An Underdog Story Re-Visited

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By EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
If you haven’t been paying attention you may have missed out on the new Mighty Mouse in baseball. His name is Jose Altuve. Though he may not be tall enough to ride all the rides at your local amusement park he is tall enough to stand with the big boys in MLB. If you only pay attention to what he has done on the field you are missing out on much of the story.

Altuve was not suppose to make it to the big leagues. He showed up for an open tryout for the Astros and after the first day was told to go home. Luckily for us as fans, he didn’t listen. He came back for day two of that workout and ultimately impressed the scouts enough to be signed.

We have seen Altuve over the years be a good on-base and batting average guy, not to mention he can steal a base whenever he wants to. This season however he has taken it to another level. He leads all of MLB in batting average and hits. He is second in second in total bases, top ten in stolen bases and third in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). On top of all that he has 21 home runs as of August 29th and is one of only five players with a 20/20 season to date.

Even with all of these impressive stats if you ask people outside of the main baseball fan base, and likely residents of the Houston area, they would have no clue who Jose Altuve is. He isn’t even the most well known player on his team thanks to last year’s Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa. He is by far the most underrated player in baseball and is making a very strong case to be the American League MVP. If I had a vote he would be my hands down MVP.

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What Were the Astros Thinking?

download-3In 2015 the Astros took the world by storm with their playoff run surprising nearly everyone. They had a team full of young, exciting, talent like George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Their pitching staff had the AL Cy Young award winner in Dallas Keuchel. Not to mention Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh. No they didn’t make it to the World Series, but they did put on a show.

Turn to 2016 and it is not hard to see that so far this season has been a disappointment. Those stud pitchers have been ordinary. Their offense has been hit or miss. They just can’t seem to bring back the excitement of last season.

At the trade deadline the Houston Astros were relatively quiet. With all the young talent they have in their minor league system you would have thought they would have made a big splash and gone after a difference maker, but they didn’t. Was it a mistake? Yes. Houston’s offense is going to be there as they have big bats throughout their lineup and more on the way with the inevitable call-up of Yulieski Gurriel. What they lack is a lock down starting pitcher. A slump buster. They guy that goes out there and says today we end our losing streak.

Chris Sale was reportedly available if the price was right and Houston was one of a few teams that could have offered the right price. A package that included multiple Triple-A studs could have been put together and not even made a dent in the future of the Astros. Instead Houston is without an ace pitcher and a log jam of talent that has them bringing prospects up only to split time and platoon.

I am no MLB general manager and never have been, other than in my own mind, but I have to think that the Astros made a big mistake at the deadline and were either prospect greedy or overconfident in the pitching staff they had.