Houston Astros: Jose Altuve: The Cornerstone


Here we are, the Houston Astros have three games left in the season and are about to head into their last series against the New York Mets.

This season, in my opinion, has been one of triumph but it also has served as a learning experience for the men that take the field every game.

Despite how the Astros do these next three games, they still will have the best record in nearly five seasons.

That definitely means that the spiral motion downward toward the cellar of the AL West has completed.

I had always wondered when this would happen but it seems the Astros have made that turning point.

And there’s more in store for fans in the future.

Sep 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Astros infielder Jose Altuve (27) reacts after infielder Gregorio Petit (not pictured) hit an RBI single against the Oakland Athletics in the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. The Astros defeated the Athletics 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost as if the franchise was telling us, “stick with us, be patient, good times are coming!”

I think they are…

Although this past series against the Texas Rangers wasn’t all that fun to watch, the season as a whole has been.

There is one fixture, one cornerstone, one player who represents greatness.

Who you may ask?

Jose Altuve.

He stands only 5’5″ tall but as bite-size as his frame is, his unquestionable grit, love for the game and swing of his bat is as mighty as a giant.

Time has passed so quickly since July 20, 2011, his debut for the Astros.

I never knew that he’d be the mammoth of a player that he has become today.

I honestly thought that he was just another prospect just passing through as Ed Wade was working on cleaning up the mistakes of Tim Purpura and rebuilding for the future.

But that’s not so…

Something was peculiar about him because while I was watching the team on television while they were on the road back then, he seemed to be a hit machine, always working hard to make a play and made impressive defensive strides in the infield.

September 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) hits a two-RBI double scoring catcher Carlos Corporan (22, not pictured) and shortstop Jonathan Villar (2, not pictured) against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I was not in attendance when he made his first appearance at Minute Maid Park but I did get to see him for the first time when the team took on the Milwaukee Brewers, the opponent of the next home stand scheduled for the weekend.

Yep, I recall it, it was Friday, Aug. 5, 2011 — he didn’t have all that impressive of a game, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Yovani Gallardo‘s pitching totally dominated the Astros while Ryan Braun and Corey Hart completed the final blows to a defenseless 7-1 beat down.

At that time, losing is what you’d expect from the team and actual win of a game would be a treat!

Anyway, as time has progressed, he has become a fixture of the Astros’ charge forward and I tend to forget that he has only been with us close to almost four seasons.

He’s truly living the American dream…

Sep 24, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) reacts before the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Out of the tropical climate of Venezuela deeply rooted in Maracay or also known as Cuidad Jardin, his native city, he took the Venezuelan Summer League by storm because of his never-ending quest to hit the baseball.

The Astros had their eye on him, so they plucked him out of there and transplanted him into the Astros’ farm system to catch root so that he may blossom.

It was 2007.

It didn’t take that long and he continued to excel as he moved up the ranks…

Because there was such a need, Altuve didn’t make the final step to Triple-A, he was already there…

The type of season that he has had is one that is highly remarkable and one that we’ll be talking about for a long time.

So just how has he been doing?

This season, he leads the league in a lot offensive/defensive categories most notably in batting average (.343), hits (222), and double plays turned from 2nd base (105).

His Offensive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is sitting at a 6.6 — which is definitely MVP status.  His overall WAR is at a 6.0 — which is still quite stellar and good enough for at least the Top 25 in the league.

Bar none, the guy is a stud and will be so for years to come.

That’s why I deem him as the cornerstone to a franchise that is on the move.

When he misses games, the jolt of his absence is felt and it’s likely that the team is going to lose any given game without him.

The Astros need continue to raise his pay as he as well as the team grows and success is earned.

I know the franchise is being cautious since they signed Carlos Lee to that ill-fated six-year, $100 million deal a few years back but this guy will earn every penny and it’s quite apparent that he LOVES to play here.

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For years, we’ve needed a 2nd baseman that could fill the shoes of Craig Biggio, one of the greatest Astros’ players of all-time, I honestly think Altuve will and then some.

Altuve will make a name for himself.  Heck, he just broke Biggio’s single-season 210-hits record that had been intact for 16 years.

At the end of the day, his No. 27 will be retired up in the rafters just above the scoreboard along with other Astros’ legends.

Just wait…

Take a bow, Jose.

What a season you’ve had, you’re just five hits shy of the Top 50 of all-time as far as single-season hitting records.  That list is quite exclusive — guys like Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Pete Rose, Wade Boggs, Kirby Puckett and most recently Ichiro Suzuki are on that list.

Thanks for making this season one of the most watchable in years…

Go ‘Stros!