While the Astros were only eliminated from the postseason on Thursday night, one of their stars didn’t waste time in addressing a bothersome injury.
It’s no secret that a right knee injury hampered Jose Altuve since a game in Colorado on July 25th. A consequence of a slide into second base at Coors Park, the Astros‘ second baseman would spend nearly an entire month on the DL before making his return in Seattle on August 21st. It became evident during the subsequent weeks that the 2017 AL MVP was not quite himself.
Before DL: 454 plate appearances, .329/.392/.464, 9 HR, 139 wRC+
Post DL: 145 plate appearances, .268/.359/.402, 4 HR, 117 wRC+
In spite of the injury Altuve still posted a respectable batting line and producing above-average results at the plate. But the first trip to the DL in his major league career also cost Altuve a chance to record at least 200 hits for the fifth season in a row.
Unfortunately, he reaggravated the knee injury a couple of times throughout the postseason. Third baseman Alex Bregman noted to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com late last week that Altuve’s right knee was “as big as a grapefruit.” That’s not a pretty picture.
So, what did Friday’s surgery actually repaired? McTaggart tweeted out here that the “surgery was to repair a patella (kneecap) avulsion fracture in his right knee.” Here are the details of the knee injury reported by McTaggart:
"According to the Mayo Clinic web site, an avulsion fracture occurs when a small chunk of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone."
Again, not a pretty picture. Not at all. On the plus side though, McTaggart reports that the Astros expect Altuve to be ready for spring training next year. That’s good news for Houston as the second baseman helps lead the charge.
If there is a silver lining in this situation, the fact that Altuve played through such an injury only enhances his legend. Here is a complimentary quote from manager AJ Hinch in Chandler Rome’s recent article in the Houston Chronicle.
"“Tremendous heart. It’s all about heart with him. He is such a great example of what’s right,” Hinch said after the Game 5 loss. “I’ve said that over and over again … I wish you guys knew what he had to go through to play every day and get himself prepared and then contribute and do well.”"
The Astros need a healthy and effective Altuve in 2019. It is encouraging to see how well he played with a troublesome injury. You can’t help but wonder how Altuve will respond next year. Let’s just say that I am looking forward to his comeback tour.