It’s always been a secret pleasure of mine to watch baseball projections fall flat. This is what Fanraphs said about Jose Altuve’s prospects going into 2019.
“While a knee injury seems to have ruined Altuve’s season, it was on the decline before it happened. Don’t be surprised if his home runs and stolen bases are in the teens going forward.”
It’s still a young season, but in 14 games the 28 year old Jose Altuve already has six home runs, which ties him for third in the AL, and his 0.8 WAR is tied for eighth.
In the last four games he has five home runs, including the only grand slam in his career. Prior to this run he has hit two regular season home runs in a game only three times, and had consecutive games with home runs only twice.
Since April 7th his slash line is .476/.520/1.190 for a 331 wRC+. His season wRC+ is 176. For his so far illustrious career including an MVP it is only 126. News of the demise of Jose Altuve is greatly exaggerated.
I wrote an article about Hall of Fame second basemen last winter and in the research I noticed that they tended to be late bloomers, unlike shortstops. For example, Joe Morgan’s best season was his age 32 season, OPS+ 186, bWAR 11. Rod Carew’s best season was his age 31 season, 178 OPS+, 9.7 bWAR. Ryne Sandberg’s best was his age 32 season, 145 OPS+, 7.8 bWAR, and Craig Biggio’s best season was his age 31 season, 143 OPS+, 9.4 bWAR.
We just saw the greatest five day regular season stretch in the career of Jose Altuve. It should be always etched deeply in our memories, sweeping the Yankees, beating the upstart Mariners, with a massive power display by a person 5’5”. As a Yankee commenter said: “their little guy is making our big guy ( 6’8” Aaron Judge) look small.” But if you measure size by heart, then Jose Altuve is no small guy, and I think what he showed us this week is that his best seasons, like those of his late blooming second base colleagues that have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame, are yet to come.
Any bets on whether Jose beats Steamer’s projection of 4.2 WAR?