Hot take alert: The Astros second baseman IS the best at his position today. Deal with it.
I am tired of hearing the arguments of how Astros second baseman Jose Altuve isn’t the best at his position in baseball today. Sure, it comes down to a difference in opinion and how you value players on certain teams. And I get that.
But dang it, this topic has gotten me riled up!
However, before I go too far down the rabbit hole, I want to state some rather obvious things.
First of all, there are clearly top level second baseman besides the Astros diminutive second baseman like Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy, Jason Kipnis, and Dustin Pedroia. Even that Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers plays a competent second base. If the Astros didn’t have Altuve *insert shudder* then I would desire to have one of those second basemen in his stead.
But this is reality, and in the year of 2016 this is quite simply Altuve’s world. Hense, everyone else just happens to be living in it.
Oh, you need actual examples instead of my incessant babbling?
Well, here you go.
- Before yesterday’s doubleheader in Minnesota, in which Altuve went 5×10 with three RBI and a walk, he was hitting an astounding .429/.496/.635 in 236 plate appearances on the road. That equates to a 213 sOPS+! I can’t name another second baseman or any player that approaches this kind of production.
- Altuve currently has an on-base streak of 41 straight games on the road, which is simply incredible.
- Altuve is no slouch at home either. In 268 plate appearances at home, he has put up a 134 sOPS+.
And just for good measure, I would like to throw out these statistics that prove Altuve belongs at the top.
- 167 wRC+; ranks first out of all second baseman
- .427 OBP; ranks first out of all second baseman
- .361 batting average; ranks first out of all second baseman
- 26 stolen bases; ranks first out of all second baseman
- 159 hits; ranks first out of all second baseman
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Those are just the categories that he happens to be leading in entering yesterday! There are also other categories that he actually ranks within the top five to ten at his position. I won’t bore you with those, but it is simply incredible what this guy is accomplishing at the plate. Altuve has been so good that he could be an MVP canida…wait, I’ll stop there. Because that is another heated conversation for another day.
What About His Defense?
I will admit though that defense plays a part in this conversation, and to be fair, Altuve isn’t the best second baseman around on the field. His 0.8 UZR/150 is only tenth best out of all qualifying second baseman. His zero DRS ranks him nineteenth in the same group. He may not be one of the best second basemen defensively, but there is no shame in that. Between playing an adequate second base and hitting at the high level like he has, there is no reason to discount anything Altuve has done.
When it is all said and done, Altuve is putting together one of the best seasons from any second baseman in recent memory. While it remains to be seen how long Altuve’s peak will be going forward, we sometimes need just to step back and enjoy what is unfolding in front of us. Even if the 2016 season doesn’t end in a World Series for the Astros, take solace that the team has the league’s best second baseman.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs**