The Astros Four Potential Leadoff Hitters Without Jose Altuve
By Alec Brown
The Houston Astros will be without Jose Altuve for an extended period of time, as their superstar second baseman needs surgery after fracturing his thumb. While it shouldn't be season ending, Altuve will likely miss an extended period of time, a crushing blow to the AL West favorites.
Altuve is the catalyst for the Astros offense, as his free-swinging approach often ignites the Astros team and fans. His 32 career leadoff home runs ensure opposing pitchers can't start the game with a get-me-over fastball to settle in.
Altuve is fresh off one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .300 with a .921 OPS. While none of these players can single handedly offset Altuve's contributions from the top of the order, the following Astros all could conceivably bat atop the Astros order.
While he utilizes almost an entirely different approach, Alex Bregman may be the best choice to replace Altuve atop the order with regards to similar results. Bregman's .366 OBP is close to Altuve's .387, and he also has some pop to match leadoff home run potential.
His .820 OPS last year was third-highest on the team, and his .872 second-half OPS showed signs of regaining his form from 2019. You can't ask for much more of a leadoff hitter than to get on base at a high clip and to do damage when contact is made.
From a profile perspective, Bregman consistently goes deep into counts and works quality ABs. While Altuve's attack first mentality at the plate can often lead to great results, there is plenty of give-and-take, as often the opposing pitcher has already recorded the first out of the game after throwing only 1-2 pitches.
Bregman's patience and plate discipline ensure opposing pitchers would not be able to just settled into their day, but would have to be sharp from the get-go, or else Houston will begin the day with either a leadoff walk or double.
Though he has been a staple in the Astros lineup as either the three of the four hitter, Bregman may be the best option to lead off until Altuve returns.