Reacting to the Giants robbing them of the spanking Jeff Keppinger, the Houston Astros called up Jose Altuve. The 21-year old Second Baseman is a midget (technically classified as a hobbit), but as The Learning Channel has taught us, midgets can do (almost) everything a real person can. I believe Altuve is the shortest player in baseball at 5'6 (150 lbs). His diminutive stature aside, he is a pretty good ball player. You have to be highly skilled to play in the big leagues as a freshly minted 21-year old. Last year he hit .303 with 15 HR and 42 SB between A and A+ ball (125 games total). The pint-sized prospect is making the jump directly from AA-Corpus Christi, where he proudly boasts a .360/.388/.544 triple slash line. Can he make a smooth transition to the big leagues, will he be useful for us? Meet us after the jump for your Jose Altuve forecast.
Let's just get this out of the way. The power Altuve displayed in the minors (24 HR in his past 211 games) will not translate to the big leagues. Gnomes are not known for their physical strength. Obviously he'll face better pitching after the promotion, but we should also take note of the hitter-friendly ballparks that he called home. Lexington (A), Lancaster (A+) and Corpus Christi (AA) ballparks scored 131, 140 and 133 in Home Runs for Right Handed Batters. Houston has a hitter-friendly field, but it scores a 117 for RHB [StatCorner]. Jose has a little bit of pop, but don't expect much power from him.
Altuve has a short stroke and a almost non-existent strike zone, both of which help him limit Strikeouts. He makes plenty of contact and his speed helps prop up his BABIP and get on base. He hasn't hit many Line Drives up until his time at AA (small sample size, 34 games). The two seasons he spent in Lancaster he put up 14% and 13% Line Drive percentages (ewww). Something else that catches my eye is the disintegration of success in stealing bases as he climbs the ladder. He's been caught stealing five times in ten attempts at AA this season (9 times in 28 attempts at A+).
At Bats: 215 (60 games)
Strikeouts: 32 (14.9% K%)
Fly Balls: 64 (35% FB%)
Home Runs: 4 (6.3% HR/FB%)
BABIP: .324 (58 singles, doubles, triples)
Batting Average: .288
Stolen Bases: 9
From what I can tell Jose's HR/FB% was sitting between 10% and 12% during his stops in the minors. A 6.3% HR/FB% in the big leagues for a Lilliputian his age is pretty good. The Stolen Bases are the wild card. Will he be successful or will the improved techniques of advanced players gain the upper hand on Jose's speed? That's the question because we're not buying Altuve for the power numbers. Because MLBDepthCharts has Jose listed as the No. 2 hitter in the Astros lineup I hooked him up with 215 AB (560 over 155 games) and a slight boost in Runs. The official rest-of-season Jose Altuve forecast calls for a .288 AVG, 33 Runs, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 9 SB (215 AB).
Brad Mills says if he's healthy he is going to play. Jose will be starting at 2B tomorrow [twitvid]. Hopefully he lives up to expectations and Livan Hernandez doesn't try to eat him because Jason Bourgeois will be looking to poach At Bats when he returns from the DL. The Batting Average should be solid, but I'm not sold on the power and have doubts about the SB totals. While Jose Altuve is not exactly standard league material I think deeper leagues should definitely take a look his way.
Sorry for all the short jokes, I couldn't help myself - peace out - @andrewakamds
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I believe Altuve was No. 50 on Keith Law's mid-season prospect rankings. Kevin Goldstein wouldn't shut up about him on Twitter yesterday. Pedroia hit 8 HR in his first full season as a 24-year old. Rollins wasn't much better and both are a bit heavier (and older) than Altuve. It's hard to say how many SB Altuve could nab over a full season. 20 SB seems to be appropriate so my choice of 9 may be slightly optimistic. Altuve and Murphy will probably have similar value going forward.
Is it me or did this guy sort of come out of nowhere (especially considering how good "decent" he is)? Don't be so quick to cancel out the power though, as shorter guys with shorter swings can still squeak out a fair share ala Jimmy Rollins and Dustin Pedroia (who are at most 1 inch taller).
Does the SB projection reflect a conservative viewpoint given the struggles he had running efficiently at higher levels? Also, comparing him to other replacement 2B candidates such as Daniel Murphy...would you rate him higher ROS?