HOUSTON -- Everyone’s Favorite Second Baseman just turned 22.
Of all his nicknames, that’s the one I like the best. Call him Pocket Jesus, El Escorpion or Mighty Mite. By any name, Jose Altuve can flat out play.
His story is so good and he plays the game so well at times that it’s tough for people to not root, root, root for him.
Did you know that Jose Altuve became the first Astros player to hit a home run and steal home in the same game earlier this season? Yeah, you did if you read Bob West’s Sunday column.
Did you know that Altuve is on pace for 48 doubles this season? That’s more than . His 40 double, 30 steal, 10 homer pace would also make him unique in MLB history and put him in the company of guys like Delino DeShields and Jimmy Rollins.
Altuve, though, would be the youngest on that list by far.
Did you know that Altuve, going into Friday’s game against Texas, led all second basemen in the majors in both batting average and hits, was second in slugging and on-base percentage and second in triples?
That’s a higher than noted sluggers like Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips and Ian Kinsler.
Jose Altuve should be Everyone’s Favorite Second Baseman because he’s so much fun to watch. He hits everything in sight, is one of the toughest players in the majors to strike out, and has enough speed to make an impact on the bases. In short, he’s the perfect leadoff man.
Oh, and don’t forget his power. He’s got plenty of that, and probably enough to hit 15 homers a season at his peak. A guy hitting 40 doubles and 15 homers a year at second base sounds an awful lot like a certain future Hall of Famer that used to play in Houston.
No, not Jeff Kent. That’d be Craig Biggio.
There are so many reasons why Jose Altuve should be Everyone’s Favorite Second Baseman, and most of them don’t have anything to do with his height. But, that’s obviously going to be a starting point for any discussion about him for the near future. Altuve is listed as 5-foot-5 in the media guides, so naturally people assume he’s even shorter than that.
His height has made him famous to the point that there’s a website called HowManyAltuves.com, which has a calculator to tell you just how many Altuves it would take to measure something. Like, the distance from Minute Maid Park to Port Arthur is 86,456.7 Altuves. Or, the distance from Houston to Kansas City, host of the 2012 All-Star Game is almost 4 million Altuves.
That’s also about as wide as the actual gulf between Jose Altuve and getting into the All-Star Game this season. The second baseman probably deserves to be there, along with fellow double-play mate Jed Lowrie, as there are not two middle infielders better than the pair in all of baseball. There may be some with better reputations, but what Altuve and Lowrie are on pace to do is truly special.
Altuve is currently fifth in the All-Star fan voting, so he could use your help. His rush to popularity have made him the odds-on choice to make the roster, if we’re going by fan voting. But, if Altuve doesn’t make it that way, in favor of bigger names like Atlanta’s Dan Uggla, he’ll have to get in with either the player voting or be picked by NL manager Tony LaRussa.
In that case, Houston’s All-Star representative may be Wandy Rodriguez, who can give LaRussa a lefty out of the bullpen late in that game. But, in his first full season, Jose Altuve is certainly making a case he should be there.
The thing that makes him Everyone’s Favorite Second Baseman to me is not his size; it’s his attitude. Talking with host families who interacted with him in the minors, it’s clear what a high regard they hold him in. Altuve used to room with English-speaking teammates in the minors to prepare himself for making it to the majors. He’s hit at every level in the minors he went to and compiled over 1,000 plate appearances last season alone.
Jose Altuve just oozes passion for the game and a willingness to work to overcome all those nay-sayers. Professional scouts are paid to play the odds. They have to see players and project them four or five years down the road. They see a guy like Altuve, and he looks different than anyone else they’ve seen, so naturally, they downplay his future impact.
Last offseason, many national prospect minds were down on Altuve’s chances to contribute at the majors, saying he never walked, would never hit and would only play passable defense.
They apparently didn’t look at his minor league numbers, that saw Altuve walk between 8 and 10 percent of the time. Or that he hit for decent power at every level he was at.
Has Jose Altuve ever hinted that he’s been insulted by this kind of thinking?
Nope, he just goes out and plays hard, picking up two, three, four hits a game and then turning around and doing it again.
A friend of mine told me earlier this season that he really liked Houston infielder Marwin Gonzalez, because he had a “major-league body.” How many people in the general population can say that? Maybe 1 percent? I know I’ll never be accused of having a “major-league body.”
Jose Altuve may not have that kind of body, but he’s playing baseball at the highest level anyway. He should absolutely be held up by Little League coaches everywhere as an example of how not to let other people’s assumptions define you.
He should be that example.
He should be Everyone’s Favorite Second Baseman.
David Coleman writes features and columns for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @MDavidColeman.
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Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
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