Meet the Houston Astros' Newest Slugger: Jose Altuve
For as wretched as their start has been, the Houston Astros haven't lacked in the signature power that they started to flash last season. They've launched 37 dingers into the night sky, enough to put them sixth in the league and only three behind the teams with the most. A lot of that is thanks to a new slugger on the block.
It's not prodigious first baseman A.J. Reed as he's too busy taking a flamethrower to Triple-A pitching with a .512 slugging percentage.
It's not 21-year-old stud shortstop Carlos Correa, who has only left the park four times this year.
Nope. That honor belongs to the towering figure in the foreground here.
Just when you thought Jose Altuve couldn't look any tinier, here comes this Getty photo. pic.twitter.com/OJfPbbVWxz
— Dr Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) May 3, 2016
Yes, Jose Altuve -- he of the 5'6" frame -- has already hit eight home runs this season, and lil homie isn't slowing down just yet. This one came Wednesday night in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins.
.@JoseAltuve27 hits leadoff HR, Astros up 3-0. Watch @MNTwins now on @FSnorth, #FOXSportsGO https://t.co/muGdfEQ82N https://t.co/1aj7zxJJRQ
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) May 5, 2016
Oh, and he followed that up later in the game by almost punching a grand slam out to right-center field. The small package brings a big punch, and he's putting up numbers that put him in a fairly elite class.
Back in the 1920's and 1930's, Hack Wilson was terrorizing the league with his home-run stroke. He led the National League in long balls four of five seasons from 1926 to 1930, including a 56-homer season in the final year of that span. Overall, he hit 244 dongs in 12 seasons in the majors.
What does that have to do with Altuve? Wilson is the only batter 5'6" or shorter to hit more than 16 home runs in a single season. Altuve is already halfway there.
Since 1901, there have been 65 big leaguers with statures as small as Altuve's who have hit a home run, but only three of them have more of them. The others outside of Wilson are the infamous Tommy Leach and Joe Sewell, who last suited up in 1918 and 1933, respectively. Altuve is only 13 home runs behind Leach for second-place dinger king of the shorties, and at his pace, who's to say he can't get there this year?
Wednesday night's home run wasn't a booming one, traveling 378 feet, but he hasn't been feasting exclusively off of wall hoppers. Four of Altuve's home runs have gone at least 400 feet, according to Statcast, including one boomer that went 447.76 feet.
If we sum up the distance on Altuve's eight homers this year, we get 3,189.8 feet. As an ode to the Twitter account @HowManyAltuves, if you were to clone Altuve and line his 5'6" replicas head to toe, you would need 579.96 Altuves to equal that total. You would also likely have a really good baseball team, and ol' Hack Wilson would be shaking in his boots.
Clearly, Altuve's bound for some regression. His 26.7% home run to fly-ball ratio is well beyond the 7.4% he posted last year, and it's not sustainable with a 31.6% hard-hit rate. Eventually, he'll go back to merely being one of the best second basemen in the game with a knack for swiping bags and legging out doubles. Until then, I'm totally cool with just sitting back and enjoying the Gucciness this fella is raining upon the league.
Size doesn't matter with Jose Altuve 💪⚾️💯 Warning: if you are at school turn your audio down😊 pic.twitter.com/PV7dBYYgXg
— Dave McAlister (@DaveMcAlister) April 28, 2016