Entering Thursday, many figured this year's Baseball Writers' Association of America MVP votes could be close.What we got was one of the closest MVP races in history.Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton eked out his first career National League MVP Award by just two points over Reds first baseman Joey Votto,
Entering Thursday, many figured this year's Baseball Writers' Association of America MVP votes could be close.
What we got was one of the closest MVP races in history.
Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton eked out his first career National League MVP Award by just two points over Reds first baseman Joey Votto, marking the fourth-closest MVP race in the history of BBWAA voting, dating back to 1931. The only races that were closer: a tie between Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell in the 1979 NL race, and one-point margins of victory for Joe DiMaggio (over Ted Williams) in the '47 AL vote and Marty Marion (over Bill Nicholson) in the '44 NL vote.
Stanton won the NL race with a 72 percent winner's share that marked the lowest in the Senior Circuit since Barry Larkin won with the same share in 1995.
The six players to receive a first-place vote marked the most in any NL MVP vote since that tie in 1979.
The American League MVP race wasn't nearly as close, as Astros second baseman Jose Altuve topped Yankees rookie Aaron Judge by claiming 27 of the 30 first-place votes.
Stanton and Altuve contrast in several obvious ways -- their stature and their approaches at the plate, to name a couple -- but they both mashed as well as anyone in baseball this season.
Each player's first career MVP Awards mark the perfect capstone to their historic seasons. How historic were these two players' campaigns? Here are some facts and figures you should know about the 2017 MVP's.
Altuve caps off incredible 2017
• Altuve joins Jeff Bagwell (1994) as the only Astros to win MVP Awards. Houston becomes the second franchise to have fielded an MVP in both leagues, joining the Brewers, who had Robin Yount win in the AL in 1982 and '89 and Ryan Braun in the NL in 2011.
:: AL Most Valuable Player voting totals ::
• Altuve led the AL in hits for a fourth consecutive season, collecting 204 this year. He is the third player since 1992 to claim a hits title and an MVP Award in the same year, following Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Dustin Pedroia (tied Ichiro in hits in '08).
• This marks the second consecutive season in which an MVP came from a World Series winner, with the Cubs' Kristopher Bryant having accomplished that feat last year. Before that, the Giants' Buster Posey in 2012 was the only MVP to win a World Series ring since Kirk Gibson of the 1988 Dodgers. Altuve is the first to do that in the AL since closer Willie Hernandez of the '84 Tigers.
• Altuve is just the 11th second baseman to be named MVP, which is the fewest of any position. He is the fifth AL second baseman to do it and first since Pedroia.
• Listed at 5-foot-6, Altuve ties for the shortest MVP Award winner in BBWAA history -- and the shortest in 65 years. The only other 5-foot-6 players to be named MVP also were in the AL. Slick-fielding Yankees shortstop and Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto did it in 1950, when he batted .324 with a .418 on-base percentage, and Philadelphia A's lefty Bobby Shantz followed him two years later, when he went 24-7 with a 2.48 ERA.
• Altuve is the second MVP Award winner to hail from Venezuela, joining two-time honoree Jose Cabrera.
• Altuve's .346 batting average this year was the highest by any AL second baseman since Hall of Famer Rod Carew hit .359 in 1975, and the third-highest by any player in Astros history, behind Bagwell in '94 (.368) and Moises Alou in 2000 (.355).
• Going all the way back to 1962, Altuve's .381 road batting average was the third highest for any player with at least 250 road at-bats, behind only Ichiro's .405 in 2004 and Cecil Cooper's .386 in 1980.
• How consistently productive was Altuve? He hit .344 against right-handed pitchers and .353 against lefties; .347 before the All-Star break and .344 after it; at least .291 in each individual month; .342 with nobody on base and .350 with at least one base occupied; .338 against starters and .363 against relievers; and .358 during the day and .341 at night.
• Altuve's .372 average against fastballs (four-seamers and two-seamers/sinkers) was the highest among 205 batters who had at least 200 at-bats end with one of those pitches in 2017, according to Statcast™. Yet he also batted .361 against curveballs and sliders, which ranked second out of 200 batters (minimum 100 at-bats).
• Altuve, now with four straight seasons of at least 200 hits, is the only second baseman in the Integration Era (since 1947) with more than two such campaigns in a row over his entire career. Ichiro (2001-10) and Michael Young ('03-'07) are the only other players at any position to string together four straight 200-hit seasons since 1990.
Stanton smashes his way to the top
• Stanton walloped 59 home runs this season, becoming the first player to win an MVP Award after leading the Majors in homers since Cabrera (44) in 2012. Only three times in history has the BBWAA given an MVP Award to a player with more homers than Stanton.
:: NL Most Valuable Player voting totals ::
Most HR in a BBWAA MVP season
- 73 -- Barry Bonds, 2001
- 66 -- Sammy Sosa, 1998
- 61 -- Roger Maris, 1961
- 59 -- Stanton, 2017
- 58 -- Ryan Howard, 2006
• In the Wild Card Era (since 1995), Stanton is the eighth MVP out of 46 to come from a non-playoff team. However, this is the third year in a row in which a team that missed the postseason had an MVP winner, with Stanton following the Angels' Michael Trout (2016) and the Nationals' Bryce Harper ('15).
• Stanton is just the sixth player to win the MVP while playing for a team with a losing record, joining Trout last year, Alex Rodriguez (2003), Cal Ripken Jr. (1991), Andre Dawson (1987) and Ernie Banks (1958-59).
• Stanton is the Marlins' first MVP in the franchise's 25 seasons. Previously, Miami was one of four franchises without one, along with the D-backs, Rays and Mets.
• Of course, there's a chance Stanton won't be with the Marlins for much longer, as trade rumors swirl around him this offseason. Should Stanton win the MVP and then be dealt, he would join Rodriguez as the only players to be traded in the offseason directly following an MVP-winning season. Rodriguez won with the Rangers in 2003, then was dealt to the Yankees the following February. The only other player to switch teams after an MVP campaign was Bonds, who signed as a free agent with the Giants after winning the MVP Award with the Pirates in 1992.
• Stanton is the 21st BBWAA MVP who hails from California, the most for any state.
• Stanton is the 63rd outfielder to take MVP honors from the BBWAA, which is by far the most for any position. First basemen are second, with 29.
• No MVP in history has been taller than Stanton, whose listed height is 6-foot-6.
• Among NL players, according to Statcast™, Stanton smacked each of the four hardest home runs of the season, led by a 118.7 mph blast on Sept. 28. He also accounted for nine of the 10 hardest homers in the NL and 14 of the top 19. Of Stanton's 59 long balls, 33 had an exit velocity of at least 110 mph. No other NL player had more than seven such homers, and no NL team besides the Marlins had more than 19.
Stanton's 59 homers tied for the ninth-best single-season total in history and the highest since 2001, when Bonds hit a record 73 and Sosa added 64. Stanton is just the sixth player to reach 59 in a season, along with Bonds, Sosa (three times), Mark McGwire (twice), Babe Ruth (twice) and Maris.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSimonMLB.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.