While MLB refuses to vacate the Astros’ 2017 World Series title, players need to be held accountable for cheating. That includes Jose Altuve, being stripped of the ’17 AL MVP, and handing it to Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, who finished in second place.
While MLB sorts out potential new evidence that indicates Jose Altuve may have worn a pitch-indicating buzzer last October, when he hit the decisive ALCS Game 6 home run off of Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, the indictment of the Astros’ illegal doings from 2017 is already cast in stone.
To a certain extent, it is understandable that MLB wouldn’t name the Dodgers as 2017 World Series Champions — and who’s to say those 25 proud men from Los Angeles would even want to wear the crown in such a manner.
However, Major League Baseball certainly could have done what the NCAA often has and wiped away the Astros’ win from the record books — leaving an asterisk that states no winner was determined for the 2017 season due to cheating.
Even still, the one enormous omission Commissioner Rob Manfred has committed is allowing Jose Altuve to retain his American League MVP Award from that season.
Former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the entire scheme was “player-driven” — and whether or not that is entirely true, Carlos Beltran is smack dab in the middle of the continuing controversy. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been let go by the Mets before ever managing a single inning.
Back to Altuve, sure, he had a season for the ages in ’17, leading the league in both hits and average — slashing .346/.410/.547 with 112 runs scored, 39 doubles, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs and an 84:58 K:BB ratio across 662 plate appearances. But gaudy numbers are a whole lot easier to achieve when you know precisely what pitch to expect.
There’s no guesswork — no deciphering what the pitcher will throw based on the count. It’s merely feeling the vibration on your chest (or wrist) and then reacting.
In all fairness to Altuve, though, it’s easy to say he doesn’t deserve any, he did first become an All-Star in 2012 and has been a consistently great player ever since. Then again, so was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson until he made a foolish mistake before the 1919 World Series.
As I wrote, well over two years ago, Aaron Judge deserved the AL MVP in 2017 — and even more so now. The AL Rookie of the Year paced the league in four categories, runs (126), walks (127), OBP (.421), and at the time, set the rookie record for homers in a season with 51.
Not only was he the first rookie ever to lead the league in runs, walks and home runs, but he became just the third player in baseball history, age 25 or younger to notch at least 125 runs and 125 walks in a single campaign. The other two men are Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
By all estimates, Judge’s astounding performance launched the Yankees a year forward in their expected timeline to compete for a championship.
While some will say, entering his age 28 season, that Judge has plenty of time to win an MVP Award, the statistics he produced in 2017 could be once in a lifetime. After all, Judge has missed a good chunk of the past two seasons due to injury, and nothing is a given in professional sports.
That is unless you know exactly what type of pitch to expect while up at-bat.
Anyway, I don’t expect MLB to do the right thing and retroactively name Judge the real MVP, but it would set a precedent to all coaches, players and team personnel that if you cheat, there will be consequences — even years after the fact.
For those that think Aaron Judge doesn’t care, then you definitely missed the news about him deleting the congratulatory Instagram post he sent to Altuve after being named MVP. So, yeah, Judge is PO’ed, and he has every right to feel slighted.