Houston Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve had somewhat of a bounce back year in 2021.
Since joining the Houston Astros in the middle of a 106-loss season in 2011, Jose Altuve has proven again and again why he is the savior that Astros fans prayed for at the end of the Craig Biggio era. From leading a young squad into the 2015 playoffs, to sending the tenured 2019 squad to the World Series with a monster home run, Jose has always been Mr. Consistent.
After hitting a weak, for his standards, .219 batting average in 2020 and having defensively what some would call the yips in the 2020 playoffs, the Venezuelan slugger bounced back in a major way in 2021.
He batted .278, slugged 31 home runs (tied for the most of his career), and had an OPS of .839, all in route to his first all star selection since 2018. You could make the argument that if Altuve is batting below .290 that it’s a down year for him, as he has hit over that mark in seven of his 11 seasons.
However, many of those seven seasons were during years where the lineup was not as loaded, so the second baseman had to make up for it. He no longer needs to be that guy. He now is in a role where quality and timing matters more than quantity.
The main thing Altuve was able to accomplish in 2021, however, is not something that numbers can analyze. In early 2020 when the Astros cheating scandal was hot in the press, Altuve became the most bullied player in baseball.
This was in part to him not wanting his jersey to be ripped off in 2019 due to what he called a bad tattoo, but what all of America decided was a buzzer. He received so much hate and backlash that it appeared to get to him in 2020, especially in the ALCS playoffs when he committed unwatchable errors and wound up possibly costing the Astros two games on their way to a seven game exit.
Now with fans back in 2021, everyone besides Astros fans expected and wanted him to be a shell of his former self. He proved that he is better than everyone thinks in 2021, and that he cannot be bullied.
Altuve carried his great regular season into the postseason, and took revenge on the Chicago White Sox for what they did to his buddy Biggio in 2005. He hit .313 in the ALDS including a crushing home run in a 10-1 route in Game 4. He was a bit off in the ALCS, hitting only .125, but would quickly bounce back in the Fall Classic to hit a very respectable .222.
As he’s signed through 2024, you can expect Altuve to put up consistent, similar numbers for years to come. The only question is, how much is left in the tank? To many Astros fans, it feels like Altuve is older as he’s been here for over 10 years now. The crazy part, however, is that he’s only 31. It seems like he’s just getting started.