As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man of five foot five.
Upon his hand I caught sight of
The luster of a golden glove.
And resting on his shoulder right,
Five argent clubs gleaming bright.
Atop his head for all to see,
A batting crown (just one of three.)
“This man,” I thought, “must be a king,”
For that is when I saw his ring:
“World Champions” and just along
The side inscribed was “Houston Strong.”
I asked his name, he’d only say,
“I help the team. I love to play.”
Then Houston stood to answer me,
“José Altuve, MVP.”
There was never any doubt that José Altuve would reach the final four of the Crawfish Boxes’ March Madness tournament. He is accomplished. He is beloved. He is good and kind. He is an underdog that never gloats after he beats the odds.
The Final Four isn’t enough for José. He is the #1 Astro.
My writings at the Crawfish Boxes have largely centered upon statistics, analytics and evaluation of metrics. We don’t need that here. You can go to José Altuve’s Baseball-Reference page, Fangraphs page, Baseball Savant page. Numbers are only a small part of why José Altuve is so many people’s favorite Astro. They’re not a big part of the argument.
On June 18, 2018, the Houston Astros played the Tampa Bay Rays riding an 11-game win streak. A win would tie the franchise record for consecutive wins. Everything that José Altuve is was on display in this game.
Bottom of the 4th: Astros are losing 4-0, and have had only one baserunner the entire game. With 1-out, Altuve grounds a ball straight to the shortstop, a routine 6-3 groundout. Except Houston needs baserunners. Altuve flies down the line and beats the throw for an infield single, his 100th hit of the season. He would come around to score in a 2-run inning. What we need, Altuve provides.
Bottom of the 6th: Astros are still losing, 4-2, having gone hitless in the 5th. The Astros turn to Altuve again to lead off the 6th. What we need, Altuve provides. A double down the third base line, and Altuve reaches third base with no outs, having advanced to third reading a misplay by the Rays’ left fielder. He would come around to score. José Altuve has now started both scoring rallies in the game, and has scored 2 of the Astros’ 3 runs.
Bottom of the 8th: Astros are still losing, 4-3, having gone hitless again in the 7th. The Astros turn to Altuve yet again to lead off the 8th. Time is running short. What we need, Altuve provides. He singles to right to lead off the inning, and then steals second base and advances to third on the throwing error. He is at third base with 1 out.
José Altuve has done everything he could do to help his team come back from the early 4 run deficit.
José Altuve delivers when the Astros need it the most. When the city of Houston needs it the most. When Astros fans need it the most.
With Astros fans mired in 100 loss seasons, José Altuve was the lone bright spot when the Astros were difficult to watch.
With the city of Houston reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, José Altuve dominated the 2017 postseason and brought a World Series championship to a city desperate for a reason to smile.
When Astros fan faced as a “Say it ain’t so, José” moment after revelations of cheating using electronic sign stealing, data analysis exonerated Altuve by demonstrating that while everyone else around him had chosen to do the wrong thing, José Altuve did not participate in the cheating.
Astros fans were drowning in electronic sign stealing scandals waters, and learning that Altuve didn’t partake was a much needed life preserver.
What we need, Altuve provides.
Bottom of the 9th: The Astros are still losing, 4-3, having stranded Altuve on third base the previous inning. The Astros win on a walkoff 1-out 2-run double by. . . Alex Bregman. But if Bregman hadn’t come through, José Altuve was waiting on-deck.
José Altuve is always there when you need him most.
Altuve faces off against fellow legendary Astros second baseman Craig Biggio in the semifinal poll which you can vote in here.