Altuve at the 2016 All-Star Game
|Houston Astros – No. 27|
Born: May 6, 1990|
Puerto Cabello, Venezuela
|July 20, 2011, for the Houston Astros|
|MLB statistics |
(through April 22, 2018)
|Runs batted in||413|
|Career highlights and awards|
José Carlos Altuve (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈtuβe]; born May 6, 1990) is a Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Astros signed Altuve as an amateur free agent on March 6, 2007, and he made his major league debut on July 20, 2011. A right-handed batter and thrower, as of 2017, he is the shortest active MLB player at 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m). His listed weight is 165 pounds (75 kg). From 2014−2017, Altuve recorded at least 200 hits each season and led the American League (AL) in the category. He won three batting championships in that span.
A five-time MLB All-Star, Altuve has been voted the starting second baseman for the AL in the All-Star Game three times. In 2017, he won the AL Most Valuable Player Award, the Hank Aaron Award, and became a World Series champion with the Astros, each for the first time. Also in 2017, Altuve was Sports Illustrated's co-Sportsperson of the Year with J. J. Watt of the NFL's Houston Texans for helping to lead relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Further awards Altuve received in 2017 were the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year, making him the fifth player to be selected in consecutive years, and Baseball America's Major League Player of the Year. He has also won four Silver Slugger Awards and one Rawlings Gold Glove. In 2014, he became the first player in over 80 years to reach 130 hits and 40 stolen bases before the All-Star Game. That same season, he became the first Astro to win a batting title after leading the AL with a .341 average. He has twice led the AL in stolen bases. From Maracay, Venezuela, Altuve played for the Venezuelan national team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC).
José Carlos Altuve is a native of Maracay, Venezuela, and grew up there. At age 7, he met fellow future major leaguer Salvador Pérez, who eventually became a catcher for the Kansas City Royals. The two competed together beginning in Maracay and many times in American League contests.
At age 16, Altuve attended a Houston Astros' tryout camp in Maracay. However, the team's scouts declined to allow him to participate because they decided he was too short and they suspected that he had lied about his age. The next day, with encouragement from his father, Altuve returned to the camp and produced his birth certificate. The Astros eventually gave Altuve an evaluation, and, after impressing team officials, they offered and signed him to a contract as an undrafted free agent on March 6, 2007, with a $15,000 (USD, $17,703.4 today) bonus.
After a strong 2007 season in the Venezuelan Summer League in which he hit .343, Altuve moved to the United States in 2008 and hit .284 in 40 games for the Greeneville Astros in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He returned to Greeneville in 2009 and hit .324 with 21 stolen bases in just 45 games, earning him a spot on the league All-Star team, team most valuable player (MVP) honors, and a promotion to the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League for which he played in 21 games. He began 2010 with the Lexington Legends of the Class A South Atlantic League, hitting .308 with 39 steals and 11 home runs and earning a spot on the league all-star team, then moved up to the Lancaster JetHawks in the Class A-Advanced California League and hit .276.
Returning to Lancaster for 2011, he hit .408 with 19 steals in 52 games. After being promoted to the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Class AA Texas League, he hit .361, giving him an overall line of .389 with 24 steals, 26 walks, and 40 strikeouts in 357 minor league at-bats that year. He was named the second baseman on Baseball America's 2011 Minor League All Star Team as well as the Houston Astros Minor League Player of the Year. Altuve was called up to the major league club in mid-summer, bypassing Class AAA level.
The Astros promoted Altuve to the major leagues for the first time on July 19, 2011. He represented the Astros at the 2011 All-Star Futures Game. He was named the second baseman on Baseball America's 2011 Minor League All-Star team. On July 27, 2011, Altuve tied Russ Johnson for the Astros record for most consecutive games with a hit to start a career with 7. On August 20, 2011, Altuve hit an inside-the-park home run, his first major league home-run. He became the first Astros player since Adam Everett in 2003 to hit an inside-the-park home run, the first Astros player to get his first major league home run on an inside-the-park home run since pitcher Butch Henry in 1992, and the first Astros player to lead off a game with an inside-the-park home run since Bill Doran in 1987. He batted .346 over his first 21 games before slumping a bit and ended the year with a .276 average. He also hit two home runs, stole seven bases, and posted a .358 slugging percentage in 221 at-bats.
Altuve returned to Venezuela to play for Navegantes del Magallanes, based in Valencia, Carabobo, in the Venezuelan Winter League. He hit .339 with a .381 on-base percentage and a .455 slugging percentage. Altuve finished 2011 with 898 aggregated plate appearances, including 391 in the minors, 234 with Houston, and 273 with the Magallanes. Altuve had 82 hits in winter league, bringing his cumulative year-end count to 282.
On May 1, 2012, Altuve faced New York Mets reliever Jon Rauch, who, at 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m), is the tallest player in major league history. The 18-inch (460 mm) height difference is believed to be the biggest between pitcher and batter with exception of a 1951 publicity stunt in which a 3-foot-7-inch (1.09 m) Eddie Gaedel had one plate appearance for the St. Louis Browns. Altuve was the Astros' representative at the All-Star Game, played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. This was his first career selection.
On July 13, 2013, Altuve signed a four-year, $12.5 million extension that includes two club options for 2018 and 2019 worth $6 and $6.5 million respectively. The deal also included a $750,000 bonus to be received in 2013. At the time of the extension, Altuve was hitting .280 with 21 stolen bases, 15 doubles, and 28 RBI.
On June 29, 2014, Altuve stole two bases in a game against the Detroit Tigers. This made him the first MLB player since Ray Chapman in 1917 to steal two or more bases in four consecutive games. Altuve became the first MLB player since 1933 to have 130 hits and 40 stolen bases before the All-Star Break. Altuve was named to the 2014 All-Star Game. Coupled with his 2012 All-Star appearance in the Astros' final season as a National League team, Altuve is the only player in Major League history to represent both the American and National Leagues in the All-Star Game while still being a member of the same team.
On September 16, Altuve hit a single up the middle to break Craig Biggio's franchise single-season hit record of 210 hits. The Astros had 11 games remaining in the season at the time that Altuve broke the record. In 158 games, Altuve totaled 225 hits and a .341 batting average, both of which led the major leagues, and 56 stolen bases, which led the American League. He also hit 47 doubles, seven home runs, and 59 RBI. He became the first Astros player to win a batting title.
After the 2014 season, Altuve traveled to Japan to participate in the 2014 Major League Baseball Japan All-Star Series. He was named the GIBBY/This Year in Baseball Award winner as the Breakout Everyday Player of the Year. He won the first Silver Slugger Award of his career, as the top hitter among American League second basemen. He was also bestowed his first iteration of the Luis Aparicio Award, annually given to the Venezuelan judged to produce the best individual performance.
Altuve was voted as the AL's starting second baseman for the MLB All-Star Game, edging Kansas City's Omar Infante by more than 600,000 votes. Altuve became the third Astro second baseman to be voted a starter, following Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent.
On September 11, 2015, Altuve recorded his 800th career hit, surpassing Biggio for the fastest Astro player to reach 800 hits. In the final game of the season, Altuve went 3-for-5 to reach 200 hits for the second season in a row, which led the American League, while becoming both the first player in Astros history and Venezuelan to accumulate multiple 200-hit seasons. He also led the AL in stolen bases (38), and his .313 batting average was third best in the majors. He reached then-career highs with each of 15 home runs, .459 SLG, 86 runs scored, and 66 RBI. He led American League second basemen in fielding percentage (.993).
The Astros clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the season, securing their place in the AL Wild Card Game versus the New York Yankees. Thus, Altuve made the MLB playoffs for the first time in his career. The Astros defeated the Yankees, 3−0. Altuve drove in Jonathan Villar in the seventh inning versus Yankee reliever Dellin Betances for the final run of the contest. Next, the Astros faced the Royals in the American League Division Series (ALDS), but were eliminated in five games.
For his performance in the month of June 2016, Altuve was named AL Player of the Month for the first time in his career. He had batted .420, six doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI, six stolen bases and 1.112 OPS (.492 OBP/.620 SLG) in 26 games. He became an All-Star selection for the fourth time of his career, and started for the second consecutive time. In 161 games, Altuve had an MLB-leading 216 hits, an AL-leading .338 batting average, 30 stolen bases. He also found a power surge with 42 doubles (the second most of his career and his third straight season with 40+ doubles), a career-high 24 home runs, and a career-high 96 RBI. This marked his second batting title, the last being in 2014.
At the end of the season, Altuve was named The Sporting News Player of the Year, and the MLBPA Players Choice Awards for Major League Player of the Year, AL Outstanding Player, and Majestic Athletic Always Game Award. He placed third in the AL MVP voting, behind winner Mike Trout and Mookie Betts.
One of the most memorable and debated manifestations to hallmark the 2017 season was Altuve's height and style of play contrasts with that of New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. At 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and 282 pounds (128 kg), Judge was a rookie who emerged as his chief rival in the 2017 Most Valuable Player (MVP) race, eventually breaking the record for both home runs hit (52) and walks drawn (127) by a rookie while leading the AL. A photo emerged of the pair standing side by side in a July Astros-Yankees game that exhibited their radical size difference and became a viral phenomenon.
In July, Altuve hit .485 for the fifth-highest average in one month since 1961. Over 23 games, he accumulated 48 hits, 10 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 21 RBI, and 1.251 OPS. He carried a 19-game hitting streak from July 2–23. He also recorded five consecutive multi-hit games during the week of July 3–9, becoming the ninth player in MLB history to do so. His average set the Astros record for one calendar month—surpassing Richard Hidalgo's .476 average in September of 2000—and he won his second AL Player of the Month Award.
Altuve concluded the 2017 campaign by playing in 153 contests with an MLB-leading and career-best .346 batting average, an AL-leading 204 hits, 39 doubles, 32 stolen bases, 24 home runs, and 84 RBI. The Astros finished with a 101−61 record, clinching the AL West division. Altuve became just the fifth hitter since integration in 1947 to record four straight 200-hit seasons, following Wade Boggs (1983−89), Kirby Puckett (1986−89), Ichiro Suzuki (2001−2010), and Michael Young (2003−07). He also became the first hitter in Major League history to solely lead his respective league in hits for four years in a row while also collecting his third career batting title. Suzuki technically led the AL in hits from 2006−10, but tied with Dustin Pedroia in 2008. Altuve led MLB in Wins Above Replacement (WAR, 8.3) for the first time in his career. On September 19, he was announced as the recipient of MLB's Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for 2017, as the player "who best exemplifies the giving character" of Gehrig. With 1,250 career hits at the end of 2017, only Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Pete Rose had accumulated more hits through their age-27 season.
In Game 1 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, Altuve hit three home runs in a single game for the first time of his career while becoming the tenth player to hit three home runs in a single postseason game. The Astros faced the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series (ALCS). After taking the first two games in Houston, with Altuve scoring the winning run in Game 2, Altuve and the Astros offense slumped as they lost all three middle games at Yankee Stadium. He hit a solo home run in a 4−0, Game 7 win in which the Astros advanced to their second World Series in franchise history, to face the National League pennant-winning Los Angeles Dodgers.
In Game 2 of the World Series, Altuve, along with two Astros teammates–Carlos Correa and George Springer—and two Dodgers players–Charlie Culberson and Yasiel Puig—all homered in extra innings as the Astros prevailed, 7−6. The five home runs accounted for the most hit in extra innings of any single game in major league history. Altuve homered in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 5, tying the score 7–7, and hit a game-tying double in the eighth, before the Astros prevailed 13–12 in the bottom of the 10th inning with a walk-off single from Alex Bregman. The World Series went on for seven games, and the Astros prevailed for the first title in franchise history.
In the Astros' 18-game championship run, Altuve batted .310/.388/.634, 22 hits, 14 runs scored, seven home runs, 14 RBI, and nine extra-base hits. He established a franchise record for total hits in a postseason. Further, he tied the record for home runs by a second baseman in a single postseason, and hit the fourth-most among all players. Along with pitcher Justin Verlander, Altuve was named winner of the Babe Ruth Award as MVP of the 2017 postseason.
Prior to Game 2 of the World Series, Altuve was presented with the Hank Aaron Award, the first of his career, as the "most outstanding offensive performer" in the American League. It was the first time a Houston Astros player had won the prize. Next, he was named The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, following Ted Williams (1941−42), Joe Morgan (1975−76), Albert Pujols (2008−09), and Miguel Cabrera (2012−13) as repeat winners in consecutive years of the honor given out since 1936. Other awards Altuve received in 2017 included Baseball America's Major League Player of the Year award, becoming the first Venezuelan since Johan Santana in 2006 to receive the award bestowed since 1998. He was also the first second baseman and first Astro ever to win it. For the second consecutive season, he won the Players Choice Awards for Major League Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player. He won his fourth consecutive and overall Silver Slugger Award at second base.
The Astros selected Altuve's option for 2018, worth a reported $6 million (USD, $6.0 million today), on November 3, 2017. On November 16, Altuve was conferred the AL Most Valuable Player Award, only the second Astro to win the award, following Jeff Bagwell in 1994. Altuve became the tenth second baseman to be granted MVP, and was the shortest player to win since Phil Rizzuto, also 5' 6", in 1950. On December 5, Altuve, along with Houston Texans defensive end J. J. Watt, were named co-winners of the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award for his efforts in leading the Astros to their first World Series title and aiding in the recovery of the Greater Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Altuve became the 18th Major League Baseball player to win the award in its 64-year history, and both the first Houston Astro and first Venezuelan player. He was also selected the 2017 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
Prior to the 2018 season, Sports Illustrated ranked Altuve the #2 player in baseball, trailing only Trout. On March 16, 2018, Altuve and the Astros agreed to a five-year, $151 million contract extension that would span the 2020–24 seasons. His current contract included a $6 million salary in 2018 and a $6.5 million team option in 2019. It was the largest contract in team history, and he became the sixth player to agree to a contract with an average annual value of over $30 million per season.
Originally listed at 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m), Altuve is now listed at his correct height of 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m), making him the shortest active player in Major League Baseball, and the shortest since Freddie Patek retired following the 1981 season.
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... When they told me how many 'Altuves' was a home run, I just laughed." Trostel, who published his calculator at How Many Altuves, has expanded it to include speed (Altuves per second) as well as cubic and squared Altuves for volume and area.
On November 1, 2016, Altuve and his wife Nina gave birth to their first child, a girl.
- Houston Astros award winners and league leaders
- List of Houston Astros team records
- List of Major League Baseball career batting average leaders
- List of Major League Baseball hit records
- List of Major League Baseball players from Venezuela
- Major League Baseball titles leaders
- Major League Baseball titles streaks
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