Astros: Jose Altuve and A.J. Hinch up for BBWAA awards
By Eric Huysman
After winning the World Series in 2017, Hinch and Altuve up for awards.
The Houston Astros are coming off their first Championship in franchise history. There were many reasons that they won 101 games, including the rise of Brad Peacock, Yuli Gurriel, and Marwin Gonzalez. Some would say that Gurriel should have been a top three finishers for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Yuli didn’t make the ROY finalist.
The Baseball Writers Association released the top three candidates for each award. Since I already brought up the ROY award, who were the top three candidates? Some guy named Aaron Judge, Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini, and Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
No offense to the other two, but Judge’s WAR, according to Baseball-Reference, had him soaring over the other two. Judge’s WAR is 8.1, while Mancini has a 2.2 WAR compared to Benintendi’s 2.6 WAR. Gurriel’s WAR was 2.6 as well, but maybe his age and he’s barely a rookie caused him to not to finish in the top three.
AL MVP award will be a close one.
At one point of the season, George Springer was showing signs of a possible MVP candidate. Carlos Correa was doing the same before he missed six weeks with his thumb injury. One player who wasn’t looking good at the beginning of the season was Jose Altuve. He was striking out at a career-high rate through the first week of the season.
Then he realized that he was Jose Altuve, and he’s pretty good. While Springer and Correa both missed time this year, Altuve was still smiling at second base every day doing what he loves to do. Altuve played in 153 games this year and hit a league-high .346. A.J. Hinch rested him from time to time to keep him healthy, where we saw him hit seven postseason homers this October.
Postseason numbers don’t count, but there is little doubt that Altuve was the best player this year in the AL. While many people would say the AL MVP has to go to Judge, he struggled during July and August, before heating back up. His participation in the home run derby could have gotten him in a funk. He was able to lead the Yankees to the ALCS.
The AL MVP candidates.
Altuve and his 8.3 WAR is better than Judge’s 8.1 according to Baseball-Reference. However, ESPN’s WAR has Judge ahead of Altuve. Could there be any bias there? Just curious, I thought WAR was the same from site to site. Joining the big two in the AL MVP race is Jose Ramirez of the 22 wins in a row Indians.
While it’s impressive what Judge was able to do as a rookie, he struck out too much to be an MVP. He is the best rookie player in the AL this year and has a bright future, but Altuve equals consistency. Ramirez is a good third candidate, but it comes down to Judge and Altuve.
Is Hinch the best manager in the AL?
Earlier I mentioned how Hinch rested Altuve to keep him fresh late in the season. He did the same with most of the regulars on the team, which is how Gonzalez drove in 91 runs as a utility guy. Hinch has dealt with three major injuries this year in the rotation with Collin McHugh. Lance McCullers, and Dallas Keuchel. Correa and Springer missed significant time as well.
Hinch has taken an 86-win team in 2016 to a 101 game winner in the AL West. While Hinch is not perfect, he has shown the faith in his players throughout the season. Some might question how he handled the pitching staff this year, but they just win no matter what.
Hinch is up against Terry Francona of the Indians and Paul Monitor of the Twins for the AL Manager of the Year. Francona will get some votes with the Indians winning 102 games and the 22-game winning streak. Monitor will get some votes because who the heck saw the Twins making the playoffs?
Next: Astros: Altuve, Springer, and Bregman appear on SNL
Like Hinch in 2015, Monitor will get some votes for that reason, but it’s between Hinch and Francona. My prediction is the Hinch and Altuve will win their respective awards, but anything can happen.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and ESPN***