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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

2019 Trade Deadline Highlights

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In a shocking, last-minute deal, Zack Greinke has a new home (CBS Sports).

This year’s Trade Deadline in the MLB wasn’t as boisterous as previous seasons and might rank as one of the less-exciting ones in history. There was still a good number of high-profile moves, however, and a few big names went on to new homes. Here’s a look at the more notable acquisitions of July 31, 2019 and how they will impact the teams that got the big returns.

Blue Jays trade RHP Marcus Stroman to Mets in exchange for RHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson

The move that unofficially kicked off trading season was a bit of a head scratcher. It had long been rumored that Toronto was shopping ace Marcus Stroman, but the team he ended up with isn’t exactly a contender. The Mets are currently four games under .500 and may not be vying for the postseason in 2019. The move is likely another part of the Mets rebuilding process, and since Noah Syndergaard stayed put, New York may have a formidable rotation next season.

Indians acquire LHP Scott Moss, OF Yasiel Puig from Reds and OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and IF Victor Nova from Padres, Padres acquire OF Taylor Trammell from Reds, Indians acquire Reds acquire RHP Trevor Bauer from Indians

The literal biggest trade of the day was a this three-team blockbuster. Trevor Bauer firing the ball over the center field wall on Sunday after he was pulled in the fifth inning ended up being the last pitch he threw in an Indians uniform. A day later the Tribe rid itself of his petulance and pulled off a massive trade with intrastate rival Cincinnati as well as San Diego that saw Bauer go to the Reds and Reds top prospect Taylor Tramell go to the Friars. Cleveland received a host of players from both teams, most namely Yasiel Puig, who is ironically also known as a prima donna.

Though Bauer is undeniably talented when he keeps his act together and bolsters the Reds attempts to trend upward, San Diego may have won the trade with Tramell, MLB’s no. 30 overall prospect.

Rays acquire 1B Jesus Aguilar from Brewers in exchange for RHP Jacob Faria

Milwaukee was certainly brewing before the Deadline and made a commendable effort to improve its pitching. GM David Stearns’ most notable move was a straight swap with the Rays that brought back righty Jacob Faria in exchange for power hitting 1B Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar is having a down year but has proven many times that he can be deadly. He gives the Rays the big bat they’ve been seeking in their hunt for a Wild Card berth.

It’s a good move for both sides because it clears Milwaukee’s infield logjam and gives the team another quality starter. Faria never quite broke out in Tampa Bay but a change of scenery always has potential to pay dividends. After having already gotten Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh on Monday, the Brewers made another move and got Drew Pomeranz from San Fransisco later on Wednesday. Though none of the returns are big name guys, Milwaukee is serious about making another run after coming so close last year.

Cubs acquire OF Nicholas Castellanos from Tigers in exchange for RHP Alex Lange and RHP Paul Richan.

The Cubs made their chances of taking the NL Central back even better with this move. Nicholas Castellanos has been one of the MLB’s more underrated players in recent years, largely because he was on the Tigers after the team’s glory days of the early 2010s ended. Adding him to a lineup that already includes Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez gives the Cubbies even more firepower, especially given Castellanos success vs. lefty pitchers. It’s also a great move for him personally as he gets to join a contending team at last. The Cubs are vying to appear in the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, and their chances look pretty good.

Astros acquire RHP Zack Greinke from Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Corbin Martin, RHP JB Bukauskas, IF Josh Rojas and IF Seth Beer

If Houston was scary good before this trade, they’re terrifyingly good now. The Astros just added Zack Greinke to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in a last-minute deal that wasn’t announced until after the deadline officially passed. Arizona received a package of four minor leaguers in return as the team is now officially in the rebuilding process.

Like Verlander, Greinke is in the second half of his thirties but has not declined at all and owned a 10-4 record with a 2.90 on a sub-par Diamondbacks team at the time of his departure. The six-time All-Star’s presence gives Houston the best rotation in baseball by far and should get the knees of any upcoming opponent knocking. The MLB said it best on Instagram today, “Facing Houston? You have a problem.”

Notable non-moves:

  • After being heavily rumored as top targets, Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard and Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner are still members of their longtime teams.
  • The Boston Red Sox, whose bullpen has blown 18 saves, made no moves to improve its relief core, to the amazement of the team’s fanbase.
  • The New York Yankees were thought to be Syndergaard’s top suitor, but the team did not acquire any starting pitching to aid Aaron Boone’s struggling rotation.

What was the biggest move of the deadline this year? Be sure to let us know on Twitter @HomeRunDaily.

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American League

Athletics Acquire Tanner Roark

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Tanner Roark

The Oakland Athletics have acquired right hander Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder Jamerson Hannah will be heading to Cincinnati, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, the Reds will pick up $2.1 million of Roark’s remaining salary.

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American League

Astros Acquire Martin Maldonado

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Martin Maldonado

The Houston Astros have acquired veteran catcher Martin Maldonado from the Chicago Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder/second baseman Tony Kemp will be heading to the Cubs, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

Maldonado has posted a .217/.285/.349 slash line this season.

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