By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Jose Altuve of the World Series champion Houston Astros won the American League MVP award on Thursday while Marlins Giancarlo Stanton slugged his way to the National League honour.
Altuve, 27, led the majors in batting average and had 204 hits during a campaign that saw the Astros win their first world championship in the franchise’s 55-year history.
The nimble second baseman beat out New York Yankees’ hulking outfielder Aaron Judge, who hit 52 home runs in his first full season in the majors.
Altuve won 27 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for 405 in total to handily defeat Judge in a race many thought would be closer.
The 25-year-old Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award earlier in the week by unanimous vote.
The award is a remarkable achievement for the 5-ft 6-in (1.68m) Altuve, who was told early on that he had no place in Major League Baseball.
“I remember when I was 16 years old I went to a try-out and they told me not to come back,” he told reporters on a call after the award was announced.
“But there was something inside me and my dad, who went with me, that said we have to go again. We have to try again because I feel I can make something happen.”
Altuve is just the fifth American League second baseman to win the MVP, which has been awarded only 11 times to a second baseman. No position has had fewer MVP winners.
Marlins powerhouse right fielder Stanton narrowly defeated Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto for the NL award.
The 28-year-old Stanton received 302 votes, just two more than Votto in the fourth-closest MVP ballot of all-time.
Stanton led the majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs and posted a slugging percentage of .631.
“I always try to think positive but it was a surprise to hear,” Stanton told reporters on a call.
Despite having the best season of his career, Stanton’s future with the Marlins is uncertain as the team looks to rebuild after finishing 23 games behind the Astros in the AL West this season.
“It’s an interesting feeling and situation for me,” said Stanton, who joined the Marlins as a rookie in 2010.
“This is the only place I’ve known but I also understand the business side of it and the direction that the ownership wants to go,” he said.
“We’re going to try to figure out a plan.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ian Ransom)