José Altuve is undoubtedly off to a slow start. After last night’s game, he’s driven in five runs, recorded three extra-base hits, and carries a .175/.298/.350 slash line. But let me tell you something: even though the Astros second baseman hasn’t hit the ball that hard at the beginning of the 2020 campaign, you shouldn’t be worried about him.
I know that this is a 60-game regular season and the AL West teams improved their rosters to compete this year, but Altuve will just be fine. His track record says so.
I’ll start telling you that out of 28 batted balls by Altuve through Monday, none have qualified as barrels. That’s the same as saying his Barrel % is at 0.0% after registering 8.1% last year. Plus, his exit velocity was at 84 MPH before Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, well below the MLB average (88.2 miles per hour).
Also, his launch angle is an 8ºC and went down for the third year in a row: 10.1ºC in 2018, 9.7ºC in 2019.
Basically, those are the reasons why his XBA (.183) and his XSLG (.223) were so low, at least until Monday.
BUT on Tuesday night —after going 0-for-6 on Sunday—, he homered on the first pitch off Madison Bumgarner. The ball left the bat at 107 MPH with a launch angle of 29 degrees. So there are vital signs from Altuve’s bat.
The Venezuelan has always excelled against fastballs and breaking pitches, though somehow he was hitting .095 and .154, respectively, off those deliveries prior to Tuesday’s game. You can certainly expect him to revert that bad luck anytime soon —maybe last night was the beginning of everything for José—.
Another hint on what might be around the corner is his batted ball profile. It’s true that Altuve usually hits it to the ground, but this year his doing so more than ever: 57.1% of his balls put in play was to the ground, almost 10% higher to 2018 (48.1%).
I’m not saying José is gonna hit .400 this year, but don’t you ever think that he’s gonna end up as he began. Even though this is Altuve’s worst start after a 10-game span, he’s got what it takes to figure things out at the plate. He has done it before and he will do it again.