HOUSTON'S LITTLE BIG MAN AKA MR. 211* (*AND COUNTING)
Written by: Jermaine Every
Date posted: 9/18/2014
Jose “Gigante” Altuve may only be 5’5” and weigh about 175 lbs, but he casts a much larger shadow.
Tuesday night, Houston’s Little Big Man (aka "Mr. 211 and counting") broke Craig Biggio’s franchise record for hits in a season with #211 with a single up the middle in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians. His record-tying hit was a double down left-field line in the fifth. Both were classic Altuve hits. After the tying hit, Jose shook hands with Biggio who was sitting next to another Astro legend, Nolan Ryan.
After his record-breaking double in the seventh, fans gave him a standing ovation (about a minute’s worth of applause and cheers), fireworks went off, and Altuve tipped his cap and waved in appreciation. A simple gesture by the always humble Altuve. There’s only one thing that seemed to bother me about all this…the national media coverage.
Late Tuesday night, I’m flipping through the channels, scrolling my timeline on Twitter, peeked at FaceBook, and noticed something: hardly any mention of Altuve breaking Biggio’s record. This pissed me off a bit. Not because it’s a “national media doesn’t pay Houston enough attention” thing, or even a “Astros suck right now, so they get no love” thing. It was all due to “a great player broke a potential Hall of Famer’s team record and got no love” thing.
Let’s face it, Biggio should be in baseball’s HOF and soon. He played three different positions over a 20-year career, for the same team in the “Steroid Era”, and was cleaner than a fresh pair of J’s the first day out the box! This is the guy Altuve broke a record of, and he got little to no love from the national media?!?
Disrespect from national media aside, Altuve is the kind of baseball player this team needs to dig itself from the doldrums of less than mediocrity, if they plan on going further than being happy about not losing 100 games in a season. He’s the Astros’ JJ Watt: easily the most popular player, who also happens to be the team’s best player as well.
His stat line this year: .343 batting avg, 7 homers, 54 RBI, .379 OBP (On Base Percentage), .456 Slugging Percentage, .835 OPS (OBS + Slugging) , 52 steals, 43 doubles, 3 triples, 81 runs, 211 hits, only 51 strikeouts, and a 5.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). So what if the team is 67-85?
Why shouldn’t he be considered a candidate for AL MVP? The team has gone from 51-111, to 67 wins this year with 11 left to play. Compare his stats to last year’s MVP Andrew McCutchen via Baseball-Reference.com. Pretty similar, with a few exceptions here and there, most notable being team success.
But, if the MVP is truly the Most Valuable Player award (not the best player on the most successful team or best team award), Altuve has an argument. He should finish in the top 3-4 in final voting.
Bravo Gigante! You’ve done well. Hopefully, the team will be built around you in order to win sooner rather than later.