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Jose Altuve will outlast Aaron Judge to win 2017 American League MVP.

September 26, 2017

1. Jose Altuve, Astros

2. Aaron Judge, Yankees

3. Francisco Lindor, Indians

4. Mike Trout, Angels

5. Jose Ramirez, Indians

6. Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox

7. Jonathan Schoop, Orioles

8. Andrelton Simmons, Angels

9. Mookie Betts, Red Sox

10. Nelson Cruz, Mariners

Judge closed the gap with a monster September, but it’s not quite enough to seize the award from Altuve, who has been remarkably consistent (.968 OPS in first half, .967 in second half) and helped win games in so many ways. Altuve has stolen 32 bases while slugging .555—thresholds reached by only a handful of other players in the past 94 years (Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco and Paul Molitor).

Said Houston hitting coach Dave Hudgens, “He’s the only player I’ve been around who I think sometimes can will himself to get a hit.”

The numbers help define such resourcefulness. Check out these comparisons between Altuve and Judge (MLB ranking based on minimum 30 PA):

Category Altuve (MLB Rank) Judge (MLB Rank)
Late & Close .448 (1st) .215 (186th)
Vs. Relievers .369 (2nd) .261 (171st)
High Leverage .337 (29th) .211 (299th)
RISP .310 (79th) .259 (204th)
Two Outs, RISP .235 (160th) .219 (188th)

Of course, Altuve is a great contact hitter who is going to out-shine Judge, a swing-and-miss power hitter, in most any batting average splits. Judge changes games with one swing—and often early in the game. This is meant not to knock Judge, but to show how difficult an out Altuve has been.

This vote will not be unanimous. This will be much closer than how it looked one month ago. Judge is worthy of his own first-place votes. Even in his worst month, August, he took his walks and posted a .353 OBP. He reached base more times this year than Altuve. And with massive home/road splits, he hit more home runs in the Bronx (31) than any Yankee in history, trailing only Babe Ruth’s 32 homers at Manhattan’s Polo Grounds in 1921 as the most ever at home by a Yankee.

Altuve, by the way, had the highest OPS on the road of any major leaguer.

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