Oct 13, 2017: It came as a surprise to no one that All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve's fingerprints were all over the Astros' 2-1 win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Altuve accounted for half of Houston's hits by going 3-for-4 with a stolen base, a run scored and a tremendous defensive play. He became the first Astros batter with three hits in an LCS game since Brad Ausmus in Game 6 of the 2005 National League Championship Series against the Cardinals. Altuve also set a club record with four three-hit games in the postseason.
"He's showing people why he's an MVP," said Yanks slugger Aaron Judge, whom Altuve said pregame he would vote for if he had a vote for the AL Most Valuable Player Award. "Getting on base, stealing bases, making great plays on defense. He was doing it all tonight." When asked about his playoff success, Altuve brushed off the question.
"I'm hitting zero for tomorrow," he said. "I haven't got a hit tomorrow. Every day is a new day, and if I help my team win today, that's good. But tomorrow is another day, and we're all going to start from zero." (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Oct 14, 2017)
|DOB:||5/6/1990||Agent:||Octagon: Scott Pucino, Wil Polidor|
|Birth City:||Maracay, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2006 - Astros - Free agent|
Altuve stopped growing in his early teens. Ever since, his ability on a baseball field has been second guessed. Along the way, he's silenced the skeptics.
Stories abound through the years about Altuve being sent home from a tryout camp only to show up the next day, or having coaches and stadium security guards mistake him for a bat boy. But he’s defied stereotypes and shown that he’s the real thing.
When Altuve's mother, Lastenia, went into labor, his father, Carlos, was watching a baseball game at a stadium next to the hospital in Maracay. People ran from the hospital to the stadium to tell his dad he had a kid on the way.
Jose has a real cult following among some hard core Houston Astros fans. He is the ultimate underdog at just 5-feet-6. He is built like a fire hydrant.
Before 2011 spring training, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Altuve as the 28th-best prospect in the Astros' organization.
Altuve's high-energy play is contagious to teammates. He is a team leader and impresses with his ability in all areas of the game.
Jose is a special type of person. Before games, Altuve can be seen chatting it up in the middle infield, flitting here and there with his cap resting high on his head and the bill at an upward angle, and displaying a joy for the game that can’t be faked. His enthusiasm makes him a natural fan favorite at Minute Maid Park and on the road.
During the winter months, following every offseason until after the 2013 season, Altuve returned home to play in the Venezuelan League. As the second baseman for the Navegantes del Magallanes, Altuve played with and against current Major Leaguers. His teammates included Rangers shortstop Andres Blanco, Blue Jays outfielder Juan Rivera, and Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo.
"They help me with a lot of things," Altuve said about playing with big leaguers. "They tell me a lot and I watch the way they play. They've showed me you got to slow down the game a little bit; make one out before the second out."
If you include Altuve's numbers at both stops in 2011, he won the minor league batting title and hit .389/.426/.591 at Single-A and Double-A combined.
Jose's two favorite ballplayers to watch are Omar Vizquel and Marco Scutaro.
While attending an Astros camp in Venezuela, he was actually told he had been cut but still showed up the next day and proved himself to the scouts.
Altuve eats a Subway sandwich before most games.
Jose's two favorite things are sleep and music.
Altuve's favorite city to play in is Denver.
Jose's secret talent is Ping Pong.
Altuve's hero when he was young: Omar Vizquel.
And he says that Vizquel gave him great advice: "Omar Vizquel told me that whatever I want to do, do it hard."
Favorite movie: X-Men. "I love all of them," Jose said.
Actor: Angelina Jolie.
TV show: Two and a Half Men.
Music: "I like all kinds. It depends on my mood."
Biggest disappointment: "I don't have many. But when I do have one, I forget it right away," Altuve said.
Most embarrassing baseball experience: "When I was a rookie, my teammates took my clothes from my locker and left me with women's clothes that I had to wear on the plane ride back to Houston," Jose said. "I was so embarrassed I kept looking down. But we had fun with it." (Rick Sorci - Baseball Digest - Jan. 2015)
After the 2013 season, Jose skipped the Venezuelan winter league and returned early to Houston to dedicate himself to an off-season program that included cardio, agility training and heavy workouts for the legs, like running uphill.
"He understood he needed to be in better shape," says longtime Astros bullpen catcher and fellow Venezuean, Javier Bracamonte. "It impressed me how much he changed in one year. And also he learned how to eat. In the minor leagues, he was used to eating (fast food); now he stays away from junk." (Emma Span - Sports Illustrated - 11/21/2014)
Altuve is almost maniacally modest. The only thing he will brag about is his Ping-Pong talent—he's easily the best in the Astros' clubhouse.
Altuve is 5' 5" tall. That makes him the shortest active player in Major League Baseball, and the shortest since Freddie Patek retired in 1981. (Spring 2014)
Inspired by broadcasters debating how many "Altuves" a particular home run traveled, Bryan Trostel created a simple web-based calculator to calculate distance in Official Standard Listed Altuves (OSLA). To match Altuve's listed height, one OSLA = 5.417 feet.
Altuve himself has been receptive of the idea, saying "It's funny, man," he said. "When they told me how many 'Altuves' was a home run, I just laughed." Trostel, who published his calculator at HowManyAltuves.com, has expanded it to include speed (Altuves per second) as well as cubic and squared Altuves for volume and area. (January 2014)
When Jose saw his name penciled in as his team's cleanup hitter for a game in June 2014, he quickly snapped a photo of the lineup card and fired it off to his buddy, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
"This is what a four hitter looks like," he wrote. Or a batting champion. Or a stolen base champion. Actually, it's what an impact baseball player looks like, a guy who makes the players in front of him better as well as the players behind him.
It's the look of a guy who examines himself and his game and dedicates himself to getting better. That's getting better physically by giving up burgers and fries, dropping 10 pounds and sticking with a new training regimen.
That's getting better mentally, too, by working relentlessly on his swing mechanics and studying enough video to walk to home plate with an idea of how he intends to approach the at-bat.
Altuve didn't really reinvent himself in his third full big league season. He was already a very solid player. He was a member of the 2012 National League All-Star Team. So this appearance in the 2014 All-Star Game is a validation of hours of hard work on and off the field.
"I remember my first All-Star Game when I went in there and looked around and couldn't believe I was there with all those guys," he said. "I think it helped that people doubted me. I thought I could get to the big leagues and be a good player." (Justice - mlb.com - 7/14/14)
OK, in his breakout 2014 season, Altuve became the first player in history to reach 130 hits and 40 steals before the All-Star break. One reason is his physical conditioning.
"I feel 100 percent right now," he said. "(In 2013), I had a couple of things in my legs that slowed me down. I feel really good right now. I feel a little faster. I've been getting a lot of hits with ground balls to shortstop, and I think that's been the difference."
He has a better idea what he's doing at home plate thanks to the regimen Astros hitting coach John Mallee got him to buy into. He studies each pitcher and walks to home plate with a better idea of what the pitcher is going to throw.
He also believes that having rookie George Springer hitting behind him helps with piling up stolen bases. "You can't throw him a fastball right in the middle," Altuve said. "He'll make you pay. You have to throw him more breaking pitches and pitch around him. I think it's been easier for me."
Altuve said the second time in an All-Star Game is a more comfortable experience. His first one went by in a blur. Asked what he remembered, he said, "My ground ball to second base that I was safe at first, that they called me out. Jim Joyce called me out. That's my memory." (Justice - mlb.com - 7/14/14)
Miguel Cabrera and Altuve both hail from the city of Maracay, and they’ve become pals in recent years. They spent some time last winter hanging out off the field and goofing around playing softball or basketball, with Altuve presumably playing the role of Spud Webb.
“We have a pretty good relationship,” Jose said. “He always tells me, ‘You’re agood hitter and a good player. Keep it going.’ For me to hear that from the best hitter in the big leagues means a lot. In the beginning, when he said that, I kind of pressed. I was like, ‘Oh my god, Miguel Cabrera.’ Now I appreciate all the support he’s given to me.”
Former Astros manager Bo Porter grew so tired of hearing Altuve referred to as “diminutive” or “pint-sized,” he opted for irony and anointed Altuve “The Big Guy.” If follically impaired Harlem Globetrotters guard Fred Neal could go by the nickname “Curly,” why not?
Jose's wife, Nina, is his childhood sweetheart.
A crew from MLB Productions followed 2014 AL batting champion Altuve around for several months to gather footage for a documentary about him.
The movie was the idea of club owner Jim Crane, who wanted Altuve to get some publicity following a season in which he set a club record with 225 hits and led the AL with a .341 batting average and 56 stolen bases. The movie will run on MLB Network, likely in April 2015.
"He's the first batting champion we've ever had, and that's quite an achievement on his part," Crane said. "He's the spark of the team. He's got an infectious smile, he's a great guy and I think you'll see him step up to the lead a lot more this year."
The production crew was in Japan when Altuve participated in a tour of Major League All-Stars in December, 2014, and it traveled to Altuve's native Venezuela in January to get more footage. Altuve was wearing a microphone as he participated in the first day of full-squad workouts Wednesday at Osceola County Stadium while cameras followed him.
Altuve even joked he's leading man material. "I feel like Brad Pitt, like a movie actor," he said. "This might be my start in Hollywood, don't you think?" (McTaggart - mlb.com - 2/25/15)
When the 2013 season ended, Altuve was unhappy with himself. He'd hit .283 that year, but he was convinced there was so much more for him. So he went to work. He did some basic things. He paid more attention to nutrition. He got leaner and stronger.
And with the help of then-Astros hitting coach John Mallee, he worked harder at both his physical and mental preparation. He spent hours studying opposing pitchers and went into each at-bat with an understanding of what he wanted to do.
He also amped up a pregame routine that included indoor batting and video study prior to the normal round of batting practice. Late last season, Mallee, blown away by Altuve's success, choked back tears as he discussed the transformation.
"I feel like he's one of my sons," Mallee said.
Mallee will be the first to tell you that, apart from the preparation and the work, Altuve has remarkable physical skills. "You may never see someone with quicker hand-eye coordination," Mallee said.
That is, Altuve has the ability to adjust to almost anything. If he's looking for a fastball, he can still get the bat on, say, a changeup or breaking pitch.
"The ability to kind of make those quick adjustments as pitchers were trying to adjust to him and try new things is pretty impressive," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. (Justice - mlb.com - 3/9/15)
- Players who accomplish enormous feats or have record-breaking seasons that draw a lot of attention often say that it isn't until much later that the impact of their achievements really sink in.
It's highly likely that ifJosehadn't thought about how tremendous his 2014 actually was, the constant reminders, in the form of award after award after award, have done that for him.
Altuve, who set an Astros record with 225 hits, received his GIBBY [Greatness In BaseBall Yearly] Award at Minute Maid Park as the 2014 Breakout Everyday Player of the Year lauding his record-setting season.
"Obviously, last year was a great year," Altuve said. "I think there were a lot of guys here that had really good years, so that makes the season better. I got a couple of awards, and that's good. It means you're doing a great job for your team, and that's what you're working for."
The GIBBYs are presented by MLB.com and represent the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season. The votes are based on input from broadcasters, reporters, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
In addition to producing on the field, Altuve takes it a step further. In a game where some players think the more serious they look on the field, the more "locked in" everyone watching will think they are, Altuve manages to both play at an elite level and have fun too.
"By the time the game starts, I try to have fun," Altuve said. "Baseball is about having fun. You have to play hard and you have to do everything for your teammates. But at the same time, you have to have fun. That's what I try to do. It's really hard for me not to be smiling when I'm playing."
Altuve also received his award from the Houston chapter of the BBWAA as the Astros MVP for 2014. (Footer - mlb.com - 4/15/15)
- June 27, 2015: Correa is learning rapidly during his rookie year. In turn, he's pushing Jose Altuve, his double-play partner and locker mate. At least that's how Astros manager A.J. Hinch saw it.
"They feed off each other, they're developing a nice friendship, a nice trust in that second base-shortstop position and it's key to have," said Hinch. "I'm proud of how Jose is introducing Correa to the big leagues and how Correa is going to push Altuve to be great."
"It's really fun playing with that guy," Altuve said. "Great hitter, great defender. It's great to play up the middle with him.".
"We play good baseball, we play hard and we play until the last out," Correa said. "I feel comfortable, I have a great group of guys here and it's a great lineup." (C Rome - MLB.cpm - June 27, 2015)
Altuve was selected to start in the 2015 All-Star Game.
Plenty of camaraderie exists between players who hail from the same country, but in the case of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Royals catcher Salvador Perez, their Venezuelan mutual admiration society began long before they were Major Leaguers.
The two played together as youngsters, when they were around 11 or 12 years old. Their travel team took them to other countries, where they represented Venezuela with as much pride as they do as adults and professional athletes today. Perez said Altuve was superior even way back when.
"He played," Perez said. "Leadoff, he threw hard, he stole bases, made some plays. Always. Whatever [he's] doing here [in the big leagues]—200 hits this year again—nothing is a surprise to me. I know where he comes from and I know what he's about."
Altuve remembers his youth baseball days a little differently.
"I was on the bench," he deadpanned. "I played second when we were winning by 10 or losing by 10."
And his memories of Perez?
"All I remember is he played first base because our manager said he couldn't catch," Altuve said. Looks like things have changed.
Asked if Altuve ever got picked on for his small stature, Perez shook his head with an emphatic no.
"He was better than everybody on the team," he said. "Nobody could say anything. "I'm 6-4, and he's like 5-1. And he's way better than me." ( Alyson Footer / MLB.com )
Altuve facts in 2016: Altuve was established not only as one of the best "short guys" in big league history, but among the greatest stars through age-25. Let's look at 10 facts that highlight his excellence:
1. Among players listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter, only Altuve, Willie Keeler and Billy Hamilton (of the 19th century) have multiple 200-hit seasons.
2. By pacing the American League in hits in 2014 and 2015, Altuve joined Keeler (1897-98, 1900) as one of only two men at 5-foot-6 or under to have led the league in hits multiple times.
3. Among all position players in baseball history to be listed at 5-foot-6 or shorter, Altuve ranks sixth in cumulative Wins Above Replacement through age-25.
4. Altuve is one of five second basemen since 1901 to lead the league in hits in back-to-back seasons, and his 830 career hits are seventh most among all keystone men through age-25.
5. Dating back to 1901, Altuve is one of eight under-age-26 stars, regardless of position, to lead the league in hits in consecutive years. The previous seven: Ty Cobb (1907-09, 1911-12); Shoeless Joe Jackson (1912-13), Rogers Hornsby (1920-21), Ducky Medwick (1936-37), Stan Musial (1943-44), Harvey Kuenn (1953-54) and George Brett (1975-76).
6. Among second basemen, Altuve is ahead of where 3,000-hit club members Paul Molitor (735), Pete Rose (723), Nap Lajoie (721) and Rod Carew (675) were through their age-25 campaigns. He is also ahead of the pace of a host of Hall of Fame second-sackers like Billy Herman, Frankie Frisch, Nellie Fox, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Lazzeri and Charlie Gehringer.
7. Altuve is also one of 13 players to have multiple campaigns with 200 hits and 40 doubles through age 25. The previous dozen: Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Hornsby, Paul Waner, Chuck Klein, Herman, Hank Greenberg, Musial and Ducky Medwick; and non-Cooperstown residents Jackson, Pinky Whitney, Hal Trosky and Don Mattingly.
8. Altuve and Jackson are the only players to have multiple 200-hit, 40-double, 30-steal seasons before entering their age-26 campaigns.
9. Altuve is also one of just 10 players in the modern era—with Cobb, Tris Speaker, Roberto Alomar and Alex Rodriguez among them—to accumulate at least 800 hits, 150 doubles and 150 steals through age-25.
10. Altuve is one of four players since 1901 to lead his league in both hits and steals in the same campaign before age 26. Altuve accomplished the feat in both 2014 and 2015, joining Rickey Henderson (1981), Snuffy Stirnweiss (1944) and Cobb (1907, '09, '11). (Schluetter - MLB.com - 3/11/16)
May 5, 2016: Jose met a boy with terminal cancer on the field before the game who asked him to hit a home run. Altuve delivered and then some, walloping a homer in his first at-bat to spark a 4-for-4 night.
July 22, 2016: Mike Trout first played against Altuve in Double-A in 2011, when Altuve torched the Texas League with a .361 batting average.
"They couldn't get him out," Trout said. "I knew he was going to be good." The two have since sparred as division rivals and have played together on four All-Star teams, growing a little closer each time.
"He hits everything," Trout said of Altuve, who is 15 months older and eight inches shorter. "I was talking to a couple of the pitchers. You try to switch up your approach, the way you want to attack him, but he hits it anyway.
"He stands really far from the plate, so people think you can just throw a fastball in the outside corner and he won't hit it. But he gets to it, and he can drive it. And he's hitting for power." (A Gonzalez - MLB.com - July 22, 2016)
We all know Jose knows baseball. But he knows soccer, too? Growing up in Venezuela, Altuve had no choice but to try his hand at soccer as well as baseball, though he certainly appears to have picked the right sport.
Altuve probably could have been a decent soccer player considering his speed and coordination. In fact, he likes to still dabble in the occasional soccer game in the offseason to keep in shape. But don't worry, Astros fans—it's more about running wind sprints down the field than tackling, so Altuve's friends know to take it easy on him.
"I actually still [play soccer] in the offseason," Altuve said. "When I don't feel like doing cardio or something, I'm going to go out there and play soccer with my friends. They know they have to be careful with me, but we have a lot of fun playing soccer."
Altuve keeps himself in incredible shape. He made a commitment prior to the 2014 season to shed some weight in an effort to add more speed and possibly beat out some infield hits. It paid off. Altuve set a franchise record with 225 hits and hit .341, winning the AL batting title.
The Astros' second baseman has been "speedy" in other ways, too. On August 16, 2016, Altuve notched career hit No. 1,000 in just his 786th game, reaching the milestone faster than anyone in team history. Among active Major Leaguers, only Ichiro Suzuki achieved the feat in fewer games (696).
Altuve said he plays soccer for an hour once or twice a week in the offseason, which is enough cardio for him when added to his running and other activities. That being said, the All-Star couldn't imagine trading in his baseball career for a soccer career.
"I don't know," he said. "I'm happy to play baseball."
Altuve, who often challenges his teammates to games of soccer video games in the clubhouse, is a huge spectator fan for the sport and cheers for Spanish power Real Madrid. "The two biggest sports in my country are baseball and soccer," he said. "I played baseball all my life, but actually played soccer for a while."
While Altuve has the speed to play soccer, he says he doesn't necessarily have the skills. He can put the bat on the ball as well as anyone and he hits the ball hard, but he's not sure he could make that same kind of contact in soccer.
"You have to be fast with strong legs," Altuve said. "I don't think I can kick a ball that hard like they do." (McTaggart - MLB.com - 8/17/16)
Oct 1, 2016: Jose Altuve's second American League batting title in three years was a cause for celebration for the Astros, who held a champagne toast for their All-Star and all-everything second baseman in the clubhouse following the 2016 season finale, 3-0 win over the Angels at Angel Stadium in the penultimate game of the 2016 season.
Altuve went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .338, far out of the reach of Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia—both of whom were hitting .320 entering the final day of the season. Altuve won the 2014 batting title after hitting .341.
"I wanted to make sure that he got recognized in front of our team," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Very rarely do you get a batting champion in front of you. He's been excellent all season. The team was excited to celebrate him, so we raised a glass to a really remarkable season that continues and can get even better tomorrow. But even if it stops, it's one of the best seasons I've been around."
As usual, Altuve credited his teammates with helping him reach the milestone.
"It's great," Altuve said. "I feel really happy. I think I have to thank all the guys on the team. They really made my job easier this year—Georgie [Springer], Carlos [Correa], Marwin [Gonzalez]—every single guy that was in the lineup did something to help me win the batting title.
"The way that these guys played this year, they went outside to the field and played hard, and that kind of encouraged me and pushed me to keep playing hard every day. It's really fun to play on a team like this. We're out of the playoffs, but it was a great season, a winning season. We know what we've got here and we're going to come back next year and I know we're going to make it."
Altuve, who is one of the front-runners for the AL Most Valuable Player Award, is perhaps the most popular player in the Astros' clubhouse, so his teammates were on board with toasting him.
"Coming into this season, he had a plan and executed well and did it every day," outfielder Jake Marisnick said. "Every day you come in, being one of the young guys, you get a chance to see him how he goes about his business every day and how he works. It's awesome. We're all pretty pumped for him." (B McTaggart - MLB.com - Oct 2, 2016)
October 2016: This month, Altuve will be among several MLB stars who'll appear in a World-Series themed episode of the Cartoon Network show "Uncle Grandpa" on Oct. 22 at 11:15 a.m. Central. In the episode, the title character enlists Altuve, Rays pitcher Chris Archer, Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones, Red Sox pitcher David Price and Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard to help train his struggling little league team on the brink of giving up.
October 27, 2016: Altuve was named the Sporting News' MLB Player of the Year, joining Jeff Bagwell (1994) as the only Houston players to win the honor. The award, originated in 1936, is voted upon by the players.
November 9, 2016: Altuve was selected as the AL's Outstanding Player for the 2016 Players Choice Award.
December 2016: Altuve committed to play for Venezuela in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
2016 season: Altuve had the best season of his career with the Astros. He won his second American League batting title in three years, hitting .338 with career highs in homers (24) and RBIs (96) to go along with 30 steals, 42 doubles, a .928 OPS and 7.6 Wins Above Replacement. He led the AL in hits for the third year in a row and was named to his fourth All-Star team.
Altuve finished third in the AL Most Valuable Player Award balloting, behind Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, and was named the Sporting News' MLB Player of the Year.
Altuve is the first second baseman to record 100 runs scored, 200 hits, 40 doubles, 20 homers, 95 RBIs and 30 steals in a season. He's just the sixth player in Major League history to reach all of those marks, regardless of position. By winning the batting title for the second time, Altuve became the first second baseman to win multiple batting titles since Rod Carew won five from 1969-75. (Brian McTaggart - MLB.com - Dec. 2016)
2017: Altuve represented Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
It is no secret that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is idolized by multitudes of aspiring baseball players. They look up to him as the undaunted leader of a club that won 101 games on its way to a postseason run.
Those same kids also will pay close attention to the infield model he created for the 2018 Wilson glove line.
Altuve's A2000 JA27 is one of seven Game Model gloves that Wilson Sporting Goods sells in its new 2018 line, which is now available at MLBShop.com. These were all designed for and by the MLB players who use them, and that includes Altuve, who is in his second year with a Game Model in the Wilson line.
"I think it helps me to make double plays," Altuve said of his game glove. "It does a little bit of everything for me -- double plays, backhand plays, one-handed plays. You have a deep pocket, and it's very firm. I really like it.
He not only has the luxury of being surrounded by one of Major League Baseball's most formidable teams, but also enjoys a substantial team backing from his glove-maker. Altuve has become one of the most valuable players on the Wilson MLB Advisory Staff. (Mark Newman - MLB.com - Oct. 2017)
- September 2006: Altuve signed with Astros' scouts Pablo Torrealba and Wolfgang Ramon.
July 13, 2013: The Astros and Altuve agreed to a four-year contract extension with a pair of option years, marking the team's first significant contract commitment under General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
The extension begins in 2014 and runs through the 2017 season, and has club options for '18 and '19. Additional terms were not disclosed, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported the deal is worth $12.5 million for four years, with the two club options worth $6 million and $6.5 million.
Altuve may be a little guy, at 5-feet-5, but he is not the slap hitter that he looks like. He can occasionally turn around a mistake and hit it out of the ballpark. Pitchers are inclined to challenge him because he’s not a big power threat and his speed allows him to turn a walk into a double or a triple, so he’s ready to hack from the first pitch.
He handles a bat well, hitting behind the runner efficiently. He sprays line drives to all fields or he reach base with a bunt.
If Jose had his way, he'd be taking Astros hitting coach John Mallee to the All-Star Game with him. "He's one of the best hitting coaches I've ever worked with," he said.
Altuve credits Mallee for helping him blossom into one of the best hitters in the game. "Man, I think he's the one who's having a good season for me," Altuve said. "We are working together and early this year we talked about doing some changes about mechanics, and obviously it's helped me a lot. He's a guy that should be in the All-Star Game for me."
Mallee and assistant hitting coach Ralph Dickenson worked with Altuve this year to be more selective at the plate, improve his plate discipline, and mechanically try to change his stride, putting in a leg kick, so that he stays in motion throughout the entire swing.
"We basically got rid of the early stride and stayed in motion, so now when he recognizes pitches, he recognizes it during his stride as opposed to when his foot is on the ground," Mallee said. "His stride timing became better and his overall timing became better, and that's why he's hitting more pitches than he was in the past. He's hitting the ball hard, too, because he's staying in motion."
Altuve is so appreciative of what Mallee has done for him, he gave him the bat he used to get his 500th career hit.
"That's something that means a lot, to be able to hit 500 in the big leagues," Altuve said. "He's the guy that's been helping me do this. He's a tremendous hitting coach, and I want to keep working with him in all the years coming up. I gave him the bat to tell him, 'I'm glad we're working together.'"
Mallee takes pride in how well Altuve has done. "We care so much about all of our guys, me and Ralph," he said. "For a player of his caliber, or any of our guys, to give us credit is nice. At the end of the day, they're the ones in the box, they're the ones hitting. We do the best we can to prepare them and give them the information on how the swing works and also the best approach against that day's pitcher." (McTaggart - mlb.com - 7/9/14)
On July 12, 2014, Altuve became the first player since 1933 to amass 130 hits and 40 steals prior to the All-Star break.
Jose is a line drive guy with gap-to-gap power and an unbelievably short stroke, and he doesn’t try to do too much. If you throw him in, he’ll pull the ball. If you throw him away, he’ll hit it to right. He’s not up there trying to manipulate the ball.
It helps that Altuve has uncanny hand-eye coordination. He swings and misses a meager 4.6 percent of the time, according to FanGraphs. Pitchers better be prepared to look at a lot of video if they want to find any holes in his swing.
“He’s an absolute machine,” an AL personnel man said. “When you watch him take batting practice, it’s a professional BP with a purpose. Beyond the approach and makeup stuff, which can only get you so far, his hitting hands are almost supernatural.
“The number of pitches, counted by both pitch type and location that he can turn into line drives the other way, is mind-boggling.” (Jerry Crasnick - Baseball America - 9/12/2014)
Altuve sets Astros' hit record:On September 16, 2014, Jose grounded a single back through the middle to collect his 211th hit of the year, eclipsing Craig Biggio's franchise mark for the Astros' franchise's single-season mark for hits.
Biggio's standard of 210 was set in 1998. Biggio also took part in the eight-minute ceremony, which began with a video showing all of Altuve's 211 hits en route to setting the franchise mark.
"This means a lot," Altuve said after the game. "The organization is doing everything for you. It makes me want to keep playing hard, and I want to thank all the front-office people, my coaches, my teammates what they did today."
Biggio and Minute Maid Park representative Fred Arnold presented Altuve with a coupon for 211 bottles of Minute Maid orange juice.
"I'm going to drink it all, on 211 different days," said a jovial Altuve. (Richard Dean - MLB.com - 9/20/2014)
September 21, 2014: Altuve's 219 hit put him in elite company among second baseman in baseball history. With the double off Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakima, Altuve passed Rod Carew for most hits in a season by a second baseman since 1936. Charlie Gehringer of the Tigers had 227 hits that year.
Altuve ended the 2014 season with 222 hits. The most in MLB since Ichiro Suzuki (225) in 2009.
In 2014, Altuve claimed the first batting crown in Astros' history with a .341 average.
He led the Major Leagues with 225 hits and a .341 batting average, to go along with 47 doubles, 59 RBIs, and 56 stolen bases (which led the AL). He led the Majors in average, multihit games, and three-hit games.
And Jose had a 6.0 WAR in 2014.
In 2016, Altuve won his second AL batting crown, hitting .338.
Jose begins his workday before sunrise. In this routine, he finds comfort. From this routine, he constructed a batting championship. "Everything he does matters," said his new 2015 manager, A.J. Hinch of the Astros.
That's the thing people go back to again and again when discussing the 2014 AL batting champion. Altuve is methodical in his preparation. Not just in batting practice, either, although that takes up much of his usual morning routine. He takes dozens of swings against an indoor batting machine, then a few dozen more off a hitting tee. He's so attuned to his mechanics that he looks for a certain feel at various checkpoints.
When he's off, he keeps working until he finds it, sometimes leaving the cage drenched in perspiration. Afterward, there are stretching exercises, core strengthening drills and weightlifting. Later, he will take dozens of ground balls at second base and more rounds of batting practice.
"His preparation is just unbelievable," said Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, who is both a mentor and friend. Both men are Venezuelan, and because Martinez is 12 years his senior, Altuve idolized him and was inspired by his success. When Altuve reached the Majors in 2011, one of the first congratulatory messages he got was from Martinez. And in the 2014 summer, they dueled down the stretch for the American League batting title. Altuve finished just ahead of Martinez, hitting .341 to Martinez's .335.
A congratulatory telephone call followed. "He told me he was proud of me," Altuve said. "That means so much." To Martinez, Altuve is a reminder that an athlete's heart and drive should not be underestimated. In those first years in the Majors, Altuve was famous, mostly because he was 5-foot-5. When Altuve began showing up at tryout camps Venezuela, one Major League team after another declined to offer him a contract for that reason. They told him they loved his skill set and his drive, but, well …
The Astros initially declined as well, but when Altuve kept showing up to try out, they became convinced that he was worth a shot. He was 16-years-old when he signed, 21 when he made his debut. (Justice - mlb.com - 3/9/15)
September, 11, 2015: Jose became the fastest Astros player to reach 800 hits with a first-inning double in a 3-2 loss to the Angels. Altuve's double in the first inning off Jered Weaver came in his 647th career game, besting the 707 games it took Cesar Cedeno to reach 800. Jeff Bagwell needed 708 games to reach 800 hits.
August 16, 2016: Jose Altuve made history against the Cardinals, notching his 1,000th career hit with a single in the bottom of the ninth in the Astros' 8-5 loss to St. Louis. It was Altuve's third hit of the night after he'd notched singles in two of his first three at-bats.
"I'm so proud of that guy," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He continues to be exceptional, and to have that moment where, in front of our home crowd, he can get his 1,000th hit in a very short time in his career is a real highlight in my career."
Houston's All-Star second baseman reached the milestone in 786 games, making him the fastest player to 1,000 in franchise history and the second fastest among active Major Leaguers behind Ichiro Suzuki, who did it in his 696th game. ( Jordan Ray - MLB.com )
Altuve is responsible for three of the four highest single-season hit totals in Astros history—225 in 2014, 216 this year and 200 in 2015. Only Craig Biggio, who collected 210 hits in 1998, had reached 200 hits in a season for the Astros before Altuve's arrival.
Altuve became the first Astros player to hit two triples and two doubles in the same game. He delivered a run-scoring double in the first inning before slamming triples in the third and fifth innings, and he finished his 4-for-5 showing with another double in the ninth.
Two doubles and two triples in one game hasn't happened since 2005, and only 13 times ever. Oddly enough, Altuve is the first player from that group to not score in the game.
May 17, 2017: Altuve became the third player in Astros history to record four extra-base hits in a game, joining Jeff Bagwell (June 14, 1996) and Kevin Bass (June 27, 1987). It's also Altuve's first career two-triple game.
June 11, 2017: Altuve moved into 10th place for hits in Astros franchise history. He has 1,124 hits in his career.
July 24, 2017: Altuve became the first player to produce at least 37 hits across 68 at-bats since Roger Hornsby—whose .358 lifetime batting average is good for second all-time behind Ty Cobb—achieved the feat way back in 1923, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Altuve also became the first player to collect 37 hits across a 15-game stretch since Ichiro Suzuki did the same back in 2004, per Elias Sports Bureau.
July 2017: Altuve's highly-explosive July was unlike the Majors has seen in years. The 5-foot-6 second baseman's .485 batting average in July was the highest in MLB since Chipper Jones' .500 average in the month in 2006.
September 27, 2017: Jose notched hit no. 200: The All-Star second baseman recorded his fourth consecutive 200-hit season by getting a single in the first inning.
Prior to Altuve, Craig Biggio (1998) was the only Astros player to get 200 hits in a season. Altuve is the fifth player since integration (1947) with at least four consecutive 200-hit seasons, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2001-10), Michael Young (2003-07), Wade Boggs (1983-89) and Kirby Puckett (1986-89).
October 1, 2017: Altuve won his third AL batting crown. Whatever you throw him, Altuve can hit. He ranked second in the Major Leagues in batting average against fastballs (.372) and also ranked second in batting average against breaking balls (.356). His average wasn't quite as high against changeups ("only" .281), but guess what? He slugged .667 against them, with six home runs -- a quarter of his career high-tying 24 this season.
- October 5, 2017: Altuve became the 10th player in MLB history with 3 home runs in a post-season game.
As of the start of the 2018 season, Altuve had a .316 career batting average with 1,250 hits, 243 doubles, 84 home runs and 403 RBI in 3,951 at-bats in the Majors.
- Jose displays a very good glove at second base. His defense is his best attribute as a player. He displays impressive agility and can dazzle with his defense.
He has quick, strong hands. And he has a fairly strong arm.
Altuve is consistent in the field.
Altuve turns the double play well. He works real well with the shortstop.
Jose plays above his tools. He does the small things. He has a baseball sense. He has savvy and is an opportunistic defender.
- In 2015, Altuve won the Rawlings Gold Glove for NL second basemen.
In 2012, his first full season in the Majors, he stole 33 bases for the Astros.
From 2013-2016, he had 30+ steals every year.
- In 2015, Altuve led the AL in stolen bases for the second year in a row.
- "It's just picking the right spots for him to run and doing our homework over the pitchers that he's going to face, starters and guys coming out of the bullpen," Astros first-base coach/baserunning coach Tarrik Brock said. "You have to know the hitters and the guys coming up behind him as well.
"Sometimes the threat of his running is greater than actually running and setting up the hitters behind him. In doing that, you catch some pitchers that fall asleep with him over there and being able to take advantage of it with him in scoring position. When he's ready to go, there's wasted time."
Manager Bo Porter said Altuve set out to improve his success rate when it came to stealing bases. "I give him a lot of credit," Porter said. "There was some room for growth, and Tarrik Brock has done a great job with the baserunning, and Altuve has done a good job taking the information and understanding the value of when to run, when not to run."
Porter said Altuve understands that being on first base can be beneficial to the hitters behind him, who may get more fastballs with him a threat to run to second. (McTaggart - mlb.com - 6/20/14)
In June 2014, Altuve became only the third player in modern Major League history with multiple steals in four straight games, the last being Cleveland's Ray Chapman in 1917.