If you have watched the Jose Altuve story, you would see the struggles that Altuve had to endure to make it to where he is now. Nowadays, pitchers struggle to get the Astros second baseman out on a regular basis. Last season, Altuve made a name for himself with his average, runs, and stolen bases. This season, Altuve has added a new dimension to his game. This new dimension to his game is leading to the Astros overall success as a team. The Astros are 15-7 on the season, and all of baseball is starting to notice.
What Stat has Altuve Added to his Resume?
In the first home game after the road trip, the Astros were tied with the Seattle Mariners in the tenth inning. Altuve was up after a Marwin Gonzalez double and pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus walk. The stage was set with a relatively fast runner at second base that represented the go-ahead run. Altuve smacked a ball so hard that it hit off the scoreboard and allowed Gonzalez to score the winning run for the Astros. In last night’s game, Altuve went three for five, with a run and RBI, as well as a stolen base. The biggest of his hits was the game winner in the 10th.
Most Astros fans would be surprised who is leading the Astros in RBIs right now. Maybe players like George Springer, Luis Valbuena, or Jed Lowrie? No. The team leader in runs batted in is Gigante, also known as Jose Altuve, with 16. The lead-off hitter is leading the team in RBIs; the Astros must have their home run hitter leading off? Let’s look at his stats in 2015.
2015: .367 AVG/ .400 OBP/ .500 SLG/ .900 OPS with 2 home runs/ 16 RBIs/ 9 stolen bases through 22 games.
Why is Jose Altuve leading the Astros in RBIs?
Theory A – The sluggers in the lineup have not hit on a consistent basis yet this season. They have shown flashes of brilliance mixed in with striking out with the bases loaded. Once Springer, Gattis, and Chris Carter get going, those home runs will trump Altuve’s doubles and singles. However, if they continue to struggle all season, they will need Altuve’s clutch hitting to continue their recent success. If he doesn’t hit that many home runs, then how is he leading the team with 16 RBIs? Let’s look at some of the factors leading up to this anomaly.
Theory B – Jake Marisnick has a higher batting average and on-base percentage than Altuve. Marisnick has primarily batted in the ninth spot in the batting order this year. With Marisnick’s ability to get on-base and get himself into scoring position by stealing second or third base. Unlike many of Altuve’s peers, Altuve has a knack for making contact. Are you curious to look to see how many times Altuve has driven in Marisnick? I think it is four times. (If anyone knows, put it the comments and I will insert into the post.)
Theory C – He could be the most clutch hitter on the team in high-pressure situations. While Altuve does have two home runs and seven doubles, he is not known for his power. You don’t have to hit a ball hard to drive in runs, you just have to make good contact. The sluggers on the team try to crush the ball instead of hitting it over the shortstop’s head. In addition to this, he has one of the quickest swings in baseball, as well as a small strike zone. He makes contact with the ball in 92.5% of his at bats so far in 2015 (According to FanGraphs). If there is someone on second base, he can be counted on to advance or score that runner.
Theory D – All of the above!
Will Altuve finish the season leading the Astros in runs batted in ahead of the sluggers? Probably not, but it’s good to see people getting on base in front of Altuve in the batting order. Altuve is already ahead of his hits and batting average at this time last year through 22 games. His success so far is a good sign that Altuve is not just great like he was last year, but he is unbelievable this year.
Is he the Astros MVP so far? I know some CTH writers who seem to think so.
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