Astros: Jose Altuve is the Best in The Game

Jun 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Astros second basemen Jose Altuve (27) hits a three-run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Astros second basemen Jose Altuve (27) hits a three-run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Watching the Astros Jose Altuve play daily is a gift to be appreciated.

A few days ago I made a bold statement that the “Astros World Series Title Run” is currently unfolding today. To make such large statements in the baseball realm is not in my nature, yet here I go again claiming our star is the best player in the game. A shocking statement is not what I was aiming for. Instead, it is more of living in the moment, and understanding the greatness playing out in front us.

There is no player on the Astros or in the league that emulates greatness better than Jose Altuve. Going into Friday’s action, no player this season has as many hits (133) as Altuve. If the statistic has to do with production, Altuve has stamped his name on the category. Altuve leads baseball with a .357avg, leads the AL with 25 stolen bases, leads the MLB in on-base Avg at a .427 clip, and is 3rd in on base + slugging at .991.

Baseball is fast moving art that captures the soul, and much of that art is not put into statistics. At times Altuve is an extension of A.J. Hinch on the field while dominating all the non-stat categories of leadership and hustle.

His love, passion, and business approach to the game resemble a couple of recent Astros legends. His respect to how the Killer B’s approached the game was a focus when Altuve first came into the league. To keep the Astros lineage moving forward, it has quickly become clear that Altuve is writing his own legendary stories as one of the best ever to play the game.

Stacking the magical numbers to his resume season after season

In 2014 season Altuve won the batting title leading all of MLB with a .341 batting Avg. Altuve spread his talent all over the leader boards dominating in all areas. Altuve lead the league in stolen bases (56) and lead the league in hits (225). A scary sign that Altuve is improving was his .377 on-base Avg in 2014, compared to his current .421 Avg. In our current season, Altuve has introduced plate discipline and patience waiting for the ball to be in his zone.

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At the All-Star Break Altuve had walked more times this season (43) than he did in any season (prior best, 40 in 2012). To take a closer look at the remarkable campaign that Altuve’s had in 2014, we need to go far back in time. To find a player to compare Altuve’s 2014 season to, we need to go back to 1917, and a player who many consider the best ever by the name of Ty Cobb. In 1917 Cobb logged 225 hits, the same as Altuve in 2014. Cobb had 44 doubles in 1917 leaving him three short of Altuve’s 47 doubles.

Cobb’s historical base stealing skills garnered him 55 stolen bases, and again that is just short of Altuves 56. Imagine one out of every six plate appearances you are standing on second base, and with Altuve either stealing or doubling, he was constantly in scoring position.

When you have to go back 100 years to compare his numbers to someone, and that someone is the great Cobb, you can start to see why I am referring to him as one of the best. By the way, he is having a better season this year at only 26 years of age.

How does Altuve match up with Pete Rose

In 760 career games, Jose Altuve had 995 hits, .310 Avg, .352 on base Avg, and a .431 slugging%. Through 760 games Rose had 900 hits, .295 BA, .351 on base Avg, and a .413 slugging %. To make this scenario, even more, eye-popping, at these same points in their career Altuve is 289 days younger. At the same point Altuve has collected (17) 4 hit games and Rose had collected (18) four hit games. Jose is edging Rose in 3 hit games (92 to 86). 

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So we are not comparing him to Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, we are comparing him to Ty Cobb, and Pete Rose the all-time hit leaders. The more you follow the numbers, the more you will see my point. I will throw one more at you that was being talked about around baseball world yesterday.

The best road batting average in the last 90 years with at least 200 + plate appearances was the following:  In 1939, Joe DiMaggio hit .413, in 1948 Stan Musial hit .415, and Jose Altuve in 2016 is hitting .421. Jose’s OPS on the road in 2016 is 1.113. In Altuve’s last 21 road games he is 43 for 86, for a very respectable video game Avg of .500.

Greatness does not show his face often, appreciate the opportunity to watch Altuve play.

Growing up, I had the pleasure to be closer to Nolan Ryan than most fans. When Ryan was no longer with Houston, I still followed him, but I learned early to appreciate the moment. That allowed me really to appreciate the next round of legends Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell. When those two stepped into the box, the world stopped for me, and I tried to absorb and learn as much as I could. 

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We are fortunate enough to have a few of these players coming through Houston again, but Altuve is writing his name in the history books right next to the elite. It is one thing to be mentioned with Hall of Famers, it is another thing to be mentioned with the very best Hall of Famers, and in some areas outpacing the best.

Let us not forget than Altuve’s career started as he walked on to a tryout facility in Venezuela and was promptly sent home the same day. It was a situation out of a Seinfeld episode, when George gets fired, and shows up to work the next day as if nothing happened. Altuve came back the next day, and he was sent home again.

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Altuve knew he had to force the issue, and he would not go away. Eventually showing up a third day they allowed him to participate in a practice game, and he has proved the world’s doubters wrong ever since. We came very close to never seeing the once in every century talent. Now that he is here appreciate the opportunity to watch him play. He is proving he is the best player in the game today and one of the best ever.

***Statistics from Baseball-Reference (Not including last night’s stats)***