HOUSTON -- In a season in which he provided the catalyst to the Astros' offense all year long and posted career-high numbers in several offensive categories, All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve earned a third-place finish in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
Altuve, who won his second AL batting title in three years and set career highs in homers (24), RBIs (96), slugging percentage, total bases and OPS, landed third behind winner Mike Trout of the Angels, who took home his second AL MVP Award, and Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, who finished second in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Trout received 19 first-place votes for 356 points, besting Betts' 311 points and nine first-place votes. Altuve was third with 227 points, including two second-place votes, 15 third-place votes and 11 fourth-place votes.
By finishing third, Altuve is the first Astros position player to finish in the top five in MVP voting since Lance Berkman was fifth in the National League in 2008 (pitcher Dallas Keuchel was fifth in the AL last year). The only Astros player to win an MVP Award was Jeff Bagwell in the NL in 1994.
This offseason has already seen Altuve voted by his peers as the winner of the Players Choice Award as the 2016 Player of the Year, as well as the Outstanding Player in the AL. He was also named Sporting News Player of the Year, which covers both leagues, won his third AL Silver Slugger Award at second base and was named Astros MVP by the Houston Chapter of the BBWAA.
"He's the epitome of everything that's right around the Astros," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's a great example, he's a hard worker, he will play selflessly and never take any of the credit and will want all the blame. He's a great example for all of our players on how to be excellent, and I think this season showed what kind of impact he's had with the caliber of awards he was up for."
Altuve, 26, was likely the frontrunner for the award entering September, but he batted .276 with two homers and seven RBIs in 29 games during the final month of the season as the Astros' postseason hopes faded. He never batted lower than .333 in any other month from May through August.
Altuve, who started at second base for the AL in the All-Star Game, led the league in batting average, hits (216) and four-hit games (eight), tied for first in three-hit games (23), ranked second in multihit games (63), tied for second in stolen bases (30), tied for third in doubles (42) and WAR (7.6), was fourth in on-base percentage (.396) and total bases (340), was fifth in OPS (.928) and seventh in runs (108).
Altuve hit .341 in the first half (a whopping .420 in June) and .333 in the second half. He hit .348 against right-handers, .306 against lefties. He batted .330 in the leadoff spot, .342 in the No. 2 hole and .341 in the three-hole, where he spent most of the season. Altuve batted .372 with runners in scoring position and .376 on the road, which led the Majors and was the highest of any hitter since Ichiro Suzuki hit .405 on the road in 2004.
The MLB Awards -- following league-specific recognition by BBWAA voters, whose ballots are based on regular-season play -- include candidates from both leagues (with postseason performance taken into consideration). MLB Awards are based on votes by retired players, broadcasters/reporters, team executives, Society of American Baseball Research members and fans, with each group accounting for 20 percent of the process. Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 7 p.m. CT. MLB Awards categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.