s torn thumb ligament to thank for opening the award to other contenders. He racked up nearly seven wins above replacement in just 114 games and could well have been an easy choice in his own right in a full season of action.