From BR Bullpen
José Carlos Altuve
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 5", Weight 170 lb.
 Biographical Information
He played in the Futures Game then reached the majors with Houston in 2011. He was called up by the Astros on July 20th, replacing Jeff Keppinger, who had been traded to the San Francisco Giants the previous day. In his first game that same day, he was Houston's starting second baseman against the Washington Nationals and went 1 for 5. On August 20th, he hit the first inside-the-park home run for the Astros since Adam Everett in 2003 when he led off the 1st inning against the Giants with a drive to deep left-center that allowed him to round the bases without even having to slide. It was his first major league homer, coming off Madison Bumgarner, and set his team off to a 7-5 win over the defending World Champions. For his rookie year, he hit .276/.297/.357 in 57 games.
Altuve had a very good second year for the Astros, as one of the few productive players on a rebuilding team that finished with the worst record in baseball that year. He was the team's lone representative to the All-Star Game and hit .290 with 34 doubles while scoring 80 runs. He improved his OBP to .340 and his slugging percentage to .399, giving him an OPS+ of 101. Just before the All-Star break in 2013, he was signed to a four-year contract with club options for two more years, confirming that he was one of the cornerstones on which the Astros intended to rebuild. However, his production went down over the previous season, as he finished at .283/.316/.363 with the Astros now playing in the American League. He led the league in caught stealing with 13, but stole 35 bases. Other positives were that his 177 hits and 52 RBIs were both improvements over his first two seasons, but his OPS+ fell back to 89.
In 2014, however, he had a break-out season. In June, he stole multiple bases in four straight games, something no one had accomplished since Ray Chapman in 1917. On July 7th, he collected his 124th hit of the year to break the franchise mark for most hits before the All-Star break, breaking a mark set by Bob Watson with 5 games still to play before the midsummer classic. His excellent performance also meant that he was chosen as the Astros' representative at the 2014 All-Star Game, earning the honor for the second time in three years. He also had 39 stolen bases at that point, although that was still 9 behind Gerald Young's club mark for most before the break. On September 10th, he collected his 200th hit of the year, becoming only the second player in Astros history to do so, after Craig Biggio; he had a good shot of breaking Biggio's team record of 2010 with three weeks still to go. He was leading the AL in hits, stolen bases and batting average at that point. He broke Biggio's mark on September 16th, when he collected hits #210 and 211; he was red hot at that point, having collected multiple hits in 6 consecutive games as he was trying to clinch the first batting title in team history. His 219th hit on September 21st gave him the most by a second baseman since Charlie Gehringer had 227 in 1936; Rod Carew's 218 in 1974 had been the most in the intervening period. By going 2-for-4 on the season's final day, September 28th, he became the first Astros player to win a batting title, finishing at .341 with 225 hits; the runner-up was Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers, at .335. He was originally not going to play on the final day, to protect a lead of .003 over Martinez, but insisted on being in the line-up and ended up increasing his margin of victory. His 47 doubles and 56 stolen bases also led the American League.
As spring training opened in 2015, a crew from MLB Productions was following José around in order to film a documentary feature about him, to be aired on the MLB Network early in the season. The documentary was a brainchild of Astros owner Jim Crane, who wanted to get his team some publicity while making the charismatic young player better known to fans. Footage had already been shot in Japan when Altuve took part in the 2014 Nichi-Bei Series the previous November and also in Altuve's native Venezuela over the winter. For his part, Altuve stated: "I feel like Brad Pitt, like a movie actor. This might be my start in Hollywood, don't you think?" He was again red hot in the season's first month, as he ended April with a string of eight consecutive multi-hit games during which he went 19 for 39 (.487). In the last of these, on April 30th, his third hit of the game drove in Marwin Gonzalez from second base to give Houston a walk-off, 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners. One thing that was different, though, was that the Astros were on top of the AL West standings at that early point of the season, finishing the month with a record of 15-7, tied with the Kansas City Royals for best in the American League. He then started May just where he had left off the previous month - with a ninth straight multi-hit game in a 4-3 win over Seattle. This tied the team record shared by Jesus Alou and Billy Hatcher. Altuve had another great month in August, as he reached base in every game and tied a club record held by Alou with 45 hits in the month. he hit .375 during the month, raising his average from .297 to .316. He finished the year at .313 in 154 games, leading the league with 200 hits and 38 stolen bases (but also 13 times caught stealing). The Astros made the postseason for the first time since moving to the AL and he went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base as they beat the New York Yankees in the Wild Card Game. However, the Kansas City Royals managed to muzzle him in the Division Series, limiting him to 3 hits in 22 at-bats (.136) with 2 runs and 1 RBI, while catcher Salvador Perez cut him down in his only stolen base attempt.
On June 25, 2016, he came very close to hitting for the cycle in a 13-5 win over the Royals. He had already hit a single, a double and a homer when he hit a ball to the wall in the 8th. He was going for the missing triple when, approaching second at full speed, his helmet fell off his head and into his feet, tripping him up and he landed on second base in a pratfall. He took it in stride as his teammates ribbed him from the dugout, and then he came in to score on a double by Carlos Correa. He was named the American League Player of the Month for June on the strength of batting .320 with 19 runs and 15 RBIs in 26 games. He finished the first half of the season with 113 hits in 81 games, an Astros team record and was leading the AL in both batting average and hits at that point.
 Notable Achievements
- 4-time All-Star (2012 & 2014-2016)
- AL Gold Glove Winner (2015)
- 2-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2014 & 2015)
- AL Batting Average Leader (2014)
- AL At-Bats Leader (2015)
- 2-time AL Hits Leader (2014 & 2015)
- AL Singles Leader (2014)
- 2-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (2014 & 2015)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (2014 & 2015)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (2014)
 Further Reading
- Jose L. Ortiz: "How Astros' Jose Altuve turned himself into an MVP candidate", USA Today Sports, July 20, 2016. 
- John Perrotto: "Novelty no more: Astros' Jose Altuve in the conversation as one of baseball's best", USA Today Sports, July 11, 2016. 
- Roger Schlueter: "The short of it: 10 amazing Altuve facts: Diminutive All-Star on early track to rank among all-time best second basemen", mlb.com, March 10, 2016.