Altuve with the Houston Astros
|Houston Astros – No. 27|
May 6, 1990 |
|July 20, 2011, for the Houston Astros|
(through July 24, 2016)
|Runs batted in||286|
|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). Altuve made his major league debut in July 2011. As of 2014, he is the shortest active MLB player at 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m).
Altuve has been selected to four All-Star Games, making his first All-Star Game start in 2015. 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 the batting title after hitting .341.
Altuve attended a tryout at the Houston Astros' facility in Venezuela. He was cut as the Astros felt he was too short. With the encouragement of his father, Altuve returned to the next tryout session, and was eventually given an evaluation. The Astros signed Altuve before the 2007 season as an undrafted free agent for a $15,000 signing bonus.
After a strong 2007 season in the Venezuelan Summer League in which he hit .343, he came 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 '09 and hit .324 with 21 steals in just 45 games, earning him a spot on the league all-star team, team MVP honors, and a promotion to the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League for two 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 majors 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 in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .339 with a .381 on-base percentage and a .455 slugging percentage. Altuve finished 2011 with 898 plate appearances (391 in the minors, 234 in the majors, and 273 in Venezuela). Altuve had 82 hits in winter league, bringing his cumulative year-end count to 282.
On May 1, 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 differential 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 at-bat for the St. Louis Browns. Altuve was the Astros' representative at the 2012 MLB All Star Game.
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 SB, 15 2B 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. In 2014, Altuve became the first MLB player since 1933 to have 130 hits and 40 stolen bases before the All-Star Break. Altuve was named an All-Star in 2014. Coupled with his 2012 All-Star nod 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 had 225 hits and a .341 batting average, both of which led the major leagues. His 56 stolen bases led the American League. He also had 47 doubles, 7 home runs, and 59 RBI. He became the first Astros player to win a batting title.
On September 11, 2015, Altuve hit his 800th career hit, surpassing Craig Biggio for the fastest Astro player to reach 800 hits. In the final game of the season, Altuve went 3 for 5 to hit the 200 hit mark for the second season in a row, becoming the first player in Astros history to achieve two 200 hit seasons in a row. This also makes Altuve the first player from Venezuela with multiple 200 hits seasons. Altuve finished the season with a .313 batting average, third best in the majors, and 15 HRs, a career high. He finished leading the American League in stolen bases for the second consecutive year. He also led the American league in fielding percentage (.993) for second base.
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 HowManyAltuves.com, has expanded it to include speed (Altuves per second) as well as cubic and squared Altuves for volume and area.
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