The Houston Astros just completed a thorough dismantling of the Cleveland Indians, prompting Jeff Sullivan to label it an “all-time beating.” The lopsided outcome was the Astros’ first postseason series sweep in franchise history, and, as Sullivan astutely pointed out, featured the largest differential between two clubs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS in playoff history (that’s 308 series).
To celebrate, we’re doling out hypothetical hardware to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in the Astros-Indians Division Series. Below are the nominees:
Bregman led the Astros in BA (.556), OBP (.714), SLG (1.333), OPS (2.048!), Runs (5) and BB (4) in the series. Oh, and he only struck out once. Bregman had an extra-base hit in every game—fitting, because he ranked second in the AL in that category during the regular season—and George Springer said Bregman’s homer to get the run-scoring started for the Astros in Game 1 was an “ice-breaker.”
Bregman reached base in all three at-bats against “Tyler” Bauer in the series and produced run-scoring hits in two of them. He played superb defense for the Astros at third base as well and, as always, led the league in “swag.”
Marwin had the most hits (7), RBI (5), and Win Probability Added (0.50) of any Astro in the Division Series. Gonzalez was also clutch, twice recording extra-base hits—a two-run double in the sixth inning of Game 2 (31% increase in WPA) and another in the seventh of Game 3 (22% increase in WPA)—that provided Houston with a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. That two-run, go-ahead double in Game 3 was the highest pitch on which Marwin recorded a base hit this season (4.22 feet), according to Statcast (seriously, that thing was at his head). It effectively sucked the life out of the Indians and Progressive Field. After a season described by A.J. Hinch as “up-and-down,” it’s great to see Marwin find his groove when it matters most.
Cole delivered one of the most dominant postseason pitching performances in club history in Game 2 (which I wrote about here). His 12-strikeout, zero-walk masterpiece is the second-highest Game Score (79) so far this postseason and there’s only been one other postseason start quite like it—by Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver. Cole’s outing was especially important because it came in the tightest game of the series. As such, Cole had the highest WPA (0.28) of any pitcher on either team (Carlos Carrasco was second at 0.23), and he enabled the Astros to take a commanding 2-0 lead into Cleveland.
Springer led the ‘Stros with 3 home runs in the Division Series and now has the most postseason homers in club history (10). Springer has hit eight longballs in his last nine playoff games to tie a record shared by Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome, and Carlos Beltran. As George goes, the Astros offense goes, and he did a nice job setting the table for the rest of the lineup with his thump and ability to get on base (.429 OBP, 2 K’s).
The Astros bullpen was dominant in this series. Houston relievers allowed only one run in 9.2 innings pitched and permitted just one hit through the first 7.2 innings of relief. Ryan Pressly did a nice job escaping a bases-loaded jam with minimal damage in Game 1 and Roberto Osuna notched two saves. Collin McHugh tossed two perfect frames—with four strikeouts on just 21 pitches—in Game 3 to keep the Indians at bay. The Astros used only five relievers across the three-game set; the Indians used five different relievers in Game 3 alone.
The Award Goes To…
There’s currently no way to quantify “swagger,” but Bregman provides that on a nightly basis for the ‘Stros, and he did so again in this series. He got the scoring started for Houston and even took care of a personal vendetta against Bauer. Every team needs a player or two whose demeanor keeps the club loose and confident. I’ll choose Bregman, with Gonzalez not far behind.
Because the candidates are aplenty, we also asked TheoHCH to share his selection for ALDS MVP. Here’s Theo’s pick, and why:
“Picking an MVP from this Division Series was tough, with so many guys putting up strong performances. Four different guys posted WPA figures of greater than 0.25. Cole’s 12-strikeout, 0-walk outing was pretty historic. Springer picked up where he left off last year and launched 3 home runs. Bregman posted two homers of his own while carrying an OPS of 2.048.
But in the end, I just narrowly had to give my vote to Gonzalez. Marwin wound up leading the team in WPA with 0.51 (just ahead of Bregman’s 0.48), which will happen when you knock in the go-ahead runs in two of the three games. Coming through in those situations made the difference to me. Plus, it didn’t hurt that he hit .538/.571/.692 overall, including a 4-4 Game Two that saw him account for nearly half of the team’s hits.”
What do you think, Crawfish Boxes? Was it Bregman, Marwin, or someone else that should garner ALDS MVP honors? Let us know in the poll and comments below.
Who was the ALDS MVP?
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