Astros Land Four Finalists for Heavy Hardware
The Astros, who led the Majors with a club-record 107 wins, are poised to take home some hardware after four players — third baseman Alex Bregman, pitchers Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez — were named finalists for Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards.
Bregman joins the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Athletics’ Marcus Semien as finalists for the American League MVP Award. Alvarez is the favorite for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, joining Rays infielder Brandon Lowe and Orioles pitcher John Means as finalists. Verlander and Cole are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award with the Rays’ Charlie Morton, who was their teammate in Houston in 2018.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We’re going to expect to have at least a couple of victories in the voting. It will probably be a photo finish in the MVP. Just an incredible group of guys being recognized for the individual things they’ve done, and they deserve it. I’ll be pulling hard for them.”
Bregman, who hit .296, led all AL players in WAR (8.4) and walks (119), ranked second in on-base percentage (.423), third in slugging percentage (.592) and OPS (1.015), tied for third in homers (41), was fourth in runs (122) and fifth in RBIs (112). Bregman also started 59 games at shortstop in addition to his 91 starts at third base.
“He’s certainly made a case for it, and especially after Trout got hurt, he put up pretty amazing numbers,” Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We’ll see what happens, but he’s certainly going to get a lot of consideration.”
Cole went 20-5 and led the AL in ERA (2.50), strikeouts (326) and K’s per nine innings (13.8, a Major League record) while throwing 212 1/3 innings. He finished the season on a 16-game winning streak, including a Major League-record nine consecutive double-digit strikeout games. Cole was the fourth player in Major League history to have at least 21 double-digit strikeout games.
Verlander, who is seeking his second Cy Young, went 21-6 and led the Majors in wins, opponents’ batting average (.172), innings pitched (223) and WHIP (0.80) while ranking second behind Cole in the AL with a 2.58 ERA. He reached 300 strikeouts for the first time in his career while throwing his third career no-hitter in a season in which he reached 3,000 career strikeouts.
“It’s going to be a close finish,” Luhnow said. “I don’t know who’s going to win it, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be someone who played for us this year. I’m just holding my breath and anticipating like everybody else. They both deserve it. Maybe they’ll be co-[winners]. That will be nice.”
Alvarez made his debut June 9 and hit .313 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in 87 games. He led MLB rookies in on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.655) and OPS (1.067), which was the highest by a rookie since Shoeless Joe Jackson (1.058) in 1911. His 78 RBIs ranked as the seventh-highest total through a player’s first 87 games.
“He should get recognition for what he did, but mostly I’m just excited he’s going to be back next year hitting the ball hard for our team,” Luhnow said.
The AL Rookie of the Year will be announced next Monday, the Cy Young winner will be revealed Nov. 13 and the MVP on Nov. 14 – all on MLB Network.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.