HOUSTON -- As the best player on the best team in baseball, Jose Altuve's case for the American League Most Valuable Player Award is convincing.Altuve, who made his fifth All-Star team in 2017, won his third career and second consecutive batting title while leading the Major Leagues with a .346
HOUSTON -- As the best player on the best team in baseball, Jose Altuve's case for the American League Most Valuable Player Award is convincing.
Altuve, who made his fifth All-Star team in 2017, won his third career and second consecutive batting title while leading the Major Leagues with a .346 average. He also led the AL in hits (204) and become the first player in Major League history to be the outright leader in hits in his league in four consecutive seasons.
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The 5-foot-5 second baseman also walloped 24 regular-season homers, drove in 81 runs and stole 32 bases. He led the AL in multihit games (59) and led the Majors in games with at least three hits (23). He also ranked first in the AL in infield hits (35), tied for second in runs (112), third in on-base percentage (.410), third in stolen bases, third in OPS (.957), fifth in total bases (323), sixth in slugging percentage (.547) and tied for ninth in doubles (39).
Altuve hit third in the Astros' lineup -- ahead of Carlos Correa -- but when Correa was on the disabled list from July 19 to Sept. 3, following thumb ligament surgery, Altuve stepped up. He batted .384 with a 1.1015 OPS in the 40 games Correa missed.
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Perhaps what separates Altuve is consistency.
Altuve hit .347 in the first half and .344 in the second half. He hit .353 against left-handers and .344 vs. right-handers. Altuve hit .342 with the bases empty and .350 with runners on base. He hit .338 against starters and .363 against relievers. And he hit .357 on fastballs and .332 on offspeed pitches.
"Well, I don't know any more ways to describe Jose other than he's as close to perfect as you can imagine as a manager," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He does everything right. And I've used this before, but he's every bit what's right about our team and our organization, and he represents so much of what we do. His consistency is second to none in the big leagues. It's why I believe he's the MVP of the [American] League. ...
"So we're hard to beat when he's right, and he's right a lot of days. The hits are real. The defense is real. The presence that he's starting to grow into as a leader, albeit a quiet one, is felt by all of us, whether it's players, coaches, organization and the whole city of Houston."
You watch clutch? Altuve led the Majors with a .441 batting average in close and late situations. He also hit .361 from the seventh inning on and .342 with two out. Want more? Altuve led the Majors with a .421 batting average in Interleague Play, and he led the Majors with a .381 batting average on the road.
"For me, he's the MVP," Correa said. "Everybody knows that. He was the best player all year long. He was the most consistent all year long. He can do everything to make the team better."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.