Jose Altuve was called up by the Houston Astros in July of 2011 and knew immediately they had found their future second baseman. It wasn’t like Altuve put up eye-popping numbers during those first 57 games but the coaches and management saw what this kid was capable of. One major factor they saw was that he hustled on every single play whether it was at the plate or playing defense on the field. Standing tall at 5’6 Altuve knew in order to get ahead in this sport that he’d have to work twice as hard as the competition. This man personifies heart and hustle and his energizer bunny ability has turned the MVP candidate into one of the best players in Major League Baseball.
They say good things come in small packages and size doesn’t matter! Those words are usually used to make someone feel better about being short in stature or a cheap anniversary gift if you’re a bad spouse. Well, no way Jose! he doesn’t need your pity! He’s the shortest active player in the majors and could be the best among his normal-sized peers.
The easiest way to find out if a player has the goods or not is to simply watch them play their sport. Of course, statistics are important and a barometer to measure an athletes success, however, numbers don’t tell you the full story. Statistics can’t tell you intangible factors like a players heart or even how he will sacrifice his personal stats for his teammates. Stats can’t produce results like decision making or even a crucial double play late in the game. It just goes in the books as two players being called out. The list goes on in scroll formation since baseball has been around since Alexander the Great conquered the known world.
Just so I can amuse those stat geeks, here’s a brief synopsis of Jose Altuve’s numbers since he played 147 games in 2012 and became a full-time starter. He notched 167 base hits along with 33 stolen bases and a .290 batting average. His numbers were almost identical the following season which made Houston happy but Jose was just getting started.
In 2014 Altuve led the majors in hits with 225 and has held that title for the past four seasons. Let me write that again – Jose Altuve has led Major League Baseball in hits four years in a row! Are you kidding me!
He’s not known as a power hitter but he puts the bat on the ball so well that he’s able to nail the sweet spot and get that extra power. He hit 24 home runs last year and then again this season where he’ll likely win the MVP of the American League. In addition to his 24 homers, the 2nd baseman had 204 hits, 81 RBI’s and 32 stolen bases. Oh, yea, pardon me I forgot to mention Altuve won his 3rd batting title in the past four seasons with a career-best .346 average. Check out his full list of stats as you number guys will love this!
This will be Altuve’s 4th season as a Silver Slugger and made his 5th All-Star game earlier this year. Altuve put his name on the map in 2014 with his best season to date. He led the league in three major categories smashing 225 base hits, batted .341 and stole 56 bases. The following season he won the Golden Glove award at 2nd base. Obviously, that means the little big man can play some excellent defense as well. And now he has helped lead the Houston Astros back to the World Series for the first time since they were swept by the White Sox in 2005 when they were still in the National League.
Jose Altuve is only 27 years old with plenty of gas left in the tank. Now it’s the Astro’s front office that needs to decide how valuable they view Altuve over the next 5 – 7 years. Houston has him in the cheap right now as he makes almost the league minimum at around $650,000 over the next two years. So will Houston have a problem if they don’t take care of their best player in the very near future? Absolutely! Especially if the Astro’s win the World Series. They’ll need to reward Altuve’s dominance and amazing clutch performances if they wish to keep him. He’s an unrestricted free agent in 2020 but Houston better take care of him financially or he’ll walk and get a ton of cash from the Yankees.
Players like Altuve don’t come around often. He may be 5’6 but he plays like a giant. No fear, full of desire, incredible talent, hustles every play, he’s very intelligent about the game and plays it like he loves it. One way or another, this man needs to be rewarded for what he’s done and likely will do. At 27 he has plenty of potentially great years left to go. It will be interesting to see what Houston decides to do. As crazy as it sounds, don’t rule out a trade next season if management decides they don’t want to give him millions of dollars. It’s a cruel business. Maybe players should get paid on a scale according to their stats because in three years from now Altuve will slowly begin to decline. Not right away of course. But it’s safe to say that between the ages of 23 – 30 are your absolute prime as a physical athlete.