The point of the Around the Horn series is to dissect the possibilities of who will start the season at each position. Fortunately for the Astros and unfortunately for me, second base is one of the few secure positions on the roster, thus making it possibly the hardest to write about. There is little, well, no speculation as to who this will be on Opening Day. That said, we’ll talk a little bit about the man, his past accolades, and his future.
Jose Altuve debuted on July 19, 2011, and I was actually able to see him play in Chicago at Wrigley Field just days later. Originally listed at 5’7″, I knew this was in fact an embellishment. I was able to stand mere feet away from this man at Wrigley and his size is almost unimaginable. It’s amazing to look at his size and think, “THIS GUY is a Major League All Star?” Well, he is.
Despite being the shortest current active player (5’5″), Altuve has done nothing but hit, hit and then hit some more. After signing as an undrafted free agent in 2006, he hit .343 in the Venezuelen summer league and came to the United States in 2008 and started his tenure with the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League. His minor league career peaked in 2011 when he hit .408 with 19 steals in 52 games for Lancaster, and was then promoted to Corpus Christi where he hit .361, and finished with an overall line of .389 with 24 steals, 26 walks and 40 strikeouts in 357 at-bats for the season. This season helped him earn the Houston Astros Minor League Player of the Year Award, as well as being named to Baseball America’s 2011 Minor League All Star team and the World Futures Team.
Altuve’s sophomore season was filled with many ups and few downs. He was the Astros lone representative at the 2012 All Star game and he boasted a .290 average while swatting seven home runs and stealing 33 bases. I am personally a fan of Tim Kurkjian and his fun facts. While this did not come from him, here is a fun Altuve fact:
On May 1, 2012, he faced Jon Rauch, who at 6’11” is the tallest player in Major League history. The 18″ height differential is believed to be the biggest between pitcher and batter with exception of a 1951 publicity stunt in which a 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel had one at bat for the St. Louis Browns.
Altuve has quickly become a fan favorite and has almost a cult following. He even has a web site and Twitter account dedicated to him (@HowManyAltuves), though I am now curious as to whether their measurements are or were based off of his original posted height of 5’7″ or his true and corrected height!
In conclusion, the future does seem to be bright for this young star. While probably not untouchable, his position with the Astros is almost certainly secure and his combination of a high batting average, speed and defense make him a player that we can watch and the team can build around for many years to come.