Updated: Mar 19
There is one Astros player I have not really needed to write about in the last two years because he has been a given. He has been so consistently GREAT that I like most Astros fans just take it for granted. That changed last night when Jose Altuve reportedly broke his right thumb in the WBC on a pitch inside from Daniel Bard that forever will put Bard in my perpetual doghouse for the rest of his life.
If you aren't concerned now about the 2023 Astros and slightly panicking about the prospect of being without Altuve for 2-4 months, then you too simply do not understand the greatness we have been blessed with in Houston and/or you are too young to remember life before Jose Altuve.
Disclaimer: There are two Astros I will verbally go to war for on this website. These two ARE the heart and soul of this franchise and this dynasty- Altuve and Bregman. Altuve even more than Bregman because he is simply a better human being than 99% of humanity. Fans in Houston know this. Shitty fans rejoicing today that Altuve is hurt are dead to me. With that being said, I am about to show you WHY Altuve is special and above EVERY other 2B currently in the MLB.
First, let's compare Jose Altuve to the other active second basemen that have played in more than 600 games. Why 600? I am not going to discuss career greatness with players that have not exceeded the equivalent of four full seasons. There are 22 players in this group. You will see that Altuve runs laps around ALL of them.
WAR- Jose Aluve has almost DOUBLE the WAR to anyone in this group. Altuve has 48.5 WAR to the next highest DJ LeMahieu at 26. Both have played 12 seasons. Altuve is just THAT much better.
You may say WAR is not a fair metric because most of these players have not been in the league as long as Altuve. OK let's look at OPS.
OPS- Altuve (0.830) is almost 40 points better in OPS than Albies (0.792). Do you understand that it is really Altuve and all the rest when it comes to hitting 2B? He absolutely DOMINATES other 2B in hitting.
To be fair, give McNeil another season and he is Altuve's peer as far as hitting 2B. Give Brandon Lowe two more years and he can join the club. However, those two are not even CLOSE to the sustained over a decade level hitting of Altuve.
WRC+- Let's look at WRC+ to factor out yearly productivity factors. Altuve dominates the 21 others again with the Planco at 111 to Altuve's 129. Again, McNeil and Lowe are the only two 2B in Altuve's peer group. Let them do it for 600 games.
Yes folks, Altuve is the greatest hitting second baseman among the active players. You and I do NOT truly appreciate how GREAT he is.
Let's try to put it in the overall HISTORICAL TERMS.
WAR- with the same 600 game criteria the Fangraphs.com database gave me 455 historical 2B of all time. Jose Altuve, who is not done yet, is 25th in WAR. I repeat he is 25th out of 455 second basement in the ENTIRE HISTORY of the MLB. You can't really read this graph but know this. Altuve is in red here too.
OPS- This stat has varied over the generations of baseball so maybe it is a little unfair, but Altuve is 10th in this group. Yes, I said TENTH out of 455 second basemen.
WRC+- I saved the best stat for last. This is going to blow your mind. WRC+ is a stat which adjusts for the productivity of the game in any season. It is the best stat to use when comparing hitters across generations. Are you ready?
Jose Altuve is 8th in WRC+ among all of the 2B that have played 600 games or more. Yes, Altuve is among any of the greatest second basemen you would name. His 129 wRC+ compares to that other Astros great second baseman named Biggio who hit 115 wRC+. Biggio is the orange bar below (30th).
Here are the top 10.
So, there you have it. Jose Altuve is the Greatest Second baseman of his generation. If you are under 35, he is the greatest 2B you have seen playing. He will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Fans in Houston know he is also one of the most humble and excellent people you will ever meet.
What will the Houston Astros do without him? Click the button to find out.