Even though he is incredibly popular in his native Venezuela, Jose Altuve will not be participating in Winter Ball there this off-season. And it is the right decision.
Prior to this year, Altuve had long been part of Magallenes, but that will come to an end this season. After a disappointing 2013 that saw the second baseman take a slight step backwards, I think he will be better served by skipping the extra game action this winter. Altuve no longer needs to prove himself by playing in more games, he was a 2012 All-Star and the recipient of a contract extension last season, but he does need to have a bounce back season.
After battling a hamstring injury and other assorted bumps and bruises last season, Altuve could use the rest. He played in 147 games in 2012, and the second baseman followed that up with 152 games last season. Then add in the extra pounding in winter ball, and you have a tired player. Now, according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Altuve will return to Houston in January as he gets ready for 2014.
Last season, Altuve batted .283 which was down from .290 in 2012 while driving in 52 runs which was an improvement on the prior year where he drove in 37 runs. Altuve also increased his stolen base total from 33 to 35.
I know, listing out the statistics almost contradicts my point about Altuve having a down season and needing to bounceback. We might be a little hard on the young second baseman, but his performance without taking statistics into account was not as good.
Regardless, I think Altuve will improve next season, and the decision to skip winter ball will prove to be a prudent one.