Earlier today, Major League Baseball updated the results for this year’s All Star Game voting process. The Astros essentially have just one player whose name deserves to be in contention with the best players from this season. But with Howie Kendrick in 5th with 247,353 votes for second base, Jose Altuve appears far from being elected to the team.
Jose Altuve has been one of the best second basemen in all of Major League Baseball this season. It is time for Houston to stop having players being represented because of a mandated rule. With a little bit of effort, since fans are responsible for the All Star game starters, the Face of the Astros should be voted to go to Minneapolis.
And he should lead-off the home half of the first inning.
Obviously this is a high bar to set. But the fans have to start supporting the team again. Let us start by showing the rest of the country what Jose Altuve is capable of doing on a day-to-day basis. Here are my top five reasons to have Jose Altuve start at 2nd base in the 2014 Midsummer Classic.
1. MLB Hits Leader
Through June 1st, Jose Altuve had established himself hitting for average this season. Besides having a .318 batting average, Altuve currently leads all of Major League Baseball in hits with 78. Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays sits in second with 74. The National League is eventually represented in fifth with Paul Goldschmidt‘s 70. That batting average of .318 also ranks 11th in all of MLB. Among second basemen his batting average is trailing just Robinson Cano and Chase Utley.
The Astros have been aching to have a solid performer for several seasons. The youth movement has led to platoons at several positions. With Jose Altuve establishing himself as a solid everyday player, there is only one other Astro who can continually be relied on to be ready to play every day. Altuve has played in each of the Astros 58 games this season. With just under 2/3 of the season to go, I really hope he is able to stay healthy and achieve his goal of playing 162 this season.
3. American League Leader in Stolen Bases
Speed is one of the best tools for a player to have. It really cannot be taught. With Jose Altuve batting at the top-of-the-order, the Astros have a guy who can beat out infield hits. That speed along with being on base at a decent clip has enabled him to steal 20 bases this season. Dee Gordon of the Dodgers leads MLB with 34 while Billy Hamilton of the Reds has 20 to tie Jose. But in the American League 20 steals is good for first.
4. Amazing Defender
He recently made an error running into right field to make a catch. That was the first time he had been charged with an error in nearly 90 games dating back to the 2013 season. A fielding percentage of .997 is 16th among qualified players in the AL. Eric Sogard, albeit with 324 1/3 innings this season, has a perfect fielding percentage among second basemen. Altuve actually has played 2B for 507 2/3 innings and is most for AL 2B.
5. Best Lead Off Hitter in American League
When the American League All Star team starts the bottom of the first, they are going to need some people on base for sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz. Miguel Cabrera is also expected to be present somewhere in that lineup. Jose Altuve is an excellent pick to bat first. Among AL players with a minimum of 180 at bats from the leadoff spot, Altuve leads them with a .333 batting average. His 61 hits from that spot in the order is tied with Orioles right-fielder Nick Markasis. Again under condition of at least 180 AB’s from #1, Altuve leads in doubles with 15, stolen bases with 15, and has struck out the fewest times with just 11 strikeouts in 183 at-bats.
Jose has been fun to watch both at the plate and in the field this season. There are some perennial all stars at second base that he is challenging quite well this season. In order for Altuve to start getting recognition, Houston’s fans have to start voting at MLB.com.
Hypothetically the Face of the Astros can get all the votes he needs to surpass Cano in one day. But that is highly improbable. So go check out the ballot and start voting every day. Tell your friends, too. Houston is going to be back on the map pretty soon. Why not make a statement July 15th, 2014?