Is Jose Altuve Being Overvalued?

Second base is never going to be know as a “power position”. Yes, you have the occasional Robinson Cano or Ian Kinsler, but for the most part you are going to be targeting contributors in other categories, most notably speed. Enter the Astros’ Jose Altuve, the man who represented the team in the 2012 All-Star Game. You would think that type of statement would excite owners, but not so fast.

Altuve does have the advantage of playing half his games in Houston, so while he isn’t a real source of power he could luck his way into a few more HR than other options. Last season he hit 7 HR, nearly split between home (4) and away (3). Would it be surprising to see him contribute 10 HR? Not really, though we can’t go in expecting anything more than that (he did post a 27.1% fly ball rate, after all).

While the addition of the DH should help his RBI prospects a little bit, this is the Astros we are talking about. Hitting atop the lineup, the opportunities will be fairly limited.

That leaves runs, average and stolen bases, the three areas you would really expect to get contributions from him.

Last season Altuve hit .290 based off of an 11.7% strikeout rate, .321 BABIP and 20.2% line drive rate. There’s nothing unrealistic in those numbers and it is reasonable given his career .324 average in the minor leagues (courtesy of a .351 BABIP). Considering he only spent 144 AB at Double-A and not a second at Triple-A, it all seems reasonable.

The potential is there for him to hit .300, but his niche may be more as a .285-.295 hitter. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it also isn’t going to excite anyone.

The runs scored are also a potential issue. Generally a hitter with a good average hitting atop an order would be perceived as a good source of runs scored. The problem is the Astros offense is putrid (putting it kindly). Do they have a few potential “boppers” like Carlos Pena or Chris Carter? Yes, but those guys may also hit .220 or worse. Just because Altuve gets on base doesn’t mean he is going to score a lot of runs.

He proved last season that he is capable of stealing bases, with 33 SB in 44 attempts. It’s a nice number, but everything points to him as more of a one category contributor. Is 33 SB really enough?

The truth is that he is a Top 10 option this season, but that speaks more to the lack of quality options than his upside to produce. Looking at him just makes me want to make sure I leave my drafts with a Cano or Kinsler or Jason Kipnis or Ben Zobrist, or one of the other handful of top options.  Just look at our 2013 projection:

.290 (174-600), 10 HR, 50 RBI, 85 R, 32 SB, .325 BABIP, .338 OBP, .410 SLG

Breaking down Altuve shows that if you miss out on them you are likely going to be behind the eight ball from the start.

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2 comments

  1. wynams says:

    Just wanted to say … I stop by everyday.

    I don’t always agree with your takes, but imo .. you choose excellent topics.

    Rock On!

  2. jmax says:

    I think for him to hit 10 will be quite an accomplishment.
    His 3 road HRs came at Miller Park and US Cellular. Those two parks ranked #1 and #4 on ESPN Park Factors for HRs last yr.
    Add in more stops in OAK, LA and Seattle and being in the AL he’ll be facing tougher pitching.
    He also faded a in the 2nd half of the season. That’s something I’d expect from a guy listed at 5’5” 170lbs.
    I guess we’ll see what he’s made of this yr but for now I won’t expect alot of growth and I’d only be happy to get him outside of the top 10

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