A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME

How MLB media's Astros disrespect has reached another level

How MLB media's Astros disrespect has reached another level
Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve would like to have a word. Composite image by Jack Brame.

I’ve never bought into Houston fans’ grievance that the national media, even after all of the Astros success in recent years, still doesn’t give the Astros any respect.

I’m starting to believe it now. Two examples from the past week. And they’re lulus.

MLB.com released a list of players who could become first-time MVP Award winners this year. Let’s have a look:

Ronald Acuna Jr.

Marcus Semien

Vlad Guerrero

Jose Ramirez

Matt Chapman

Juan Soto

Nolan Arenado

Pete Alonso

Francisco Lindor

Manny Machado.

Hmm, did MLB forget someone? No need to file a missing person’s report. It’s Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez. Here’s where I could say, whoa, isn’t Alvarez having a better year than some of those guys.

But I won’t. I’m saying Alvarez is having a better year than all of ‘em. Yordan is batting .284 with 14 homers and 48 RBI. Don’t tell me that Alvarez is a DH and maybe that’s why he’s not on the list. Alvarez has played more than half of his games in left field.

The best of the bunch who did make MLB’s list is Acuna Jr. of the Braves. He’s batting .327 but trails Alvarez in homers (11) and RBI (30).

The Rangers’ Semien is having a terrific year hitting .298. But he, too, is behind Alvarez in dingers (8) and RBI (44). Mets crusher Pete Alonso is leading baseball with 20 homers, but he’s behind Alvarez is batting average (.242) and RBI (46). Yes, I still believe in batting average.

Some of the players on the list, frankly, this must be some sort of joke.

Padres third baseman Machado is having a total suck season, hitting .231 with five homers and 19 RBI. Mets shortstop Lindor … seriously? He’s batting .225 with nine homers and 39 RBI.

Except for Acuna Jr. and Alonso, nobody on the list has double-digit home runs.

Alvarez is the most frightening hitter in baseball. And clutch? Remember last year, Game 6 of the World Series against the Phillies, and Game 1 of the Divisional Series against the Mariners?

Alvarez shouldn’t just be on the list. He should be No. 1. You realize, MLB, you can look this stuff up.

Then Jayson Stark of The Athletic added insult to injury (and the Astros don’t need any more injuries) by coming up with his list of “Which active players are on track for baseball’s Hall of Fame?”

He broke it down into seven levels: In right now, in the Red Zone, on a path, I wish there was a path, get back to me in five years, used to be in the Red Zone, and case not closed.

Hard to argue with most of surefire “in right now” candidates who already have the credentials for Cooperstown: Mike Trout, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, Zack Grienke and Joey Votto.

But here’s my gripe: if Votto is a lock for the Hall of Fame, why isn’t Jose Altuve on the list? And where is Altuve anywhere?

He’s down in Tier 3, “on a path,” according to Stark.

As high school history teachers are fond of saying, let’s compare and contrast.

Joey Votto has played 16 years, all with the Cincinnati Reds. That’s commendable. He has a solid .297 career batting average and 2093 total hits. He made six All-Star teams and won an MVP Award in 2010. No Silver Sluggers, though.

Jose Altuve has played 13 years, all with the Astros. His career batting average is .307 with 1946 career hits. He has made eight All-Star teams and won an MVP in 2017. He’s won six Silver Slugger Awards.

Altuve is far from done. He’s 33 years old and batting .355 this season. Votto is 39 and pondering retirement. He is recovering from shoulder surgery and currently is on the team’s injured list. He hasn’t appeared in a single game so far this season. He batted .205 in 91 games last year.

Here’s where Altuve leaves Votto in the dust and is clearly a more deserving prospect for Cooperstown: the postseason. It’s championships that count.

Votto has played in four playoff series. The Reds lost all of them. He has 10 hits in 41 at bats for a .244 average. No home runs. One RBI. No National League pennants, no World Series titles.

Altuve is a postseason monster. Altuve has played in 19 playoff series, hit .271 with 23 homers and 49 RBI. During his time with the Astros, the team has won five American League West titles, four American League pennants and two World Series titles.

So you’re telling me that Votto’s in … and Altuve’s only on a path? Stark may want to go back and check his – and Votto’s and Altuve’s – facts.

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Let's make a deal! Composite Getty Image.

The MLB trade deadline is right around the corner, and the Astros have already been linked to several intriguing names across baseball.

Astros GM Dana Brown has reportedly been in conversations with the Mets about first baseman Pete Alonso and pitcher Luis Severino, according to The Athletic's Jim Bowden.

Bowden is also reporting that Brown has asked about Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker, Cubs first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, and White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet.

Considering the Astros' needs, pitching appears to be the club's top priority, with Justin Verlander still on the IL and Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers not guaranteed to contribute this season.

While it would be nice to upgrade at first base, Jon Singleton and Mauricio Dubon have done a decent job since Jose Abreu was released earlier this year.

The other factor to consider is which teams will actually be sellers at the deadline. It's hard to believe the Mets and Diamondbacks will be looking to sell based on their records at the All Star break. New York currently holds the third wild card spot, and the D-Backs are only a game behind them.

Be sure to watch the video above as we examine which players would be the best fit for Houston, what they would have to give up in the trade, the likelihood of getting a deal done, and much more!

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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