Houston’s Jose Altuve leads the AL in hits (183) and batting average (.354) and is third in OPS (.983). He should become the second man ever with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, 20 homers, 30 steals and a .350 batting average (Larry Walker did it in 1997).
Altuve, who stands 5-6, is an MVP favorite, along with Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson, last year’s winner. David Ortiz, perhaps? September will be crucial, since there’s a bias among some voters against players who don’t reach the postseason.
Why should it matter? There’s a history of rewarding players from playoff teams, but isn’t a player’s value intrinsic to itself? Does he become more valuable because he’s on a stronger team? If you put Altuve on the Cubs, would he have more value?
It’ll help if Altuve has a huge September and leads the Astros through a tangled AL wild-card race. Defining value makes these MVP debates so endlessly fascinating. Just don’t tell me it’s hard to pick a guy who doesn’t play into October.