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Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve told reporters Friday that if he had a vote for American League MVP, he would cast it for New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge.
“Probably him—Judge. Yeah,” Altuve said, according to ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber. “Because he hit a lot of homers, a lot of RBI, he got on base a lot, and I like the way he plays. If I was a general manager, I want him on my team, because he plays the right way, and he’s very humble.”
Altuve added that Judge is deserving because of his well-rounded efforts.
“He hits the ball way farther than anybody in the big leagues, all his homers,” he said. “He plays good defense. He did everything to win the MVP in the regular season. But what I like the most about him is how humble he is.”
Judge stitched together an unprecedented rookie season from a power perspective, as he shattered Mark McGwire’s previous record and smashed an AL-best 52 home runs to go with 114 RBI.
However, Judge also recorded a league-worst 208 strikeouts and was noticeably less efficient over the second half of the season.
Despite surging in September with 15 home runs and 32 RBI, Judge slashed .228/.391/.548 after the All-Star break compared to a line of .329/.448/.691 prior to the Midsummer Classic.
In the field, Judge was good for nine defensive runs saved and a UZR of 6.1, according to FanGraphs.
Altuve, meanwhile, was the most consistent player in baseball this season.
Appearing in 153 games, the five-time All-Star batted an MLB-best .346, tied his career high with 24 home runs and drove in 81 runs. He also recorded 32 stolen bases and struck out just 84 times while registering a career-high slugging percentage of .957.
The 27-year-old’s fielding measures (three defensive runs saved, -1.9 UZR) weren’t as impressive, but he made up for it with steadier brilliance at the plate for the American League West champions.
Now up 1-0 over the Yankees in the ALCS following Friday night’s 2-1 win, the Astros will hope Altuve can replicate his 3-for-4 Game 1 showing Saturday as Houston eyes a 2-0 lead and its first AL pennant since 2005.