Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Altuve are the Most Valuable Players in their respective leagues according to the Baseball Writers Association of America. Did the writers do their job and name the right player the MVP?
Stanton v. Votto
The National League Most Valuable Player voting was one of the closest in the history of Major League Baseball. Five very deserving players were within 100 points of the eventual winner, Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton collected 302 points while runner up Joey Votto fell just short with 300 points. Stanton and Votto each accounted for 10 first place votes each, or 20 of the 30 dished out. Paul Goldschmidt recorded four, Charlie Blackmon took home three, Nolan Arenado had two and Kris Bryant somehow had one.
Let’s focus on the winner and runner up: Stanton and Votto. Stanton put up a titanic season, demolishing 59 home runs and driving in 132 while slashing .281/.376/.631. He led the Major Leagues in both home runs and RBI. His .631 slugging also led the National League.
Votto crushed 36 long balls while driving in 100 and slashed .320/.454/.578. Votto led the Major Leagues in games played with 162, walks with 134 and on base percentage. His 1.032 OBP led the National League. Votto recorded more walks than strikeouts, 134 free passes to 83 strikeouts.
Which player was more valuable to their team? Neither the Reds nor the Marlins made the playoffs, or were close for that matter, so the whole playing for a winning team argument goes out the window.
Broken down to its simplest form, baseball is about getting on base and scoring runs.
With hundreds of statistics and ways to evaluate players, the four most important stats in the game are runs scored, runs driven in, on base percentage and on base plus slugging.
Let’s start with the two most important: Runs scored and RBI. Thanks in large part to his 59 long balls; Stanton has Votto beat in both of these. Giancarlo crossed home 123 times compared to Votto’s 106 and drove in 139 in contrast to Votto’s 100, despite Votto reaching base 60 times more than Stanton.
On base and on base plus slugging show how often a player gets on base and how much damage they do when the put the ball in play. Votto lead the majors in OBP with a mark of .454, compared to the .376 Stanton put up. Votto’s 1.032 OPS led the National League, preceding Stanton at 1.007.
With both men taking two of the four categories, it’s tough to tell who should have taken the MVP. Votto was the model of consistency, producing all year long under the radar for the lowly Reds. Stanton had a slow start and then exploded with a home run boom half way through the season.
While both of these men are very deserving of the award, Joey Votto should have taken the MVP award home with him.
He combines both power, run producing and reaching base better than any one in the league. Not knocking Stanton, he had a fantastic season and is very deserving, but Joey Votto had a better overall season. The writers went with the long ball and not the consistency in the National League.
Altuve v. Judge
That was not the case over to the American League side of things. Jose Altuve ran away with the Most Valuable Player honors while Aaron Judge finished in second place.
Altuve led the Major Leagues in hitting with 204 hits and a .346 average. He clubbed 24 home runs and drove in 81 RBI. Judge, on the other hand, led the American league in runs with 128, home runs with 52 and walks with 127. He slashed .284/.422/.627 during his rookie campaign.
For the voting, Altuve collected 27 of the 30 first place votes, good for 405 total points. Judge got two first place votes and tallied 279 total points. Jose Ramirez of the Indians received the other first place vote and finished in third with 237 points.
Going back to the four categories (runs, RBI, OBP and OPS), Judge has Altuve beat in all four categories. Judge scored 128 times, 14 more than Altuve. His 114 runs batted in have Altuve beat by 33. Judge’s .422 OBP is slightly above Altuve’s .410 mark, and his 1.049 slugging blows Altuve’s .957 out of the water.
The biggest argument people bring against Aaron Judge are his strikeouts. His 208 led the Major Leagues, despite him reaching base more than Altuve. Judge made a total of 388 outs in 2017 while reaching base 281 times between hits and walks. Altuve made 386 outs in 2017, while only reaching base 262 times. At the end of the day, a strikeout is an out and should be held to the same standard as a ground out or flyout.
So how did Altuve run away with the voting when Judge reached base more than him, made essentially the same amount of outs, drove in more runs and scored more runs?
Altuve was more consistent through out the season, with Judge disappearing after the All Star Break. His massive slump really set him back and tarnished his MVP chances early. Jose Altuve had a phenomenal season and was robbed of an MVP award in 2016, so this might have been the writers chance to redeem themselves.
The MVP award voting in 2017 was a bit hypocritical.
They gave a home run hitter and run scorer and producer the award in the National League, while snubbing the high average guy. In the American League, high average guy got the award while the home run hitter, run scored and producer got left in the dust.
Both winners and runner-ups had unbelievable seasons and left the writers with a tough choice. But their voting was backwards and a bit of favoritism was shown in giving this award out.
Consistency in their voting would only be fair to the players and hopefully the voting style can be modified in the future.