Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros have grown together, enduring an arduous rebuild and coming out the other side among baseball's best. These days, nobody is standing taller. Altuve won the American League MVP award Thursday, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin and capping Houston's championship season with another piece of hardware. Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP, edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds in the closest vote since 1979. The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "I was surprised that I won it," Altuve said. "I wasn't expecting this." Altuve batted a major-league-best .346. He had 204 hits, 24 home runs and 81 RBIs for the World Series champion Astros. It's been over a decade since Altuve signed with Houston from Venezuela -- only after he was sent home from one tryout and told he was too short. "They told me not to come back," Altuve said. "It was something me and my dad, he went with me that day, we were like, 'We have to go again. We have to try again.'" "It's not a rule that you have to be 6-foot or you have to be really strong to play baseball and become a good player," he added. Altuve beat out a player who couldn't be more different. The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs. Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. Altuve said on ESPN's SportsCenter that winning the MVP has fueled him for years to come. "Winning the MVP has made me want to keep getting better and keep helping my team for the next whatever years." Altuve is one of two second basemen in MLB history to hit .330 in a season with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, along with Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (once). Altuve has done it in each of the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Altuve is the second Astros player to win an MVP, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in 1994.