AL MVP

Astros star Jose Altuve wins American League MVP award

Jose Altuve takes home his first MVP award. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After much anticipation, it's official: Jose Altuve is your American League Most Valuable Player for 2017. Minute Maid Park will get to continue to chant "MVP!" into the 2018 season when their best player steps up to the plate. 

It should be no surprise that Altuve was able to claim one of the league's top honors for this season, at least for anyone outside of New York who was probably feeling strongly about Aaron Judge after his stellar rookie year. 

Jose had an outstanding regular season, a career year, in fact. He led the AL in hits with 204, making it his fourth straight 200-hit season, and finished with an incredible .346 batting average to earn his third batting title. In addition to the best batting average of his career thus far, Altuve also had his best on-base percentage (.410), slugging percentage (.547) for a combined .957 slugging plus on-base percentage which was third in the AL. 

Altuve was second in the league in runs scored at 112 and in stolen bases at 32. He was also second in WAR, wins above replacement, at 7.9 games, a pretty telling number that shows that without him, the Astros would've been a totally different team. 

He was also solid on the defensive side of the ball, finishing fifth among AL second basemen in fielding percentage at .982 and fourth in assists at 351 while committing 10 errors on the year. 

All in all, even though the postseason is not considered in the MVP voting, Jose's remarkable year was definitely one of the driving forces that led the Astros to their first championship in franchise history. 

It's hard to say if Altuve still would've been named MVP if Judge hadn't had his second-half slump, or if Trout hadn't been sidelined for a chunk of the season, but there's no question that all things considered Altuve deserved to be in the running, and it's no surprise he won this year and should continue to be a contender for years to come. 

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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