Dr. Doom here (via Doug) with our final 2017 awards-voting post. I decided to “save the best for last,” as it were, so we could talk about what may be the most interesting and competitive race in the league.
The American League in 2017 was interesting in that there were only five winning teams in the league. There was one good pennant race (the East) and two dominant, 100-win teams. Oh, and the Twins scheduled their (formerly annual) playoff loss to the Yankees.
Before moving on to the other candidates, let’s all just bask in the glory of Mike Trout. No, he didn’t play a full season. But he mashed 33 HR and swiped 22 bags, one of only three 20-20 players (Altuve and Betts were the others). Somehow, Trout scored 92 R in only 114 G, managed to walk 94 times – third in the league, and paced the junior circuit in OBP. SLG. OPS and OPS+.
Let’s look next to one of the most fun players in baseball today – Francisco Lindor. Lindor led the AL in plate appearances, banged out 44 doubles (tied for fourth in the league) and hit 33 HR… all while playing just about the best SS in the AL. He also had the fourth-most TB in the AL with 329, only 14 behind league leader Jose Abreu.
Lindor’s partner on the left side of the infield was Jose Ramirez. Ramirez led the league with 56 doubles, while scoring 107 runs. His 341 TB were second in the league, and he had the third-highest batting average (.318) AND slugging percentage (.583) in the league, the only player to finish in the top three in both categories.
Mookie Betts followed up last year’s MVP runner-up season with a second All-Star campaign, this one featuring totals of 46 doubles, 29 HR, 102 RBI and 77 walks. Besides being one of only three players with a 20-20 season, Betts was also one of only three players to both score and knock in 100 runs (Justin Upton and Aaron Judge were the others). Betts rounded out those offensive credentials with a second straight gold glove selection for the repeat division-winning Red Sox.
Remember this generation’s Mark Belanger, the great all-field, no-hit Andrelton Simmons? Well… what do you have when he learns to hit? Simmons set career highs in R, H, 2B, RBI, SB, BB OBP, SLG and WAR in his first full season of a 100 OPS+. Simmons’ 7.1 WAR pushed his career total to 28.6, the 5th highest total by a shortstop over the first 6 seasons of a career (the top four are named Vaughan, Hornsby, Ripken and Banks).
World Series hero George Springer finished seventh in the league with 144 OPS+, slashed .283/.367/.522, blasted 34 HR, and scored 112 runs, the last ranking second in the league and tied with teammate Jose Altuve. For the second year in a row, 9 of Springer’s home runs came in the first inning as the leadoff batter, just the second player since 1950 with two such seasons – Quiz: who was the first player to do this?
Jose Altuve, of course, won the 2017 AL MVP as the league batting champion with a .346 average from 204 hits (1st), third place marks in OBP (.410), OPS (.957) and OPS+ (164), and a 6th best .547 SLG to join Mike Trout as the AL’s only .300/.400/.500 hitters. Oh, and he added 32 stolen bases (3rd, two behind leader Whit Merrifield). For the fourth straight year, Altuve logged 200 hits, 35 doubles and 30 stolen bases; no other player has as many such seasons in a career, consecutively or otherwise.
The last person we should discuss is rookie sensation, Aaron Judge. Although the same age as Mike Trout, Judge just made it to the bigs full time this season, but did so about as well as anyone ever has. Judge was second in OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. He led the league in R with 128, and his 127 walks were 23 more than anyone else. Judge’s 114 RBI were second to Nelson Cruz. And, of course, there have only been 11 seasons of 52+ HR by AL players from 1962 to the present; the most recent, and first ever by a rookie, belongs to Judge.
There were plenty of other interesting hitters in 2017; Lorenzo Cain (a personal favorite) was again excellent; Nelson Cruz was mashing all over the place; Jose Abreu keeps hitting like a boss; Marwin Gonzalez might have an MVP case… you know, if he weren’t the fourth-best player on his own team; and who knew that Justin Upton still had some pop left in that bat of his? Plus, Byron Buxton took a really big step forward.
Now, since we already did the Cy Young, I’m not going to belabor the pitchers; please refer to that earlier post and read my nonsense and the insightful comments of our wonderful community to decide if and where they belong on your ballot. Now get voting, so we can see who the HHS AL MVP for 2017 is!
DIRECTIONS: Please list 10 players on your MVP ballot in a NEW comment below (ballots with fewer than 10 candidates will be thrown out; I ask for a new comment because it’s easy to lose one if it’s in a reply, especially since we got rid of numbered comments). Ballots will be scored as per BBWAA scoring (14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Strategic voting is discouraged, though that’s unenforceable, so please just don’t do it, as the goal here is to (somewhat) mimic the BBWAA process. The post will be live for about a week; I will comment shortly after the post goes live to tell you when ballots are due. Please discuss and vote whenever you’d like, but there will be NO vote changes, so don’t vote until you’re sure you’re ready!