There are some sure things in baseball, one of them is that Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve will hit.
There have been some concerns over Jose Altuve‘s struggles during the World Baseball Classic. Maybe when the season started, Altuve would get things going like he always does. Instead, Altuve hits .188 in the first eight games of the season. His struggles were front and center with the Houston Astros’ offensive struggles as a team. That appears to be over.
Tuesday night, Altuve got two hits to raise his batting average up to .216. At the time of writing, Altuve was 3-3 last night with a walk. Altuve has raised his batting average to .275 and his OPS up to .656. That OPS is not very Altuve-like, but he is starting to make better contact. The problem when he was in his funk, he was striking out at a unAltuve like pace.
Altuve has always been known as a low strikeout guy, but last year he added power to his arsenal. He did so without adding too many more strikeouts. For the last three years, Altuve had 53/ 67/ 70 strikeouts during the three seasons. There was a gradual increase, but that could be explained with his power surge.
Altuve had a career-high 85 strikeouts in 2013, but at the time he was still young and learning. 2014 was the beginning of the rise of Altuve to perennial MVP candidate. He had 53 strikeouts that year while batting .341. George Springer is looking like he wants to become the best player on the team. Carlos Correa is still on the rise in his third full season.
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The only issue is that Altuve has already struck out nine times. That’s not that bad, right? Let’s do a little math. Including last night’s game, Altuve has struck out once per game, on average. This is easy math, multiply one strikeout times 162 games, that’s 162 strikeouts. My head hurts. That would shatter his previous career high of 85 strikeouts, an increase of approximately 131%.
It’s too small a sample size to worry too much about. Baseball players typically revert to their mean. Altuve was not seeing the ball well, which could have lead to the extra strikeouts. In 2015, after nine games, Altuve had only three strikeouts. Last year, Altuve had five strikeouts in the first nine games.
Just because he has nine early strikeouts, it doesn’t mean he will suddenly become a high strikeout player. His numbers will stabilize over the next six months of the season. When Altuve is on, it’s hard to get a ball by him.
It was exciting to see the team erupt for ten runs last night. As Altuve goes, so does the Astros lineup. We are still early enough where people are on pace for 80 homers, but we know that is unlikely that a player can sustain that. Altuve will be okay and so will the offense.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***