Before It sounds like I am anti-Altuve let me say that I love his story and do think he has a chance to become a significant player in the Astros’ future. Now with that out of the way, I am far from sold on the little guy and more than just a little worried Ed Wade might have done more harm than good last year. Wade decided to bring up Jose Altuve in July of last season after only a few ABs with Corpus. After an initial rush, Altuve would settle down and put up respectable numbers for a guy that started the season playing single A ball. The issues with Altuve are fairly obvious and nothing he hasn’t heard throughout his time in pro ball. But can he continue to overcome them at the big league level like he has at the minor league level?
My biggest concern with Altuve is his strike zone discipline. It doesn’t take advanced metrics to see that Jose swings at everything, I mean everything. Right from his first MLB AB it was obvious that Altuve would swing at any pitch he could reach and some he couldn’t. That is going to be a major concern because at his height Altuve needs to learn to take a pitch or two and work the count. Walks must become a part of his game because pitchers will learn to never throw him a strike and his average will continue to sink. Even if he could maintain his average around .300, without a few walks throw in somewhere, it will turn into a very hollow batting average.
Another issue that has to be addressed is Altuve’s defense, while okay, it’s not great. This is where his size becomes an issue, he can make the routine play pretty consistently but his range will be challenged. Original I wanted to avoid a certain comparison but after watching him play for two months it may be spot on, at least defensively. The guy reminds me of David Eckstein, good defender but not the strongest arm with similar range to Altuve. I wanted to avoid it because I want Jose to be more than just a role player but in the long run that may be all he becomes.
Altuve is still very young and was rushed to the major leagues, hence my earlier comment about Wade. While there is still plenty of time, the problem that is going to arise is how do you change something that has worked so well for so long . He has hit at every level and hit well so convincing him to show more discipline at the plate will be a challenge. There is nothing you can do with his physical limitations but there has to be a worry as to whether it may eventually catch up with him, at the highest level.