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José Altuve deserves a chance as the leadoff guy

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With Springer being part of the past, Altuve is likely to begin the season as the first man in the Astros’ lineup.

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Six Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Now that George Springer is going to wear a different jersey in 2021 and beyond, the Astros need to forget about him and focus on who their leadoff man is going to be for the upcoming MLB season.

Manager Dusty Baker seems to be leaning towards José Altuve to open the lineup when the campaign kicks off. In fact, Saturday marked the fifth consecutive game where the Venezuelan second baseman was the first hitter of the Astros’ offensive order.

And even though it was a possibility that Alex Bregman could become the new leadoff man, he’s expected to serve again as an important part of the heart of the lineup. So it seems Altuve is our guy, and he has all the credibility and deserves all the support.

It’s true Altuve went through a rough season last year, as he wasn’t comfortable at all after the sign-stealing scandal went up. He was an unrecognizable hitter that posted a .219/.286/.344/.629 slash line and, luckily, had his best version of himself during the postseason. But “Astroboy” —as people know him in Venezuela— is ready to thrive again.

And it’s not that Altuve’s been bad leading off. He’s occupied that slot 381 times in his career so far, slashing .315/.363/.464/.827. And even Altuve doesn’t take too long in his at-bats (3.37 pitches per appearance in his career), you can’t forget about his respectable contact (85.3%), which is notably better than Springer’s lifetime 71.9%.

Enjoy the following comparison between Altuve and Springer in the leadoff spot:

And in case you’re wondering about power, Altuve has something to say, too. From 2015 to 2019, he hit at least 15 home runs in all but one season (2018, 13) and that includes a 31-homer campaign in 2019.

At least in his prime, Altuve gave the Astros plenty of hits, tremendous on-base skills, and speed. On the verge of turning 31 years old on May 6, he’ll be tested to provide good offense and to prove he can be the catalyst he’s always been for the Astros.

With the Astros not expected to go after somebody else via trade or free agency, this team is what we have. It’s Baker’s turn to align his weapons the best possible way to get some wins since April 1.