In this first installment of the Astros player 2018 review, we will cover second baseman Jose Altuve and how he performed this year.
Following a phenomenal 2017 season — 7.6 fWAR, 160 wRC+ — with a World Series title and the AL MVP, it was always difficult to see how Jose Altuve would top that in 2018. Despite his best efforts though, the Astros‘ second baseman wasn’t able to replicate the same level of success.
Offensive numbers: .315/.384/.449, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 134 wRC+, .135 ISO, 4.8 fWAR
Defensive numbers: 1,136 2/3 innings, 135 plays, 1 DRS, -3.2 UZR, 7 errors
A fine season across the board, but it wasn’t another MVP-like performance for the second baseman. The power numbers, in particular, took a tumble with eleven fewer home runs and twelve fewer extra-base hits. Defensive metrics aren’t exactly infallible, yet the numbers also suffered from a slight decline. It wasn’t the same Altuve that we saw the past few seasons.
At the same time, he was still a key reason behind the Astros’ success, especially in the first half. A 134 wRC+ and a .300-plus batting average while playing on a fractured kneecap in the second half isn’t anything to sneeze at in today’s baseball. His absence for roughly a month showed why he is so vital to Houston. A hurt Altuve is still worth something to a team like the Astros.
Regular season grade: B+
Despite a fractured kneecap, Altuve played in all eight of the Astros postseason games, either as the second baseman or designated hitter. In 37 plate appearances against the Indians and Red Sox, he slashed .265/.324/.412 with one home run and a 106 wRC+. The numbers would’ve been slightly better if a specific call didn’t negate a would-be home run. Compared to last year’s run when he posted a 169 wRC+ in 80 postseason plate appearances, it was clear that Altuve wasn’t exactly himself.
To Altuve’s credit, he was only held hitless in just one game during the postseason, which was Game 1 of the ALCS in Boston. While many players go through injuries, it was incredible to see Houston’s star second baseman gut it out.
Postseason grade: C+ for on-field results; A+ for effort
With Altuve already on the mend, he will surely look to redeem himself in 2019. Plenty of the Astros’ success rides with Altuve as this year has proven. Yes, he isn’t the only cog, but he is an important one. Like the rest of the team, I look for him to use his 2018 season as motivation for 2019.