A lot has changed over the past decade in major league baseball. One of the things that has stayed the same over that time is Jose Altuve being the key cog in the Houston Astros‘ lineup. When Altuve came to the majors in 2011, Houston was still in the National League. The Venezuelan native was the best player on quite a few losing Astros teams. When the Astros started winning, Altuve was the key piece that made the lineup flow. The 32-year old has done everything you can possibly do on a baseball field. He is an eight-time All-Star, a Gold Glover, five-time Silver Slugger, three-time Batting Title winner, ALCS MVP, AL MVP, and World Series champion.
While he isn’t competing for batting titles anymore, Altuve is just as great as he has ever been, just in different ways. In a lineup with stars like Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and Alex Bregman, Altuve continues to be the spark in the potent Astros lineup.
Altuve has won three Batting Titles, and led the AL in hits four times. In each of those seasons, he had a batting average of .338 or higher. While Altuve is no longer competing for batting titles, he is still putting up well-above average batting averages. He enters Sunday with a .287 batting average, which if it holds up, would be his highest since 2019. The batting averages have gone down in recent years compared to the part of his career, however, the power numbers have gone up.
Altuve hit 31 home runs in 2019 and 2021, and he is slugging .513 in 2022 thus far. He has slugged over .500 in four of his last seven seasons. No longer is Altuve the guy who will slash everything the other way. Over the past two seasons, his pull percentage is around 48%. The second-baseman is now taking advantage of the Crawford Boxes in left field, and now he is a legitimate power threat. The two biggest reasons for Altuve’s increase in power over the past half decade is his increase in pulling the ball, and his more selective approach at the plate.
Over the first half of his career, Altuve did not see a ball that he didn’t want to swing at. Over his first five seasons, Altuve did not have a walk percentage over 6.4%. Since 2016, his walk percentage has been over 8% in every year but one. He is walking at a career-high 10.7% of the time this year. The veteran has managed to increase his walk rate and power numbers while still maintaining elite contact skills. According to Baseball Savant, Altuve is in the 87th percentile in terms of strikeout rate.
Altuve entered the league in 2011, but his approach from then to now is completely different. He started out as the singles machine who was going to spray the ball all over the field. Now, more than a decade later, Altuve is a bonafide slugger. Whether he is at the top of the order, or the middle, Altuve makes a major impact on the Astros. While he has changed his approach over the years, one thing has stayed the same: Altuve is the catalyst of the Astros offense.
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