Verlander, Altuve named playoffs' finest

Astros' championship run fueled by co-winners of Best Major Leaguer, Postseason

November 18th, 2017

HOUSTON -- On national television, following one of the Astros' many exhilarating postseason wins, made official his admiration for the teammate who bore much of the responsibility for how well the team was faring in October.

"I literally love ," Altuve proclaimed, gushing over the veteran right-hander's dominant seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

Verlander reciprocated the sentiment the next day in a tweet: "I literally love you too @JoseAltuve27," he wrote, ending the tweet with a heart emoji.

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The next night, following the Astros' Game 7 win over the Yankees, Verlander was named MVP of the ALCS. That award could have easily gone to Altuve, raising some speculation earlier in the game that perhaps the two would end up as co-MVPs.

That didn't happen, but on Friday, the two became inextricably linked again. Altuve and Verlander capped the Astros' history-making season as co-winners of the Esurance MLB Award for Best Major Leaguer, Postseason. The teammates ended up, appropriately, tied in this category, one of several the Astros won in the grand finale of awards season.

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"Thanks, Esurance, my teammates and all the fans for helping me win the World Series," Altuve said. "It's an honor for me to share this Award with Justin Verlander, because I literally love Justin Verlander."

Who in Houston doesn't? The 34-year-old former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner was nearly flawless after joining the Astros in early September, and it's safe to surmise that without his contributions in October, the Astros' path to a World Series title would have been considerably bumpier.

"I want to thank Esurance for awarding me the [Best Major Leaguer, Postseason], along with Jose Altuve," Verlander said. "What a great honor it is to share this award with such a great teammate. What we could do for the city of Houston was amazing, in bringing home a championship to a city that really needed something to cheer for, and I am so thankful to be a part of that."

Verlander allowed nine runs over 36 2/3 postseason innings for a 2.21 ERA. He walked eight, struck out 38, and compiled a 0.82 WHIP. Batters hit .177 against him.

Verlander's ALCS performance -- one run over 16 innings (0.56 ERA), two walks and 21 strikeouts -- earned him MVP honors for that series.

Altuve was the perfect complement offensively to Verlander's dominance on the mound. Altuve batted .533 against Red Sox pitching in the AL Division Series, logging eight hits in 15 at-bats. Three of those hits were home runs, all hit in Game 1.

Altuve stayed red-hot in the ALCS, batting .320 (8-for-25). Cumulatively, Altuve slashed .310/.388/.634 in the postseason.

Other finalists for this category were World Series MVP and Astros outfielder , Dodgers third baseman and Houston shortstop .

The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: Media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.

The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the AL and NL from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.

Voting led off with seven categories (Personality of the Year; Best Defensive Player; Best Play, Offense; Best Play, Defense; Best Performance; Best Fan Catch; Best Player-Fan Interaction) on Sept. 18 at, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled the Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment categories following the Fall Classic's final out.

The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, giving fans the opportunity to help determine the Best Major Leaguer, Pitcher, Rookie, Manager and Executive. Winners were announced on MLB Network and on Friday night.

Altuve and Verlander each won two of the vote groups and tied in the group comprised of media members.