Jose Altuve Is the Best Player Ever for His Size
Everyone knows Houston second baseman Jose Altuve is really good. But not many people realize just how good he really is.
Altuve has been the best second baseman in baseball for three years now. In 2014, he had a 4.8 fWAR, batted .341/.377/.453, stole 56 bases, and had a wRC+ of 134. Damn good, right?
In 2015, he hit .313/.353/.459 with a 120 wRC+ and an fWAR of 4.3, but saw his homers rise from 7 to 15 and still swiped 38 bags. Totally great.
This season, it's more than jumped up a notch. In 514 plate appearances, Altuve is batting .365, with a .431 on-base percentage, and an eye-popping slugging percentage of .572. He has 19 home runs and 26 steals, has scored 85 runs and knocked in 71, has a wRC+ of 169 and an fWAR of 6.2.
In Houston's 15-7 romp over the Minnesota Twins last night, Altuve followed up a 4-for-4 game with a 4-for-5 effort in the first game of the doubleheader. He also played in Game 2, a 10-2 win over Minnesota, where he only went 1-for-4. What a slacker.
This is one of those really fun posts to write, because all we have to do is present the numbers and watch your mouths drop open.
José Altuve (@astros): 8th game this season with 4+ hits; nobody else in MLB has more than 5 such games. pic.twitter.com/LlJGqtvo0j
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 11, 2016
José Altuve is 3rd AL player with at least 7 4-hit road games in a season (Ichiro, George Sisler) https://t.co/wVOvGqqLw2 (via @EliasSports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 12, 2016
The amazing Jose Altuve has more hits just on the road this year (92) than Chris Davis, Todd Frazier, Russell Martin or Tulo have, period!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) August 12, 2016
Now, batting average isn't as revered a stat as it used to be, for good reason. A player who bats .320 but only gets on base at a .340 clips is not as valuable as a player who hits .280 but gets on base at a .360 clip. Getting on base is the key. But there is something special about winning the batting title, and no matter what you think of batting average as a statistic, how Altuve is running away with the batting title in the American League is breathtaking.
|Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||.314|
|Mookie Betts||Red Sox||.312|
|David Ortiz||Red Sox||.307|
I mean, that ain't even close, guys. But Altuve also leads the American League in OBP (.431), hits (164), wOBA (.421), and wRC+ (169). He is second in OPS (1.003), trailing David Ortiz (1.013) by one-hundredth of a point, and perhaps most incredibly is second in slugging (.572), again behind only Ortiz (.612). And he's third in the American League in fWAR (6.2) behind only Mike Trout (6.6) and Josh Donaldson (6.3).
Altuve is also batting .450 since the All Star break. That's 45 hits in 100 at-bats.
.@JoseAltuve27 would have to go hitless in next 99 ABs for his 2016 average to drop below .300. h/t @theaceofspaeder pic.twitter.com/AtDSFDRlDR
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) August 11, 2016
Most surprising this year has been Altuve's increase in power. The dude has always had a little pop, but look how it's grown since his rookie season in 2011.
|Year||Plate Appearances||Home Runs||ISO||SLG|
One thing has become clear. Jose Altuve is one of the greatest "small" players in baseball history, and he's on pace to have the best season of any player who stands less than or equal to 5'6" and 165 pounds.
Cleveland's Joe Sewell put up a 7.5 WAR season in 1923 for the Indians, but Altuve's 6.9 rWAR (Baseball Reference calculates Altuve's WAR at 6.9, while FanGraphs has it at 6.2) is right behind, and Altuve still has another month and half to pass him. His 19 homers, .365 batting average, 1.003 OPS, and .572 slugging percentage are already the most by any player his size or smaller.
Altuve has slowly become one of the best players in the league and is certainly in the conversation for American League MVP in 2016, proving he's not just a great "small" player.
He's just a great player, period.