Sometimes, what seems like an easy question does not look so easy when you peer beneath the surface. It would seem that one man, Jose Altuve, is the Astros’ MVP to this point in the season, but is that the best answer?
- Argument For. The Mighty Might leads the team in Games played, PAs, ABs, Hits, Doubles, SBs, and the holy quadriverate (it’s not a word, but it should be) with a .367/.422/.568/.990. Oh and his 6.9 WAR tops the team. In the four games he missed this season, the team is 2-2, while they are 74-46 with him.
- Argument Against. Despite playing far more games than the other candidates, he is not leading the team in any of the three “big” categories of runs scored, HRs or RBIs. In addition, with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP) his numbers dip to .306 BA/.386 OBP/.828 OPS, which are still good numbers. And then ….with 2 outs and RISP, he is a very pedestrian .255 BA/.375 OBP/.758 OPS.
- Argument For. The Astros are 56-28 in games he played and 20-20 without him. His 4.7 WAR in 84 games would project into a 6.9 WAR over 124 games. He had an excellent .318/.392/.947 with RISP and an even gaudier .340/.421/1.051 with two outs and RISP. His 64 Runs/20 HRs/ 67 RBIs over 84 games is at a 123 runs, 39 home run/129 RBI pace over 162 games.
- Argument Against. We can project all we want, but he has missed (through no fault of his own except a poorly conceptualized head first slide into a catcher’s pads) 32% of the Astros games.
- Argument For. The Astros are 68-36 in games he played and only 8-12 when he has been out. Despite missing 20 games he still leads the team with 86 runs scored and 28 HRs and is two out of the team lead with 70 RBIs. His numbers with RISP are strong – .310 BA/.394 OBP/.980 OPS and with two outs and RISP they are unworldly – .450 BA/.569 OBP/1.444 OPS. Also as the Astros’ leadoff hitter he has set the tone for the team throughout their excellent start to the season.
- Argument Against His overall numbers – .303 BA/.378 OBP/.943 OPS are very good but not as good as Altuve’s or Correa’s. He “only” has a 4.5 WAR so far this season.
- Argument For. His 9-0 record prior to going on the DL was a prime driver for the Astros great start to the season. Despite missing almost 2 months of the season, his 11 wins still lead the team, and among starters he leads in ERA (2.58) Win % (84.6%), and WHIP (1.086). His ERA and win % would be leading the AL if he had enough innings to be a qualifier.
- Argument Against. It is the same argument against most pitchers – how can a guy who in this case has only played in 13% of the games be MVP? Yes, they are 13-3 when he pitches, but they are a darned good 63-45 when he doesn’t. Maybe if he had not missed those two months and was, say, 17-3 right now he could make a stronger case for team MVP.
Close, but no cigar.
Marwin Gonzalez. Very strong numbers, including leading the team with 72 RBIs, but the team is a puzzling excellent 17-4 when MarGo does not play.
Brad Peacock. He has been excellent and very valuable and done everything they asked him to including a surprising 10-2 record, but he is a step behind even Keuchel in value.
Ken Giles. After some early season bobbles, Giles is an excellent 24 out of 27 in saves. What is keeping him off the elite list is the fact that he has just not been given that many save opportunities this season with the team’s offense pouring it on in so many games. His ability lately to get more than 3 outs is raising his value for a team missing Will Harris in the set-up spot.
Looking this over, it feels like the Astros’ MVP needs to be either Jose Altuve or George Springer.
So who is your choice and why?