Jose Altuve (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Last night, Jose Altuve finished off the greatest batting season in Houston Astros history. The second baseman went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI in the season finale against the New York Mets to secure the team’s first ever batting title in 52 years and officially set the single-season franchise hits record at 225.
Altuve beat out Tigers slugger Victor Martinez (.335) by six points on his way to making Astros history. He became just the second player (Ichiro in 2001) since 1945 to lead the American League in batting average (.341), hits (225), and stolen bases (56). He is also the first MLB player with 220 hits, 55 extra base hits, and 55 stolen bases in a season since Ty Cobb. in 1917.
Altuve had 47 doubles, 59 RBIs and cut his strikeouts down to just 53 this season. He led MLB in multihit games (69) and three-hit games (19), while also having a .986 fielding percentage and 6.0 WAR. Altuve had the most hits by a second baseman in a single season since 1936 and joined Joe Mauer (2006) and Alex Rodriguez (1996) as the only AL players 24-years-old or younger to win a batting title in the last 20 seasons.
Now, the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Rays are the only teams without a batting champ in MLB history. The Astros did have some problems handling Altuve’s situation on Sunday. After a meeting with front office members and interim manager Tom Lawless, Altuve wasn’t listed in the team’s lineup. However, the Astros quickly changed their decision after an outcry in the media and on social media.
"More numbers on Altuve:Home: .366Away: .318vs. RHP: .319vs. LHP: .414April: .276May: .357June: .411July: .324August: .325September: .367"
I’m glad they allowed Altuve to finish the season off the right way. With the way the gritty 5-foot-6 All-Star plays the game, it wouldn’t have felt right watching him win it from the dugout. Altuve is everything you want a professional athlete and franchise cornerstone to be about. He loves the game of baseball and plays it the right way. If he wanted to play, the Astros owed it to him to send him out there.
Houston was 70-92 this season, so they ended up making a terrific 19-game improvement from last year, while also showing signs of a very bright future ahead. However, this season will always be remembered for the way Jose Altuve played. The greatest batting season in Houston Astros history. What a performance.