Jose Altuve is the AL Co-Player of the Week, and once more reminds us that greatness comes in all shapes and sizes.
Jose Altuve spoils us. Again and again. With his quickness. With his instincts. With his relentless desire to be great. If you drew up everything you’d want in a baseball player, he might look exactly like Jose Altuve.
You’d throw in some added hunger which is a byproduct of having been told he wasn’t good enough. Remember that the Astros, like every other team, sent Altuve away from his first tryout camp in Venezuela. Only after they took another look were they able to focus on what he was instead of what he wasn’t.
To make the most difficult game on earth look so easy is an incredible accomplishment. And Altuve has been so good for so long that we take him for granted.
When the Astros made their first postseason appearance in a decade last season, we were so taken by Carlos Correa’s gifts and Dallas Keuchel’s greatness that it was easy to overlook the little guy.
Now about that. Altuve is 5-foot-6. This has hindered him, but not in the way you think. Sure, it kept some teams from signing him.
Beyond that, his height became the focus of his early seasons with the Astros. ESPN almost made him famous, but in concentrating on that one thing, it was easy to overlook that this is a really good baseball player.
Scouts say you can watch hitters for a long time and not see another one with hands as quick as Altuve’s. He simply has the God-given ability to get the bat into the hitting zone faster than others.
He led the American League in hits and stolen bases for a second straight season. He also hit 15 home runs, which is more than twice as many as he’d ever hit before.
That additional power is part of the continuing evolution of his game, which should be no surprise to anyone know who knows how badly he wants to continue to improve and to walk away as one of the great hitters ever.
He won that first batting title two years ago and is still only 25 years old. But in the first two weeks of this young season, he has been better than ever before.
He’s way more selective at the plate, which is reflective of a .397 OBP. His OPS is 1.024, also the highest of his career.
Given that he’s more selective at the plate, he’s putting himself into more hitter-friendly counts. As a result, he has four home runs already and a .627 slugging percentage.
He hit .208 on the Astros opening road trip to New York and Milwaukee. When the club came home, he got hot, and in seven games against the Royals and Tigers, he batted .407.
For that, he was named AL Co-Player of the Week with Orioles OF Mark Trumbo. Altuve also had three doubles, three home runs and two stolen bases.