Jose Altuve of the Astros was named American League MVP and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins took home the honor in the National League yesterday. Altuve received 27 of 30 first place votes to easily outpace Aaron Judge in a race that wasn’t as close as most thought it might be. The undersized second baseman slashed .346/.410/.547 with 24 home runs and 32 steals.
The NL race was much tighter despite a monstrous season by Stanton. The big outfielder received 10 first place votes, but so did Joey Votto of the Reds; only one second place and one third place separated the two. Stanton finished 2017 just one home run short of 60.
For the first time since the World Series ended there is no new news to report on Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. If you need a Pacific Rim baseball fix, Nippon Professional Baseball announced their Best Nine Award winners for both the Central and Pacific Leagues. There are actually 10 winners in each league because they use a designated hitter. Ohtani plays for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the Pacific League but was not among the award winners.
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed up games next year with or without an agreement with the players’ association. Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the 2017 regular season and 3:29 during the postseason. Experts are also looking into the specifications of baseballs after a record 6,105 home runs were hit this season, and owners were updated about team decisions on expanded protective netting.
Commissioner Rob Manfred touched own both topics after yesterday’s quarterly owners’ meetings. Manfred also mentioned that he still wants to see baseball return to Montreal, and that Tampa and Oakland appear to be making progress on new stadiums that would allow both teams to remain in their respective cities.
Cubs News & Notes
For the first time in three years the Cubs aren’t significantly raising ticket prices. The price of a ticket will only go up about 40 cents on average. The primary exception is the American Airlines 1914 underground club seats, which didn’t exist last year. Those nearly 700 seats that are a part of the elite club setting will go for about $400 to $695 a game. The Athletic has all the details and this article is available to subscribers as well as non-subscribers.
As expected, pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis rejected qualifying offers from the Cubs. In fact, all nine players who received qualifying offers rejected them.
The Cubs have interest in signing relief pitcher Brandon Morrow. Addison Reed may also be a target.
The Chicago White Sox acquired fireballing relief pitcher Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. His fastball has been clocked as high as 104 mph, though Vieira can best be described as effectively wild, having walked 22 batters in 54 innings. Seattle received international bonus pool money from the White Sox in an effort to leverage resources for a possible attempt at signing Ohtani.
This year’s hot stove has been lukewarm at best, possibly because major league baseball front offices are awaiting a finalized posting agreement for Ohtani.
The 2018 Competitive Balance Draft Order has been set. If Alex Cobb signs elsewhere, the Rays will have six of the top 72 picks. The Pirates secured the highest competitive balance pick (31) in next year’s draft.
Scott Boras wants economic penalties for teams that cut payroll.
The New York Yankees hope to have former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres on their major league roster at some point next season.
You can get a good look at baseball’s future by watching this season’s Arizona Fall League Championship Game, which will feature outfielders Ronald Acuña of the Atlanta Braves and Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals.
Yesterday’s Baseball Notes column from John Heyman recaps the GM Meetings for all 30 MLB teams.
Friday Walk Up Song
Hope by Shaggy. Probably because I fell asleep watching For The Love of The Game.