D.J. Short

Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: Stanton, Altuve MVPs

Friday, November 17, 2017


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MLB’s awards week continued on Thursday, with Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton barely edging out Joey Votto for the National League MVP Award and Jose Altuve winning the American League MVP Award in a landslide. Talk about a lesson in contrast. That it’s possible for two players of such disparate stature to share top billing should function as a reminder that baseball is the best darn game on Earth.  

The National League vote was the fourth-closest MVP vote ever, with Stanton receiving 302 total points to Votto’s 300 points. It was the closest vote since Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell tied for the National League MVP Award in 1979. There were one-point margins in 1944 (Marty Marion over Bill Nicholson for the NL MVP) and 1947 (Joe DiMaggio over Ted Williams for the AL MVP).

Votto actually tied Stanton with 10 first-place votes, but he received one fewer second-place and third-place vote. Stanton received one sixth-place vote while Votto wasn’t lower than fifth on any ballot, but the difference with the second-place and third-place votes proved critical. Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Charlie Blackmon rounded out the top-five in the balloting, all of them receiving first-place votes. Kris Bryant also netted a first-place vote, finishing seventh.

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There wasn’t a clear frontrunner in the National League this year, but Stanton’s amazing power exploits separated him from the pack in the end. The 28-year-old appeared in a career-high 159 games and exploded for a major-league leading 59 homers to go along with 132 RBI and a .281/.376/.631 batting line. He swatted the most home runs in a season since Barry Bonds (73) and Sammy Sosa (64) in 2001.

Stanton is the first player in Marlins history to win the NL MVP Award, but he might not be around much longer. The new hardware provides the Marlins with an additional talking point in their efforts to find a trade partner and cut payroll. If it happens, as expected, Stanton would be the third player traded in the offseason after winning an MVP Award, joining Alex Rodriguez (2003) and Eddie Collins (1914).

Many thought the vote between Altuve and Aaron Judge would also be a close one, but there wasn’t much drama to be found. Altuve garnered 27 out of the 30 first-place votes while Judge received two first-place votes and finished in a distant second. Indians infielder Jose Ramirez, the other finalist, received one first-place vote.

Just a couple of weeks removed from the first World Series title in franchise history, Altuve becomes the second Astros player to win the MVP Award, joining Jeff Bagwell, who won it in the National League in 1994. The 27-year-old took it to another level this year, posting a career-high 164 OPS+ while batting .346/.410/.547 with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, 32 stolen bases, and 112 runs scored. He now has three AL batting crowns in the last four seasons.

Judge finished the regular season on a high note after a brutal struggle out of the All-Star break, but clearly the voters valued consistency. For what it’s worth, Altuve hit at least .298 with an .850 OPS in every calendar month.  

Despite appearing in just 114 games, Mike Trout finished in fourth place on the AL ballot while Francisco Lindor was fifth.  

Qualifying Offers Declined

As expected, all nine players who received one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offers last week officially declined on Thursday. This means that Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Carlos Santana, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland, and Wade Davis will all be tied to draft pick compensation should they sign with a different team.

The qualifying offer system was tweaked as part of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, so things will look different this year. In the past, teams have often been hesitant to sign qualifying offer free agents if it meant giving up a first-round pick, but players will now be unburdened from that issue. Teams will still lose a draft pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent, but it will just come later on, with the specifics depending on factors like revenue sharing and the luxury tax. International bonus money could also be surrendered.

As for compensation for teams who lose qualifying offer free agents, it’s also a tiered system depending on revenue sharing, luxury tax, and value of the contract. For example, a team could receive a compensatory pick after the first-round if their former player receives a contract valued at $50 million or more from their new team. It would be just before the start of the third round if the player signed for under $50 million. Most, if not all, of the nine players mentioned above should do better than $50 million.

It’s more complicated than previous years, but be sure to read the full details of the system here and familiarize yourself with the situation of your favorite team.

Quick Hits: According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the MLBPA has set a Monday deadline to resolve the posting situation with Japanese sensation Shohei OtaniMichael Conforto (shoulder) should be swinging a bat by late January, with the hopes of being ready for the start of spring training ... Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees are interested in acquiring Jurickson Profar from the Rangers … According to Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago, the Cubs like free agent reliever Brandon Morrow as a potential closer target and are expected to monitor the market for Addison Reed … AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports that the Padres hope to retain free agents Jhoulys Chacin and Craig Stammen … According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the World Series champion Astros are “strongly considering” an effort to sign manager A.J. Hinch to a long-term deal … The White Sox acquired minor league reliever Thyajo Vieira from the Mariners in exchange for international slot money … Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that the Yankees interviewed Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens for their managerial vacancy on Thursday …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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