If you’re like me, you can’t wait for baseball to begin, so what better way to start looking ahead than playing a little over/under in relation to next year’s statistics. Our first candidate is Jose Altuve, quite arguably the face of the Astros franchise. 2014 was a career year for Altuve, batting .341 with a .377 on-base percentage, 7 home runs (tied career high), 59 rbi and 56 stolen bases. In 2014, Altuve was the little engine that could do no wrong. Will 2015 be a repeat of these career numbers, or will our second baseman come back down to his career averages? Let’s play over/under!
It may not seem like much, but Altuve’s 225 hits last season ranks 56th all-time in a single season. Ichiro Suzuki is the only current player that has compiled more hits in a single season, and Altuve’s 225 last year ties Ty Cobb‘s 1917 season, and is one shy of Cobb’s 1912 season. This isn’t meant to compare the two, but just to provide a reference point for how special Jose Altuve was in 2014.
It would be silly to expect him to replicate that hit total again in 2015, with his previous career-high being 177 in a single season. Let’s set the bar high, but not too high. Over or under 200 hits in 2015?
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Jose Altuve hit .341 last season, which is well above his career average of .302. Before 2014, his highest average in a season had been .290 in 2012. Last season, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) stood at .360, and his batting average wasn’t too far behind that mark. It’s possible that Altuve has turned a corner in his approach, but his walk total was still fairly low, at 36. Not reaching base via the walk means that he needs balls to find holes to reach base at a high clip. It’s also a possibility that teams will begin shifting to the right spot on Altuve, and his batting average will suffer because of this.
FanGraphs is projecting a .300 average for Altuve in 2015. That seems like a good starting point, so over or under a .300 average for Jose Altuve in 2015?
Hit totals, batting average, and of course, stolen bases. Altuve’s 56 steals in 2014 was good for a second place tie with speedster Billy Hamilton, and eight behind Dee Gordon in all of baseball. Steals are tricky. If his hit total decreases, there will fewer opportunities for him to steal bases, so this one has a lot in play. In 2012 and 2013, Altuve stole 33 and 35 bases respectively, to go along with batting averages of .290 and .283. With a lower on-base percentage in 2013 (.316 compared to .340 in 2012), Altuve managed to steal two more bases.
This leads me to believe he has learned the art of base stealing, so that begs the question: over or under 40 steals in 2015?
What do you think Jose Altuve has in store in 2015? Comment below, or tweet us @AstrosCTH !