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Bregman, Altuve, and Gurriel are all potential MVP vote getters.
Bregman, Altuve, and Gurriel are all potential MVP vote getters.
Photo by Jack Gorman

How Many Houston Astros Will Get AL MVP Votes?

For the Houston Astros, the baseball postseason will begin on Friday in what, unfortunately for some (who have jobs during the day), has become kind of a tradition early afternoon time slot against the winner of tonight's American League wild card game. It should be a fun October, with the Astros entering the fray at around a +200 favorite to win the World Series.

Speaking of odds, on Tuesday afternoon, betonline.ag put out revised odds on the postseason awards, and I was mildly shocked by these two:

American League MVP
Alex Bregman -150 (2/3)
Mike Trout +110 11/10

American League Cy Young
Gerrit Cole -140 (5/7)
Justin Verlander EVEN (1/1)

A recent MLB.com straw poll of some baseball writers had Trout as a pretty heavy favorite to win the award — 34 of the 35 writers they surveyed said they would vote for Trout over Bregman (NOTE: Most of them are not actual voters for the MVP award, but it's still a decent gauge of the writer mindset.). As for the Cy Young, I've thought for some time that Verlander's late season no hitter against Toronto would be enough to seal the award over the nearly-identical-statistically Cole.

We will see, but right now, my play on those props would be to take each underdog — Trout and Verlander. In the broader picture, I am very curious to see how many Astros garner any sort of voting support for the AL MVP award. For those who don't know, the balloting consists of 30 American League writers (two covering each team) voting for their top 10 candidates, with the point scoring going, from 1 through 10, in a 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 fashion. In other words, the first place vote is worth 14 points, second place worth 9 points, and so on. A perfect unanimous sweep, which Trout may have been headed for before an injury cut his September off short, would be 420 points, or 30 first place votes times 14 points per vote.

So, how many Astros will show up on the ballots? All you have to do to show up is have one voter think you're one of the ten best candidates in the league. The Astros' roster is flush with candidates to garner support, and I think they go in this order:

ALEX BREGMAN (.296/.423/.592, 41 HR, 112 RBI)
PREDICTED FINISH:
Runner up to Mike Trout

JUSTIN VERLANDER (21-6, 2.58 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 300 K)
PREDICTED FINISH: 7th through 10th

GERRIT COLE (20-5, 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 326 K)
PREDICTED FINISH: 7th through 10th

MICHAEL BRANTLEY (.311/.372/.503, 22 HR, 90 RBI)
PREDICTED FINISH: 12th through 15th

JOSE ALTUVE (.298/.353/.550, 31 HR, 74 RBI)
PREDICTED FINISH: 12th through 15th

YULI GURRIEL (.298/.353/.541, 31 HR, 104 RBI)
PREDICTED FINISH: 15th through 20th

GEORGE SPRINGER (.292/.383/.591, 39 HR, 96 RBI)
PREDICTED FINISH: 15th through 20th

YORDAN ALVAREZ (.313/.412/.655, 27 HR, 78 RBI)
PREDICTED FINISH: 20th through 30th

That's EIGHT players who could wind up on the points board, and incredible total that's only happened one other time since 1980, and that was with the Atlanta Braves in 2003:

2003, ATLANTA BRAVES (Winner: Barry Bonds, Voting):
3. Gary Sheffield, 247 points (1 first place vote)
5. Javy Lopez, 159 points
13. Andruw Jones, 15 points
18T. Marcus Giles, 9 points
18T. John Smoltz, 9 points
25T. Chipper Jones, 4 points
27T. Russ Ortiz, 3 points
33. Rafael Furcal, 2 points
SEASON RESULT: 101-61, AL East champs, lost NLDS round (3-2 vs Cubs)

There have been three instances of teams with seven players getting MVP support, and oddly one of them was in the same year the Braves had their eight. Here they are:

2006, NEW YORK YANKEES (Winner: Justin Morneau, Voting):
2. Derek Jeter, 306 points (12 first place votes)
13. Alex Rodriguez, 13 points
14. Jason Giambi, 9 points
15T. Johnny Damon, 7 points
22T. Robinson Cano, 3 points
26T. Mariano Rivera 2 points
26T. Chien Ming-Wang, 2 points
SEASON RESULT: 97-65, AL East champs, lost ALDS (3-1 vs Tigers)

2003, FLORIDA MARLINS (Winner: Barry Bonds, Voting):
10. Juan Pierre, 39 points
11. Mike Lowell, 30 points
21. Luis Castillo, 8 points
23T. Ivan Rodriguez, 5 points
27T. Miguel Cabrera, 3 points
27T. Derek Lee, 3 points
34. Dontrelle Willis, 1 point
SEASON RESULT: 91-71, NL Wild Card, won World Series (4-2 vs Yankees)

1984, CHICAGO CUBS (Winner: Ryne Sandberg, Voting):
1. Ryne Sandberg, 326 points (22 first place votes)
4. Rick Sutcliffe, 151 points
5. Gary Matthews, 70 points
10. Jody Davis, 49 points
12. Leon Durham, 38 points
17T. Ron Cey, 6 points
17T. Bob Dernier, 6 points
SEASON RESULT: 96-65, NL East champs, lost NLCS (3-2 vs Padres)

The big takeaway here is that only one of the four teams listed above ended up winning a World Series, so a deep bankroll of MVP vote getters does not necessarily assure postseason success.

For the record, there are five previous instances of the Astros leading their league in MVP vote getters, the last two having ended up with teams going to the World Series (and in 2017, winning the damn thing!). Here they are:

2017 HOUSTON ASTROS (Winner: Jose Altuve, Voting):
1. Jose Altuve, 405 points (27 first place votes)
13. George Springer, 17 points
17. Carlos Correa, 9 points
19. Marwin Gonzalez, 6 points

2005 HOUSTON ASTROS (Winner: Albert Pujols, Voting):
4. Morgan Ensberg, 160 points
14T. Lance Berkman, 21 points
22. Roger Clemens, 8 points
23. Roy Oswalt, 6 points
24T. Andy Pettitte, 5 points
30T. Brad Lidge, 1 point

2004 HOUSTON ASTROS (Winner: Barry Bonds, Voting):
7. Lance Berkman, 100 points
8. Roger Clemens, 61 points
12. Carlos Beltran, 20 points
13. Jeff Kent, 18 points
23T. Roy Oswalt, 3 points

2001 HOUSTON ASTROS (Winner: Barry Bonds, Voting):
5. Lance Berkman, 125 points
7. Jeff Bagwell, 109 points
14T. Moises Alou, 13 points
22T. Roy Oswalt, 2 points

1999 HOUSTON ASTROS (Winner: Chipper Jones, Voting):
2. Jeff Bagwell, 276 points (1 first place vote)
12. Craig Biggio, 32 points
16. Billy Wagner, 19 points
17. Carl Everett, 15 points
21. Mike Hampton, 10 points

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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