HOUSTON -- The chants of "M-V-P!" began ringing through Minute Maid Park in the second half of the season when it was becoming clear the best hitter on the best team in baseball was having the best season of his career.A banner year in which the Astros won their first
HOUSTON -- The chants of "M-V-P!" began ringing through Minute Maid Park in the second half of the season when it was becoming clear the best hitter on the best team in baseball was having the best season of his career.
A banner year in which the Astros won their first World Series and saw former National League Most Valuable Player Jeff Bagwell inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame was taken to greater heights Thursday, when second baseman Jose Altuve was named American League MVP.
:: AL Most Valuable Player voting totals ::
"It's an honor to be MVP, but I really have to say the fans back in Houston and my teammates made me an MVP this season," Altuve said from Miami, where he awaited the results with his family.
Altuve, who joins Bagwell as the only MVPs in the franchise's 56-year history, finished first in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well ahead of Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton took home the honor for the National League, getting the nod by the narrowest of margins over Joey Votto.
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"I can't think of anything better to cap off the year for us," Bagwell told MLB.com. "Jose, he's all that's good in baseball. A kid that gives everything he has, has fun doing it, a total team player that makes it fun to watch baseball. It's exciting. He's just special. Everybody makes a big deal about his size, but you never take away his heart. He plays as hard as anybody and he's just fun to watch. I can't tell you how proud I am of him. It makes you feel good."
Altuve garnered 27 of a possible 30 first-place votes for a runaway win over Judge, the AL Rookie of the Year, had two first-place votes and 27 second-place votes. Altuve finished with 405 points, Judge had 279 points and Jose Ramirez of the Indians had 237 points to finish third.
Votes were due at the end of the regular season, so Altuve's stellar postseason performance -- he had seven home runs and 14 RBIs in 24 games -- wasn't a factor. Still, Altuve's remarkable regular-season numbers and consistency proved to be too much for voters to ignore.
"I was surprised that I won it," Altuve said. "I wasn't expecting this. When you see Aaron Judge and Jose Ramirez, they had really good seasons. I was really happy to be in the top three finalists, and then all of a sudden they announced the MVP and that was me. I couldn't believe it. I have to thank my teammates and my fans."
Outfielder George Springer, shortstop Carlos Correa and infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez each received votes on ballots, which ran 10 selections deep.
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said Altuve should have won unanimously.
"I sent him a text message and told him congratulations and he deserved it," Bregman said. "We have a team group text going on and we were all super fired up for him. It's really special."
In the last few weeks, Altuve has been named the Player of the Year by the Sporting News and Baseball America, has won the AL Hank Aaron Award and two MLBPA Players Choice Awards for the Major League Player of the Year and the AL Most Outstanding Player. He also took home his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger Award.
Altuve, who made his fifth All-Star team, won his third career and second consecutive batting title after leading the Major Leagues with a .346 batting average. He also led the AL in hits (204) and became the first player in Major League history to be the outright leader in hits in his league in four consecutive seasons.
The 5-foot-6 second baseman, who was signed out of a Venezuelan tryout camp at 16 years old after initially being told to go home, also walloped 24 regular-season homers, drove in 81 runs and stole 32 bases. He led the AL in multi-hit games (59) and led the Majors in games with at least three hits (23). Altuve 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).
"That's what I love about baseball, that every single guy can play the game," Altuve said. "There's not a rule you have to be six feet tall to play baseball and become a good player."
• Complete 2017 Awards coverage
Altuve hit third in the Astros' lineup -- ahead of Correa -- but when Correa was on the disabled list from July 19 to Sept. 3 following thumb ligament surgery, Altuve stepped up, batting .384 with a 1.1015 OPS in the 40 games Correa missed.
Altuve's consistency was remarkable. He hit .347 in the first half and .344 in the second half. He hit .353 against left-handers and .344 against right-handers. He 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.
What's more, Altuve led the Major Leagues with a .441 batting average in close and late situations, a .421 batting average in Interleague Play and a .381 batting average on the road.
"It's awesome for him and our organization," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I'm so proud of him because I think even watching him on TV, you see the humility and how he automatically tries to bring up as many teammates as he can in the conversation. He was consistent and his standards are high and he wants to get better, and to see him as one of the few guys that's sort of run his entire career through this organization, it's nice to see him get rewarded and earn this."
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Now that the AL MVP Award has been decided, make your voice heard by voting for Best Major Leaguer in the Esurance MLB Awards, where baseball legends, media, front-office personnel and fans come together to pick the winners, with postseason accomplishments factored in. Then tune in Friday at 7 p.m. CT on MLB Network and MLB.com as this year's best stars and moments are revealed.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.