There have been many fall-outs since the discovery of the the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. More recently, we can look back on the failure of an apology by the organization and its players, and even a usually ho-hum Mike Trout saying he’s “lost respect” for the Astros. The whole situation has been an utter mess throughout.
Trout wasn’t the only player to speak out against the Astros. Guys like Nick Markakis, Gleyber Torres, and even LeBron James have all offered their thoughts on the matter. While most people looked at the big picture of the scandal, it was the “smaller” things that got lost in the shuffle. It wasn’t until a prominent figure like the reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger came out and spoke his mind on Jose Altuve’s 2017 MVP award.
“I think what people don’t realize is (Jose) Altuve stole an MVP from (Aaron) Judge in ’17.” -Cody Bellinger
Together, Aaron Judge and Bellinger were voted as unanimous Rookies of the Year in 2017, and according to the Dodgers star, they both should have an MVP on their resumes as well.
If Bellinger wasn’t already a big enough name, how about hearing from the 2015 NL MVP and $330-million man, Bryce Harper?
“Guys like Aaron Judge going through 2017 and absolutely killing it that year, and he gets beat out by a great player in (Jose) Altuve. It’s just guys like that that really miss out on things.” -Bryce Harper
We’ve now gotten quotes from a couple of baseball’s biggest starts, but how about hearing from the man himself? Here’s what Judge had to say regarding the situation:
“With Bellinger, man, I agree with a lot of the things he said. He went out there and spoke his mind. I really don’t want to get into the whole if Altuve stole the MVP or not [because] that really don’t matter; it’s over with,’’ Judge said. “The biggest thing is, I got to make sure next time I don’t keep the votes so close, I guess, try to go out there and win it outright, so there’s no question. So he won it, and that’s how it is.’’
He tried to make light of the circumstance, but it seems like it was definitely something that’s crossed his mind a few times. In fact, when the news first broke in November about the scandal, Judge deleted his congratulatory Instagram post to Altuve from 2017.
Let’s put opinions and emotions aside and get down to the facts. Aaron Judge doesn’t deserve the MVP award because a couple players think he should. He deserved the MVP because his numbers were flat out better, and, well, Altuve and the Astros cheated. According to signstealingscandal.com, he used the banging scheme during 2.8 percent of at-bats throughout the season. That might not seem like a lot or be as high as some of his teammates, but it’s more than zero. Plus, a player hitting with players that got on base while cheating, and hitting in front of players cheating, could stand to benefit from said cheating.
Altuve won the honor by a landslide. He received 27 first-place votes compared to Judge’s two tallies. Altuve slashed a .346/.410/.547 line. Judge hit to a .284/.422/.627 line. In a day in age where batting average has taken a lesser role in the game, Judge has a clear leg-up in a straightforward slash-line comparison. Now that we know their three basic stats at the plate, let’s get a bit more advanced for another side-by-side comparison.
Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve’s 2017 Stats
Looking at the table above, I’m not sure how the voters picked Altuve, especially by such a wide margin. I guess batting average and strikeouts (and team success) might have swayed them one way.
Judge wasn’t only superior with the bat either. His defense was better than that of Altuve’s as well. Judge racked up nine defensive runs saved in right field, which was in the top-10 among all outfielders. Altuve was credited with just three DRS at second base. Using an even more sophisticated stat to calculate defense, Judge had 10 outs above average per Statcast, while Altuve had three.
Judge has more impressive numbers in nearly every category. Altuve compiled his numbers during a tainted season. Add it all up, and the verdict is clear: Aaron Judge should have won the 2017 AL MVP. Some people may just shrug this off as a minor effect in a big scandal, but not having an MVP under his belt hurts Judge in more than one way. He can’t say he was the best player and the MVP during arbitration, thus losing out on what could have been a raise in salary. The Houston Astros cheating scandal has negatively affected fans, players, and most importantly, the game of baseball. This whole process is far from over.