The 2017 MLB season came to a thrilling conclusion on Wednesday, with the Houston Astros beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series that featured a couple of classic games that won't soon be forgotten.
With the season's champion settled, the MLB's last order of business for the 2017 campaign is revealing the major end-of-season award winners. Per MLB.com, the Gold Glovers, Silver Sluggers and many more of the most deserving players will get their recognition over the next several days.
On November 16, the league's MVPs will be revealed, and it will likely show the voters had some tough choices to make. The latest odds, according to OddsShark, are from August 31. They showed the Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton with the best chances in the National League and the Astros' Jose Altuve pacing the American League. That was with a full month left in the regular season, so the resumes were far from finalized.
Let's run down the top contenders for both leagues, with odds based on personal estimations on which player is most likely to win the MVP in each league.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros: 3-2
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees: 11-6
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels: 50-1
Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Cleveland Indians: 75-1
When it comes to Altuve and Aaron Judge, these odds can be flipped, shaved down or adjusted about any way you like so long as they end up as pretty much a dead heat.
Altuve proved to be an all-around force in helping lead Houston to the second-best record in the majors and eventually a World Series title. His .346/.410/.547 slash line demonstrates his status as one of the toughest outs in the league, and he packed plenty of punch to go along with his controlled bat work. Altuve smacked 24 home runs and 81 RBI and was a menace on the base path, with 32 steals.
Judge's power numbers (52 home runs, 114 RBI, .627 slugging percentage) dwarf those of Altuve, but he did strike out an astounding 208 times. That said, his 127 walks alleviated those potential on-base woes, as he ended up with a higher on-base percentage (.422) than Altuve. Judge's numbers are also made all the more impressive by the fact he accomplished them as a rookie. His 52 home runs represent an MLB rookie record.
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The advanced stats don't do much to separate either of these two franchise cornerstones, per The Ringer's Michael Baumann:
"Baseball-Reference has Altuve rated better by about half a win, Baseball Prospectus likes Judge by about half a win, and FanGraphs has the two about the same. Given two players of similar value, I'll take the up-the-middle guy, but given how flashy his first half was and the fact that he plays in New York, it wouldn't shock me if Judge became the third rookie, after Fred Lynn and Ichiro, to win the AL MVP award."
It's a razor-thin margin between these two, but what may eventually separate Altuve is the value he provided at second base. An accomplished fielder, his numbers are especially valuable for a player busy vacuuming up grounders and turning double plays. Judge plays a slick right field, but power numbers are to be expected from a giant corner outfielder.
Judge's status as a rookie could also hurt him. Some voters may feel that in a race this close, it's better to give it to the veteran Altuve before his time in the spotlight runs out. Judge, just 25 and playing in the spotlight of New York City, will likely contend for MVP for years to come. If he doesn't get it this year, there could well be a season when he makes it impossible to vote against him.
Two-time MVP Mike Trout may get a couple of votes in a distant third, but he played just 114 games in 2017. He led the AL in OBP (.442) and slugging (.629), but his raw numbers (33 home runs, 72 RBI and 123 hits) just don't stack up this year.
Jose Ramirez (29 home runs, 83 RBI and a whopping 56 doubles) was a key part of the Cleveland Indians' remarkable winning streak toward the end of the season, but he will likely split accolades with teammates Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins: 3-1
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks: 4-1
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds: 6-1
Nolan Arenado 3B, Colorado Rockies: 25-1
While the American League MVP race is shaping up to be a showdown between Altuve and Judge, the National League voting stands to be a bit more egalitarian.
Paul Goldschmidt did it all playing first base for the Arizona Diamondbacks this year, hitting 36 home runs and driving in 120 RBI while stealing 18 bases and posting a .563 slugging percentage. He also rated highly in the defensive aspects of the game.
While Goldschmidt's credentials are excellent, the New York Times' Tyler Kepner believes Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto (36 home runs, 100 RBI) deserves the award ahead of him:
"As tempting as it is then to endorse Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt, another first baseman, Cincinnati's Joey Votto, stands above the rest. Votto and Goldschmidt have both topped .300 in average, .400 in on-base percentage and .500 in slugging percentage — but Votto was higher in all three, while playing more games and reaching base about 50 more times. Goldschmidt runs better, but both rank among the best fielders at first."
Goldschmidt actually finished a shade under .300, with a .297 average, but the point still stands. What may work in his favor this year is the Diamondbacks' success as a team.
He helped push the D-backs to the National League Division Series, while the likes of Votto's Reds and Stanton's Miami Marlins came nowhere near the postseason. The MVP is an individual award, but the aura of a winning team may tip a few voters in Goldschmidt's favor.
But there's still the case of Stanton's staggering output. His mammoth power numbers make for a pretty convincing argument, especially hitting in the Marlins' pitcher-friendly stadium.
Stanton smacked 59 home runs and drove in 132 RBI. His .631 slugging percentage easily led the National League, and he's already garnered recognition for his offensive output with the 2017 Hank Aaron Award, given to the league's most outstanding offensive players and determined by a panel vote, per the Sun-Sentinel's Tim Healey.
It will be hard to argue with any of these three players for NL MVP, and cases could also be made for the Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado or Charlie Blackmon. Stanton's power numbers are hard to fathom and harder to duplicate. Since he's not facing a fantastic middle infielder for MVP consideration like Judge is, Stanton stands to be the towering power hitter who brings home some coveted hardware.