Thanks to crazy vote totals for Altuve, Harden, and Watt, Houston is the MVC — Most Valuable City.
Thanks to crazy vote totals for Altuve, Harden, and Watt, Houston is the MVC — Most Valuable City.
Photos by Marco Torres and Eric Sauseda

Congratulations, Houston! Since 2014, You Are America's Most Valuable Sports City!

By practically any measurement, we are in the midst of a golden age of Houston sports. In baseball, the Astros are the defending World Series champions. In basketball, the only thing standing in between the Rockets and a title was some deficient soft tissue in the back of Chris Paul's right leg. Finally, in football, the Deshaun Watson Era is upon us.

While the subjective "feels" of a golden era might be the best part, it's also fun to dissect the empirical ways in which we can bask in the glory of the collective performance of our athletes. Thankfully, over the last eight months, we've had two chances to celebrate one of our own taking home the biggest individual prize in his sport — the Most Valuable Player award, Jose Altuve for the AL in baseball, and James Harden in the NBA.

It got me thinking, "Man, we sure have been blessed with a ton of MVP talk on the radio the last few years." It's true, going back to the 2014 regular season in the NFL, when J.J. Watt came within a stone's throw of becoming the first defensive player since Lawrence Taylor to take home the MVP, it seems like we've constantly had an MVP candidate to talk about on the air in one of the "big three" sports.

And a few days ago, after Harden took home the NBA's MVP Award, it got me thinking "Going back to J.J.'s run at NFL MVP in 2014, I wonder how Houston athletes have fared collectively in MVP voting across the NBA, NFL, and MLB." So, I grabbed a bottle of wine, hunkered down, and did the research. Here were the parameters:

1. I went back and retrieved MVP voting totals for the NFL in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, NBA voting totals in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and MLB voting totals, both AL and NL, for 2015, 2016, and 2017. Since the NFL reveals its MVP in early February, we can just go ahead and say I went back and got voting totals for every NFL, NBA, and MLB MVP that's been announced since the beginning of 2015.

2. Next, I figured the percentage of the possible vote received for each player for each award for all of those seasons. For example, in baseball, a perfect score would be 30 first place votes at 14 points apiece, for 420 points. So, as an example, Jose Altuve received 405 of a possible 420 points in 2017's MVP vote, so his score would be 0.964 for that year. Marwin Gonzalez received 6 out of 420 points, so his score for 2017 would be 0.014. I did the same for the NBA, and in the NFL, the 50 writers with votes only cast a ballot for one player, so the percentage there was merely the number of votes received divided by fifty. (Example, Watt received 13 votes in 2014, so his score was 0.260.)

3. While we're talking about the NFL, it's important to note that cities with big NFL stars mathematically don't get as much credit for the performance of those players as NBA and MLB players get, since the NFL's MVP voters pick just one player, as opposed to the NBA voters picking five players in order, and MLB voters picking ten in order. Fortunately, we live in a city with players that are awesome at all three sports, so it doesn't really matter for Houston. We rule.

4. The score for each city is derived by simply adding up the percentage of possible points received in voting by each player. In other words, it's the cumulative MVP level performance, as determined by actual voters, for NFL, NBA, and MLB athletes in every city/metro area going back to the end of the 2014 NFL season.

Without further ado, here are the rankings:

1. HOUSTON, 4.633

2. LOS ANGELES, 3.911

3. CLEVELAND, 3.305

4. CHICAGO, 2.690

5. BOSTON, 2.618

6. SF BAY AREA, 2.600

7. WASH, D.C., 2.174

8. TORONTO, 1.887

9. DENVER, 1.771

10. OKLAHOMA CITY, 1.596

11. CINCINNATI, 1.369

12. PHOENIX, 1.303

13. SAN ANTONIO, 0.986

14. CAROLINA, 0.960

15. NEW YORK CITY, 0.886

16. BALTIMORE, 0.881

17. DALLAS, 0.818

18. ATLANTA, 0.807

19. MIAMI, 0.764

20. WISCONSIN, 0.746

21. KANSAS CITY, 0.605

22. NEW ORLEANS, 0.599

23. SEATTLE, 0.575

24. PITTSBURGH, 0.338

25. DETROIT, 0.283

26. PORTLAND, 0.229

27. ST. LOUIS, 0.171

28. MINNEAPOLIS, 0.105

29. PHILADELPHIA, 0.044

30. TAMPA BAY, 0.026

31. INDIANAPOLIS, 0.002

31. MEMPHIS, 0.002

First, yay Houston! Here are the performances that comprise Houston's overall score of 4.633 (* denotes MVP winner, and first place votes in parentheses):

2014: NFL, J.J. Watt, 13/50 votes .. 0.260

2015: NBA, James Harden (25), 936/1300 points .. 0.720

2015: MLB, Dallas Keuchel, 107/420 points .. 0.255

2015: MLB, Jose Altuve, 44/420 points .. 0.105

2015: MLB, Carlos Correa, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2016: NBA, James Harden, 9/1310 points .. 0.007

2016: MLB, Jose Altuve, 227/420 points .. 0.540

2017: NFL, James Harden (22), 753/1010 points .. 0.746

* 2017: MLB, Jose Altuve (27), 405/420 points .. 0.964

2017: MLB, George Springer, 17/420 points .. 0.040

2017: MLB, Carlos Correa, 9/420 points .. 0.021

2017: MLB, Marwin Gonzalez, 6/420 points .. 0.014

* 2018: NBA, James Harden (86), 965/1010 points .. 0.955

My favorite parts of this study were three things:

1. Houston has just one NFL, NBA, and MLB team. There are a handful of cities or metro areas (yeah, I even let the Bay Area combine Oakland AND San Francisco, and they still couldn't win) that have two teams in multiple sports, and they still couldn't beat Houston.

2. New York City, in particular, should be absolutely embarrassed. They have two baseball, two football, and two basketball teams, and they amassed an MVP percentage total that was barely half of what Russell Westbrook did in four NBA seasons, and a few percentage points LESS than Cam Newton accomplished in winning an MVP in 2015. By this study, New York is the most overrated sports city in America, and it's not really close....

3. .... although Dallas is making a run at it. Chasing Baltimore for 16th place is no way to go through life.

For those desiring detail on each city's score, well, here you go:

2. LOS ANGELES, 3.911

2015: NBA, Paul, 124/1300 points .. 0.095

2015: NBA, Griffin, 3/1300 points .. 0.002

2015: MLB, Trout (7), 304/420 points .. 0.724

2015: MLB, Grienke, 130/420 points .. 0.310

2015: MLB, Kershaw, 49/420 points .. 0.117

2015: MLB, Gonzalez, 3/420 points .. 0.007

2016: NBA, Paul, 107/1310 points .. 0.082

* 2016: MLB, Trout (19), 356/420 points .. 0.848

2016: MLB, Seager, 240/420 points .. 0.571

2016: MLB, Turner, 44/420 points .. 0.105

2016: MLB, Grandai, 4/420 points .. 0.010

2017: MLB, Trout, 197/420 points .. 0.469

2017: MLB, Simmons, 60/420 points .. 0.143

2017: MLB, Upton, 12/420 points .. 0.029

2017: MLB, Turner, 43/420 .. 0.102

2017: MLB, Bellinger, 38/420 points .. 0.090

2017: MLB, Jensen, 8/420 points .. 0.019

2017: MLB, Kershaw, 6/420 points .. 0.014

2017: MLB, Seager, 6/420 points .. 0.014

2017: NFL, Gurley, 8/50 votes .. 0.160


3. CLEVELAND, 3.305

2015: NBA, James (5), 552/1300 points .. 0.425

2015: MLB, Kipnis, 17/420 points .. 0.040

2015: MLB, Brantley, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2016: NBA, James, 631/1310 points .. 0.482

2016: MLB, Lindor, 56/420 points .. 0.133

2016: MLB, Ramirez, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2016: MLB, Kluber, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2017: NBA, James (1), 333/1010 points .. 0.330

2017: MLB, Ramirez (1), 237/420 points .. 0.564

2017: MLB, Lindor, 143/420 points .. 0.340

2017: MLB, Kluber, 101/420 points .. 0.240

2017: MLB, Encarnacion, 4/420 points .. 0.010

2018: NBA, James (15), 738/1010 points .. 0.731


4. CHICAGO, 2.690

2015: MLB, Sale, 4/420 points .. 0.010

2015: MLB, Abreu, 3/420 points .. 0.007

2015: MLB, Rizzo, 162/420 points .. 0.386

2015: MLB, Arrieta, 134/420 points .. 0.319

2015: MLB, Bryant, 34/420 points .. 0.081

2016: MLB, Sale, 3/420 points .. 0.007

2016: MLB, Eaton, 1/420 points .. 0.002

* 2016: MLB, Bryant (29), 415/420 points .. 0.988

2016: MLB, Rizzo, 202/420 points .. 0.481

2016: MLB, Russell, 5/420 points .. 0.012

2016: MLB, Hendricks, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2017: MLB, Abreu, 16/420 points .. 0.038

2017: MLB, Bryant (1), 132/420 points .. 0.314

2017: MLB, Rizzo, 17/420 points .. 0.040


5. BOSTON, 2.618

2014: NFL, Brady, 1/50 votes .. 0.020

2015: MLB, Ortiz, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2015: MLB, Betts, 4/420 points .. 0.010

2015: NFL, Brady, 1/50 votes .. 0.020

2016: MLB, Betts, (9) 311/420 points .. 0.740

2016: MLB, Ortiz, (1) 147/420 points .. 0.350

2016: NFL, Brady, 10/50 votes .. 0.200

2017: NBA, Thomas, 81/1010 points .. 0.080

2017: MLB, Betts, 110/420 points .. 0.262

2017: MLB, Sale, 56/420 points .. 0.133

* 2017: NFL, Brady, 40/50 votes .. 0.800


6. SF BAY AREA, 2.488

* 2015: NBA, Curry (100), 1198/1300 points .. 0.922

2015: NBA, Thompson, 1/1300 points .. 0.001

2015: MLB, Posey, 84/420 points .. 0.200

* 2016: NBA, Curry (131), 1310/1310 points .. 1.000

2016: NBA, Green, 50/1310 points .. 0.038

2016: MLB, Crawford, 15/420 points .. 0.036

2016: MLB, Posey, 11/420 points .. 0.026

2016: MLB, Bumgarner, 7/420 points .. 0.017

2016: MLB, Cueto, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2016: NFL, Carr, 6/50 votes .. 0.120

2017: NBA, Curry, 52/1010 points .. 0.051

2017: NBA, Durant, 2/1010 points .. 0.002

2017: MLB, Davis, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2018: NBA, Durant, 66/1010 points .. 0.065

2018: NBA, Curry, 5/1010 points .. 0.005


7. WASH, D.C., 2.174

* 2015: MLB, Harper (30), 420/420 points .. 1.000

2016: MLB, Murphy (1), 245/420 points .. 0.583

2016: MLB, Scherzer, 39/420 points .. 0.093

2016: MLB, Ramos, 6/420 points .. 0.014

2017: NBA, Wall, 7/1010 points .. 0.007

2017: MLB, Rendon, 141/420 points .. 0.336

2017: MLB, Scherzer, 34/420 points .. 0.081

2017: MLB, Harper, 21/420 points .. 0.050

2017: MLB, Murphy, 3/420 points .. 0.007

2017: MLB, Zimmerman, 1/420 points .. 0.002

8. TORONTO, 1.887

* 2015: MLB, Donaldson (23), 385/420 points .. 0.917

2015: MLB, Bautista, 82/420 points .. 0.195

2015: MLB, Price, 62/420 points .. 0.148

2015: MLB, Encarnacion, 38/420 points .. 0.090

2015: MLB, Martin, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2016: NBA, Lowry, 6/1310 points .. 0.005

2016: MLB, Donaldson, 200/420 points .. 0.476

2016: MLB, Encarnacion, 7/420 points .. 0.017

2017: MLB, Donaldson, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2017: NBA, DeRozan, 1/1010 points .. 0.001

2018: NBA, DeRozan, 32/1010 points .. 0.032


9. DENVER, 1.771

2015: MLB, Arenado, 102/420 points .. 0.243

2016: MLB, Arenado, 199/420 points .. 0.474

2016: MLB, LeMahieu, 8/420 points .. 0.019

2016: MLB, Blackmon, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2017: MLB, Arenado (2), 229/420 points .. 0.545

2017: MLB, Blackmon (3), 205/420 points .. 0.488


10. OKLAHOMA CITY, 1.708

2015: NBA, Westbrook, 352/1300 points .. 0.271

2016: NBA, Westbrook, 486/1310 points .. 0.371

2016: NBA, Durant, 147/1310 points .. 0.112

* 2017: NBA, Westbrook (69), 888/1010 points .. 0.879

2018: NBA, Westbrook, 76/1010 points .. 0.075


11. CINCINNATI, 1.369

2015: MLB, Votto, 175/420 points .. 0.417

2016: MLB, Votto, 100/420 points .. 0.238

2017: MLB, Votto (10), 300/420 points .. 0.714

12. PHOENIX, 1.303

2015: MLB, Goldschmidt, 234/420 points .. 0.557

2015: MLB, Pollock, 21/420 points .. 0.050

2015: NFL, Palmer, 1/50 votes .. 0.020

2016: MLB, Goldschmidt, 18/420 points .. 0.043

2016: MLB, Segura, 14/420 points .. 0.033

2017: MLB, Goldschmidt (4), 239/420 points .. 0.569

2017: MLB, Martinez, 11/420 points .. 0.026

2017: MLB, Greinke, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2017: MLB, Bradley, 1/420 points .. 0.002

13. SAN ANTONIO, 0.986

2015: NBA, Duncan, 1/1300 points .. 0.001

2015: NBA, Leonard, 1/1300 points .. 0.001

2016: NBA, Leonard, 634/1310 points .. 0.484

2017: NBA, Leonard (9), 500/1010 points .. 0.495

2018: NBA, Aldridge, 6/1010 points .. 0.006


14. CAROLINA, 0.960

* 2015: NFL, Newton, 48/50 votes .. 0.960

15. NEW YORK CITY, 0.886

2015: MLB, McCann, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2015: MLB, Rodriguez, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2015: MLB, Teixeira, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2015: MLB, Cespedes, 24/420 points .. 0.057

2015: MLB, Granderson, 4/420 points .. 0.010

2016: MLB, Cespedes, 45/420 points .. 0.107

2016: MLB, Familia, 6/420 points .. 0.014

2016: MLB, Syndergaard, 5/420 points .. 0.012

2017: MLB, Judge (2), 279/420 points .. 0.664

2017: MLB, Gregorius, 4/420 points .. 0.010

2017: MLB, Sanchez, 1/420 points .. 0.002


16. BALTIMORE, 0.881

2015: MLB, Machado, 158/420 points .. 0.376

2015: MLB, Davis, 32/420 points .. 0.076

2016: MLB, Machado, 150/420 points .. 0.357

2016: MLB, Britton, 11/420 points .. 0.026

2017: MLB, Schoop, 19/420 points .. 0.045

17. DALLAS, 0.818

2014: NFL, Romo, 2/50 votes .. 0.040

2014: NFL, Murray, 2/50 votes .. 0.040

2015: MLB, Beltre, 83/420 points .. 0.198

2015: MLB, Fielder, 33/420 points .. 0.079

2016: MLB, Beltre (1), 135/420 points .. 0.321

2016: NFL, Elliott, 6/50 votes .. 0.120

2016: NFL, Prescott, 1/50 votes .. 0.020

18. ATLANTA, 0.807

2016: MLB, Freeman 129/420 points .. 0.307

* 2016: NFL, Ryan 25/50 votes .. 0.500

19. MIAMI, 0.764

2015: MLB, Gordon, 6/420 points .. 0.014

2016: MLB, Yelich, 5/420 points .. 0.012

* 2017: MLB, Stanton (10), 302/420 points .. 0.719

2017: MLB, Ozuna, 8/420 points .. 0.019


20. WISCONSIN, 0.746

* 2014: NFL, Rodgers, 31/50 votes .. 0.620

2016: MLB, Braun, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2016: NFL, Rodgers, 2/50 votes .. 0.040

2017: NBA, Antetokounmpo, 7/1010 points .. 0.007

2018: NBA, Antetokounmpo, 75/1010 points .. 0.074


21. KANSAS CITY, 0.605

2015: MLB, Cain, 225/420 points .. 0.536

2015: MLB, Morales, 7/420 points .. 0.017

2015: MLB, Moustakas, 3/420 points .. 0.007

2015: MLB, Hosmer, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2015: MLB, Davis, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2017: MLB, Hosmer, 16/420 points .. 0.038

22. NEW ORLEANS, 0.599

2015: NBA, Davis, 203/1300 points .. 0.156

2017: NBA, Davis, 2/1010 points .. 0.002

2018: NBA, Davis, 445/1010 points .. 0.441

23. SEATTLE, 0.575

2014: NFL, Wagner, 1/50 votes .. 0.020

2015: MLB, Cruz, 94/420 points .. 0.224

2016: MLB, Cano, 79/420 points .. 0.188

2016: MLB, Seager, 10/420 points .. 0.024

2016: MLB, Cruz, 6/420 points .. 0.014

2017: MLB, Cruz, 44/420 points .. 0.105

24. PITTSBURGH, 0.338

2015: MLB, McCutchen, 139/420 points .. 0.331

2015: MLB, Cole, 3/420 points .. 0.007

25. DETROIT, 0.283

2015: MLB, Cabrera, 40/420 points .. 0.095

2015: MLB, Martinez, 18/420 points .. 0.043

2015: MLB, Kinsler, 3/420 points .. 0.007

2016: MLB, Cabrera, 56/420 points .. 0.133

2016: MLB, Verlander, 2/420 points .. 0.005


26. PORTLAND, 0.229

2015: NBA, Aldridge, 6/1300 points .. 0.005

2016: NBA, Lillard, 26/1310 points .. 0.020

2018: NBA, Lillard, 207/1010 points .. 0.205


27. ST. LOUIS, 0.171

2015: MLB, Carpenter, 26/420 points .. 0.062

2015: MLB, Heyward, 15/420 points .. 0.036

2015: MLB, Rosenthal, 5/420 points .. 0.012

2016: MLB, Molina, 2/420 points .. 0.005

2017: MLB, Pham, 24/420 points .. 0.057


28. MINNEAPOLIS, 0.105

2015: MLB, Dozier, 1/420 points .. 0.002

2016: MLB, Dozier, 9/420 points .. 0.021

2017: MLB, Dozier, 25/420 points .. 0.060

2017: MLB, Buxton, 7/420 points .. 0.017

2018: NBA, Butler, 5/1010 points .. 0.005

29. PHILADELPHIA, 0.044

2017: NFL, Wentz, 2/50 votes .. 0.040

2018: NBA, Embiid, 4/1010 points .. 0.004

30. TAMPA BAY, 0.026

2015: MLB, Kiermaier, 10/420 points .. 0.024

2016: MLB, Longoria, 1/420 points .. 0.002

31 (tie). INDIANAPOLIS, 0.002

2018: NBA, Oladipo, 2/1010 points .. 0.002


31 (tie). MEMPHIS, 0.002

2015: NBA, Gasol, 3/1300 points .. 0.002

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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