Baseball's stealth contenders for 2018
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In 2017, a lot of the teams everyone expected to be top teams went on to unsurprisingly win their divisions. Nobody looked at the Dodgers-Astros World Series and rhetorically asked, "Who woulda thunk it?" But teams such as the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Twins were surprises for many, and those stories tend to be the most fun.

So, who are 2018's stealth contenders who can go on a deep run into playoff contention if enough realistic things go right? I'm not talking about teams we're certain will be good; if we know it's coming, it's not exactly that stealthy, is it? Who could be 2018's version of the Twins?

Altuve, one of only a handful Danny Amendola Authentic Jersey of players who endured the Astros' painful rebuilding process en route to this year's championship, which gave hope to a city ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, was chosen as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Results of voting by United States editors and news directors was announced Wednesday. Altuve, a 5-foot-6 dynamo, got 715 points, beating out New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (646) and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (626).A decade after the Braves left Milwaukee for Atlanta, Aaron returned as a member of the Brewers in 1975. Because the Brewers were an American League team, the then-home run king was able to extend his career by two seasons -- and add http://www.officialseahawksfootball.com/YOUTH+SHELDON+RICHARDSON+JERSEY 22 home runs to his career total -- while playing in the city where his major league career had started in 1954.

Altuve is a five-time All-Star who led the majors with Mika Zibanejad Youth jersey a career-high .346 batting average, and his 204 hits topped the American League. He is the first player in MLB history to lead his league in hits in four straight seasons. He tied a career-best with 24 homers Blake Comeau Jersey and had 81 RBIs. He was second in the AL by scoring 112 runs, his on-base percentage of .410 ranked third, he was third with 32 steals and his .547 slugging percentage ranked sixth.

His work made him the second Astro to win an MVP award, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, who picked up the National League honor in 1994. Altuve carried his stellar regular season into the postseason, where he paced the Astros in their ALDS win over the Boston Red Sox by hitting .533 with an outrageous 1.133 slugging percentage.

Altuve spent his early years with the Astros toiling in relative obscurity; Houston lost 100-plus games in each of his first three major league seasons, from 2011 to 2013. There was no denying his superstar status this season, as the Astros won 101 games, and he became one of the best stories early in the postseason when he hit three homers in their Game 1 win over Boston.

That performance made him just the 10th player in major league history and first since 2012 to hit three homers in a playoff game. Altuve's story of once being sent home from a tryout because he was too short has been well documented as he has risen to fame. But on the day his huge game led the Astros to that playoff win, he perfectly summed up the mindset he has carried since that setback.

"As soon as I cross the white line, I feel the same size as everyone else," he said. Altuve's grit and determination is evident every time he takes the field. His teammates marvel at the fact that no matter how good he is, he's always looking to do better. "He has four hits and he's like, 'Carlos I never had a five-hit game before, let me try to get the fifth hit,'" shortstop Carlos Correa said. "He's always striving for more. And that's http://www.seahawksofficialsproshop.com/Jarran-Reed-Jersey what I've learned from him that makes me better every single day."

Altuve, who grew up in Venezuela, considers Houston his second home after spending his entire professional career with the Astros. He took great pride in wearing the Houston Strong patch on his uniform throughout the playoffs as a reminder of what the city went through during the storm and how difficult the rebuilding process would be. He said people approach him often to say thank you for helping the Astros win their first title and for being a bright spot in such a difficult time.

We had the responsibility of making it happen for the city," the 27-year-old said. "We wanted to win the World Series for the city. We just wanted to try to see a smile from them." Since winning the World Series, Altuve has been welcomed to Disney World by Mickey Mouse, been a guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and been named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year along with Texans star J.J. Watt. Despite all this, Altuve has remained the same humble, soft-spoken man he was when he first broke into the majors in 2011.

"I don't think I'm the face of the city or the Houston Astros," he said. "I'm just another guy who is playing hard to make dreams come true. My dream was to win the World Series, and I know the fans' dream was to win the World Series as well. So we are on the same page, and I really enjoy my time in Houston."


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