Proving once again that good things come in small packages, Jose Altuve of the World Series-champion Astros dominated the 26th annual Players Choice Awards on Wednesday night.
The 5-foot-6 second baseman was selected by his peers as baseball's Player of the Year, as well as the American League Most Outstanding Player, for the second consecutive year.
"I'm just a guy who goes out there and tries to get better and help his team," Altuve said on the MLB Network broadcast. "That's what I love about baseball. There's not a rule where you have to be six-foot tall or you have to weigh 200 pounds. If you love the game, you're going to be able to play in the big leagues."
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Altuve, 27, is the first back-to-back winner of both awards since Jose Cabrera in 2012 and '13. Altuve led the Majors with a .346 batting average, while totaling 112 runs scored, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and 32 stolen bases in 153 regular-season games. The second baseman helped the Astros to the franchise's first World Series title, and he hit .310 with seven home runs and 14 RBIs in 18 postseason games.
The other finalists for the Player of the Year Award were Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge and Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez.
The awards annually honor the outstanding player, rookie, pitcher and comeback player in each league, as well as an overall Player of the Year and Marvin Miller Man of the Year, which are selected by players in both leagues.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo received the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, named in honor of the Major League Baseball Players Association's first executive director and given each year to the player "who inspires others through his on-field performances and contributions to his community." He was previously presented the Roberto Clemente Award during the World Series.
"This is another amazing award to win, especially [because] it's voted on by your peers," Rizzo said. "It means so much to be recognized for things like this. Just to be associated with Marvin Miller is something that's incredible, for what he's done for the game of baseball. He paved the path for every player."
Rizzo, a cancer survivor, founded the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012 to provide funding for pediatric cancer research and support for families. Since then, millions of dollars have been raised. This year alone, more than $4 million has been provided.
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"On the field, you want to do things the right way, play the game the right way," Rizzo said. "Off the field, I really try to use the platform that we've been provided with Major League Baseball to go out and help.
"It's amazing what it can do to someone. A moment can last a lifetime for them, seeing a person in a Cubs jersey. I try to keep that and remember that at all times."
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado won the Majestic Always Game Award, which recognizes the player who constantly exhibits grit, tenacity, perseverance and hustle on and off the field, all for the benefit of his teammates and fans.
Arenado talked about how his career was impacted by an incident in 2014 when he was benched by then-Rockies manager Walt Weiss for not running out a ground ball.
"Obviously, it was a learning experience," Arenado said. "I was young. I wasn't really listening. I didn't take things to heart.
"When Walt sat me that day, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that it wasn't acceptable and it wasn't fair to the team. So that kind of changed a lot about who I was. Obviously, no one likes to get embarrassed, and I told myself I didn't want to be embarrassed like that again. I have a friend who always tells me, 'You want to be known as a guy who plays old-school ball.' That's kind of how I approach it."
The Players Choice Awards honored the American and National Leagues' most outstanding players (Altuve and Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton), pitchers (Indians right-hander Corey Kluber and Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer), comeback players (Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman) and rookies (Judge and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger).
Stanton hit 59 home runs this season, the most since Barry Bonds (73) and Sammy Sosa (64) in 2001. This was the second time Stanton won NL Most Outstanding Player.
Scherzer figures to battle Dodgers left hander Clayton Kershaw when the NL Cy Young Award is announced next week. Kluber pitched 203 2/3 innings, despite spending a month on the disabled list, and led the Majors with a 2.25 ERA.
Moustakas set a Royals franchise record with 38 home runs after being limited to just 27 games in 2016 with a broken thumb and torn ACL. Zimmerman bounced back from the worst year of his career to make the All-Star team for the first time since 2009, while reaching career highs in home runs (36) and slugging percentage (.573).
The favorites won both the rookie awards. Despite not being called up until late April, Bellinger hit 39 homers and drove in 97 runs with a .933 OPS. He became the second straight Dodger to win, following shortstop Corey Seager last season. Judge, who was not assured of making the Yankees coming out of Spring Training, had a monster season with 52 homers, 114 RBIs, 128 runs scored and a 1.049 OPS.
The Players Choice Awards benefit the Major League Baseball Players Trust, the collective charity created and administered by the players themselves. Each league winner will have $20,000 donated in his name by the Players Trust to the charity of his choice. The two overall winners receive $50,000 grants.
Balloting was conducted in big league clubhouses on Sept.19 under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.