Five foot seven. 170 pounds. 21 years of age. Jose Altuve can barely drink legally—and can probably barely drink physically, too—yet has a chance to shine brightest on the Astros this summer.
Altuve is a speedster with a knack for doing what speedsters do, which is speeding towards second after making it to first. In other words, he has the potential to steal 25 or more bases as soon as this year. Well said, I know.
He ended 2010 with a below-league average showing in High-A, putting up a .276/.333/.457 triple-slash that had no one in the right mind even speculating about a September cup of tea, let alone a mid-season call-up. But then a well-rounded season split between High-A and Double-A produced video-game numbers:
A .389 batting average.
24 steals and 40 strikeouts.
A 1.017 OPS*.
10 home runs in 87 games*.
I starred the last two numbers because—and I repeat—Jose Altuve is 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds. In other words, he is supposed to be a slap hitter, pure and simple. A look at his 50 percent groundball rate will tell you he is, but his minor league power is ignorable. Just look at the projections for his power this year.
Bill James has him pinned for 10 homers. Steamer has him at nine. ZiPS projections have him at 10. Oliver—the best of all, I may add—has him at eight.
So, let me synthesize. I am telling you the very small kid man at second base, who will likely steal 25 bases and challenge for a .300 batting average, will actually clear the fences more than a few times. And yes, I am telling you he’s available for a dollar. Theft!