Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has been quietly been at an MVP level for the past few seasons. And by quietly, I mean he plays in Houston which is apparently a black hole national media.
Altuve entered the 2017 season as a two-time batting champion (2014, 2016) and he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting the past two season (10th in ‘15 and 3rd in 2016).
The Venezuelan product is batting in the three-hole for arguably the most powerful offense in majors. Entering the Phillies series, the Astros were No.1 in runs scored per game (5.93), OPS+ (136), and wRC+ (130).
Judge is a rookie
Altuve is the force that makes the Astros go. He currently leads the majors in fWAR* (5.5) and recently passed rookie phenom Aaron Judge (5.4). "Rookie” is the key word for Judge, who has helped the Yankees get back on the national stage. The Rookie of the Year can already be engraved with Judge’s name even if he stopped playing today.
Judge has been slipping (batting .242) while Altuve has been surging during the month of July.
Altuve has been historic
Altuve is currently batting .507 during the month of July. That fact alone is mind boggling. .5.....0....7. He is getting a hit half of the times he comes up to bat. He currently has a 16-game hitting streak and he has 12 multi-hit games during that stretch.
Altuve currently leads the league with 138 hits. He is second in batting average (.365) behind only Justin Turner. He is second in the AL in doubles (30), OBP (.431) and OPS (1.005), and third in stolen bases (21).
The Astros second baseman is second to Judge in a few categories. But it makes a difference the position he plays, for example, the last two time a second baseman finished a season with an OPS over 1.000 they won the MVP (Jeff Kent, 2000; Joe Morgan; 1976) — pointed out David Schoenfield.
The Astros have been historic
The Houston Astros are currently on pace offensively. Altuve is the ahead of historic offense that is currently 4th in MLB history (7.29) for average runs per game on the road. Behind the 1939 Yankees (7.80), 1930 Yankees (7.58) and 1936 Yankees (7.35). The Astros are on par with teams that had Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.
Want to guess what Altuve is batting on the road to help with this success? .433. Through 180 at-bats away from Minute Maid Park, Altuve is batting almost .450.
Not to forget, the Astros have already put away the AL West title and lead the AL with a 66-33 record.
Mike Trout has been far and away the best player in the AL for much of his professional career. But he was on the shelf for seven weeks (with the same injury as Carlos Correa) hurting his case for his third MVP award.
But Altuve hold off Judge, Mookie Betts (4.5 fWAR), and Chris Sale (6.1 fWAR) for the title?
I would have said no in the past but Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Correa winning awards in 2015 has broken the seal on the Houston media void.
*Psss. The Astros also have two other players in the Top 10 for fWar: Carlos Correa and George Springer tied at No. 8 (4.0). The Astros are pretty good.