Altuve collected 27 of 30 first-place votes, with Judge — who won the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award on Monday — placing second. In the National League, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton took the honor, with Cincinnati’s Joey Votto the runner-up. Stanton and Votto both received 10 first-place votes, and Stanton edged Votto by just two points in the closest M.V.P. vote since 1979.
No M.V.P. has ever been taller than Stanton, who is 6 feet 6 inches. And only two previous winners — Phil Rizzuto in 1950 and Bobby Shantz in 1952 — have been as short as Altuve, who is 5 feet 6 inches.
“It’s kind of crazy and hard to believe,” Altuve said. “On the other side, Stanton won the National League M.V.P. being 6- 6, and how strong he is. And now, you go to the American League, and I think I’m the smallest player in the big leagues. I weigh 160, I’m not too strong, and that’s what I love about baseball — it gives the opportunity to every single guy to develop and play the game. There’s not a rule that you have to be 6-foot or you have to be real strong to play baseball and to become a good player.”
Altuve, 27, long ago shed the label of undersized curiosity. He is the game’s best pure hitter, leading the A.L. in hits in each of the last four seasons while capturing three batting titles. This year’s .346 average was a career-high, and he also set career highs for on-base percentage (.410), slugging percentage (.547) and runs scored (112), while hitting 24 homers, driving in 81 runs and stealing 32 bases. He is the second Astro to be named M.V.P., after Jeff Bagwell in 1994.
His primary competition for the award, Judge, led the A.L. in homers (52) and runs (128) to go with 114 R.B.I. He also led in walks (127) and strikeouts (208), embodying the all-or-nothing ethos of many modern hitters. Judge’s slow start to the second half (a .179 average from mid-July through the end of August) probably hurt him compared to Altuve, whose average didn’t fall below .330 after July 4.
In the N.L., Stanton prevailed on the strength of his 59 homers and 132 R.B.I., which led the major leagues. Stanton led the N.L. in slugging for the third time, but this was his first season with more than 37 homers; injuries have often kept him from playing a full schedule.
He is the first M.V.P. in the 25 seasons of the Marlins, a franchise in transition whose new ownership group — led by the chief executive Derek Jeter — is trying to trade Stanton and his exorbitant contract. Stanton, 28, has 10 years and $295 million remaining on his record 13-year, $325 million deal, which includes a full no-trade clause.
Despite that clause, which would allow Stanton to control his destination, Jeter said at the owners’ meetings Wednesday that he had not yet spoken to his star right fielder. Moving Stanton is just part of the reconstruction plan for the Marlins, whose last winning season was 2009, the year before Stanton’s major league debut.
“It’s an interesting feeling for me, because this is the only place I’ve known,” Stanton said. “But I also understand the business part of it and the direction that new ownership wants to go. They’re feeling it out, and we’re gonna try to figure out a plan here.”
Asked if he would give the Marlins a list of teams to which he would accept a trade, Stanton said he would “worry about certain things when the time comes” and keep the process private. But a trade would seem inevitable, because Stanton did say he wants the Marlins to build up the roster, not tear it down.
“It needs to be thoroughly addressed, not just somewhat addressed,” Stanton said, referring specifically to the Marlins’ patchwork pitching staff. “There needs to be a huge push now.”
Asked if that were viable for the Marlins, who are desperately trying to cut payroll, Stanton said, “I’m not entirely sure, to be honest, but I know all teams have plenty of money.”
Stanton earned his money with the promise of seasons like this, in which he exploded for 18 homers in August to challenge a mark he said he considered the true home run record: Roger Maris’ 61 in 1961.
Before Maris, only Babe Ruth had hit 59 homers in a season, with 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927. But from 1998 through 2001, three players cleared that plateau: Sammy Sosa three times, Mark McGwire twice and Barry Bonds in 2001, when he smashed a record 73. Baseball began testing for steroids in 2003, making Stanton’s 59 homers the most in the testing era.
Stanton finished just shy of Maris, but he made a strong enough impression to narrowly win the M.V.P. Award, a high point in a week of uncertainty — about where he would finish in the voting, and where he might play next.
“There’s a lot of thoughts going on,” Stanton said, “but luckily, I don’t have to worry about playing at 7:00 every night during those thoughts.”