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American League

Why Judge And Stanton Shouldn’t Be MVPs

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2017 was one heck of a year for homers in Major League Baseball. Five players hit more than 40 and one almost hit 60. A rookie record was broken, and a 21-year-old hit 39 on top of that.

Entering this year, the 2000 season owned the all-time record for most home runs with 5,693. Mind you that 2000 was in the heart of the Steroid Era. The 2017 season shattered that record by over 400 with 6,105.

One of the most captivating stories of the year was the electrical storm put on by two guys who look like the Twin Towers when standing next to each other. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton reclaimed his place as the league’s most feared hitter, leading the MLB with 59 homers and 132 RBI. Not far behind him was Yankees phenom Aaron Judge, who broke Mark McGwire’s 29-year-old record for moonshots by a rookie with 52.

As one could probably gauge, Stanton and Judge are both finalists for their respective league’s MVP crown. Both are the favorites for the hardware pretty much solely because their long ball totals and their chances of winning right now are pretty good. That should not be the case.

Everyone knows that homers are the most exciting part of the game. “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords,” said the late great Ralph Kiner. Baseball media has always admired the power strokes and power hitters always receive the most attention and praise. It’s something all fans accept because it’s the way it’s been for so long.

However, while Stanton and Judge were bombing away this season, two players behind them were also putting together stellar years and demonstrating that there’s far more to the game than just moonshots.

Aaron Judge’s first full season got off to a stellar start.  In the fist half he broke Joe DiMaggio’s record for homers by a Yankee rookie by hitting 30 and driving in 66. The feat earned him a well-deserved All-Star Game start, at which he also won the Home Run Derby. It was not the same story in the second half.

Almost as quickly as he rose to prominence, Judge faltered, striking out in 37 consecutive games. He batted .230 in July and just .185 in August. Equally impressive, however, was how well Judge regained himself. Once the calendar turned to September, the sleeping giant awoke and recorded a monster final month to finish the year with a .284 AVG, 114 RBI and 52 HR. But while he was MIA in for that month and half, another player was doing business as usual.

If Jose Altuve isn’t the best pure hitter in baseball right now, I don’t know who is. Never letting his short stature be an excuse, the second baseman led the majors in hitting for the second straight year, batting .346. He drove in 81 with 24 homers and a .957 OPS, leading Houston to its first ever World Championship.

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Jose Altuve’s undeviating excellence in 2017 fell in the shadow of Aaron Judge’s home run parade. (Sports Illustrated)

While Judge’s totals are better in all of those categories except average, Altuve had the better year. Here’s the proof. Judge batted .230 in July and .185 in August, Altuve batted .485 and .304 in those months. While The Judge temporarily abdicated his bench,  ‘Tuve lit up every pitcher he faced.

The MVP award should be awarded to the player who was consistently the best throughout the entire season, not just parts of it. Judge’s final line for the year was largely better than that of his diminutive contemporary, but Altuve was a force from game one to game 162. For that, he should be AL MVP.

It’s a similar case for Giancarlo Stanton in the National League. This year the right fielder proved to any doubters that he is the MLB’s premier power hitter and finished with a .281 AVG, 59 HR, 132 RBI, a .376 OBP and 1.007 OPS. His second half performance that included 23 homers in 35 games was as enthralling as it was impressive. It wasn’t the best showing of the year in the Senior Circuit, however.

While the man formerly know as Mike was hammering away at every pitch, Cincinnati stalwart Joey Votto (six years his senior) quietly put together an incredible run of his own. The 34-year-old amassed arguably the most formidable all-around offensive performance of the year, finishing with a .320 AVG, 36 HR, 100 RBI, a .454 OBP and a 1.032 OPS.

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The 2017 spotlight was fixed on Giancarlo Stanton, making many unaware of just how good Joey Votto was. (USA Today)

In contrast to Stanton, Votto had far less homers and RBI, but he boasted a far superior batting average and on-base percentage. Similar to the American League race also is that Votto was in the zone all year while the Stanton parade largely didn’t begin until the second half. The fans voted Stanton the winner of the NL’s Hank Aaron Award, but the true title of MVP belongs to Joey Votto.

Even against Stanton’s far superior tally of homers and RBI, Votto’s line is much better as a whole. Stanton excelled at hitting the ball 500 miles this season, but his stats beyond that are not as impressive, while Votto’s show he excelled everywhere.

The MVP hardware will be awarded tonight on the MLB Network. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if both Judge and Stanton won because, as I said, we all know how much the MLB loves homers. But there’s more to America’s past time than just that. Hopefully the BBWAA will remember that.

Check back with us on HR Daily tonight for the winner!

American League

Tigers to Sign Hector Sanchez

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The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with catcher Hector Sanchez, according to Venezuelan journalist Ignacio Serrano.

The deal includes an invitation to Spring Training.

Sanchez, 29, was released by the San Francisco Giants shortly after the start of the 2018 season, and owns a career .238/.273/.367 batting line.

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American League

Yankees to Sign Danny Farquhar

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The New York Yankees are signing right handed pitches Danny Farquhar to a minor-league deal, according to FanCred’s Jon Heyman.

According to MLB’com’s Mark Feinsand, the 31-year old Farquhar will receive an invitation to camp with the Yankees.

Farquhar spent the 2018 season with the Chicago White Sox, pitching to the tune of a 5.63 ERA of 8 innings pitched.

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American League

Mariners Designate Kaleb Cowart for Assignment

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The Seattle Mariners have designated infielder Kaleb Coward for assignment, creating a needed roster space for the acquisition of Shed Long from the New York Yankees, the team officially announced.

Seattle claimed Cowart back in December, stating that he would come to camp not only as an infielder, but as a pitcher as well, and while he could still come to Mariners’ camp, he will need to clear waivers first.

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