Astros' Altuve brings big numbers to big showcase

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2014 - 12:57 AM

 

An elevated stage gave Jose Altuve a rare vantage point during Monday’s American League All-Star interview sessions. The Houston Astros’ 5-foot-6, two-time All-Star second baseman found himself perched at eye level with the occasional reporter interested in his major league-leading 130 hits.

Most of those conversations were done in Spanish. When the dialect changed to English, so did the subjects. Fellow Venezuelan All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Felix Hernandez dominated the conversation. Altuve can be overlooked in a crowd of baseball’s megastars and big bodies, despite quickly becoming one of the game’s young stars.

A piece of Altuve is already in the Hall of Fame. Coopers­town requested the cleats he wore June 29 when he stole more than one base for a fourth consecutive game. That hadn’t been done in 97 years, since Ray Chapman in 1917.

There’s more. The 24-year-old’s 130 hits, 29 doubles and 41 stolen bases are totals no player has reached in the first half of the season since the All-Star era began in 1933, according to MLB statisticians.

The righthanded-hitting infielder enters Tuesday’s All-Star Game with the AL’s second-best batting average (.335). He ranks second in doubles and third in at-bats (388). His batting average is third in the major leagues, behind Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki and Texas’ Adrian Beltre. Altuve, however, has nearly 80 more at-bats than the pair.

“It’s an honor for [the Hall of Fame] to have my cleats,” Altuve said. “I’ve just learned that if you keep working hard and don’t pay attention to the noise, you’re going to get where you want.”

The noise in Altuve’s life has always been focused around his height. In Little League it kept him on the bench of a local all-star team. Major league teams were hesitant to sign him.

Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez said he always knew Altuve would play in the big leagues one day. Perez and Altuve last shared all-star uniforms as Little Leaguers in Venezuela. Perez, a 6-3, 245-pounder and a big body since he was young, started for the Little League team and will start in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in place of the injured Matt Wieters. Altuve was stuck on the bench in his youth, undersized.

“Before he made the big leagues, everyone said something about his size. He’s not big. But he’s one of those guys I don’t know where to put it for the pitcher. I don’t know what to call,” Perez said.

The production is becoming too hard to ignore.

During his stretch of four consecutive games with multiple stolen bases, “SportsCenter” started a segment with a graphic showing Shaquille O’Neil and Altuve side by side. The difference was almost 2 feet. Altuve plays like a big star in his sport, though.

Earlier this season, Altuve relished the opportunity to hit fourth in the Astros’ lineup. He took a picture of the lineup card and texted it to Cabrera, the veteran Tigers slugger. Both grew up in the same town — Maracay, Venezuela. Cabrera said he’s excited to see new All-Star talent come out of his hometown, although he jokingly added that Astros manager Bo Porter is crazy for batting his smallest player at cleanup.

Altuve has plenty of support from his peers.

San Francisco All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence said it’s exciting when someone Altuve’s size walks into a clubhouse. Altuve made his major league debut hitting in front of Pence in the Astros lineup in July 2011.

“It makes it more interesting. That’s one of the cool things about baseball … tall, small, we all have different ways of getting it done,” Pence said. “He’s been spectacular, and it’s pretty amazing to watch.”

  • related content

  • American League batting order

    Monday July 14, 2014

    The batting orders announced by American League manager John Farrell for Tuesday's game.

  • Souhan: Mpls., Target Field host something truly special

    Tuesday July 15, 2014

    Tuesday night, a gorgeous ballpark in the heart of a picturesque city will frame the greatest baseball players in the world.

  • All-Star lineups filled with standout after standout

    Tuesday July 15, 2014

    Managers couldn't miss in making out the lineups of All-Stars at Target Field for Tuesday's game.

  • Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, left, stands only 5-6 but leads the league in hits and brings a bundle of energy on the bases with his 41 steals. The two-time All-Star has fought concerns about his size all his life.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - D. Hutchison 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka
Washington - S. Strasburg 12:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 12:30 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 4:00 PM
Washington
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(22) Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do on Sunday in New Orleans?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close