It is no secret that the Houston Astros have been one of MLB‘s bottom-dwellers over the last eight seasons. While they were playoff contenders with the likes of Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio manning their diamond a decade ago, the roster has been reminiscent of a revolving door of late, seeing players like Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn go on to greener pastures after trades or free-agent deals with other clubs.
After a move from the NL Central to the AL West prior to the start of the 2013 season, the team looks to continue building with their highly rated farm system while locking up some major league talent to club-friendly deals. Perhaps their smartest move of late came this past July when they bought out the arbitration years of their young speedster, second baseman Jose Altuve, ensuring he will stay with the organization through the 2017 season at a reasonable price.
In 2013, Altuve hit .283 with five HRs and 52 RBIs in 152 games. We should see him cement the lead-off spot in 2014 due to his prowess for stolen bases (33) despite his inability to draw walks (32 in 672 plate appearances) and .316 OBP.
While his OBP was less than stellar overall, when batting in the lead-off spot things seemed to change. In 33 games, his OBP increased 60 points to .376. Plain and simple, his hitting approach was altered in the two-hole, and these statistics would indicate he was trying to do too much. Houston is not exactly flooded with offensive talent, and if they are smart Altuve will land the job which increases his value for fantasy baseball in droves. More chances to get on-base leads to more stealing, so you can draft him comfortably as the speed guy on your roster — especially for H2H category leagues and on a regular basis on daily fantasy sites. Expecting 40-45 is far from unreasonable, and it is possible he will exceed that with closer to 50.
Currently, you can find Altuve as the eighth ranked second baseman with an average draft position of 114th across many fantasy sites. If you decide not to draft from the first-tier of second basemen, it’s likely you will find yourself debating between Altuve and the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Aaron Hill. They are both great options but bring extremely different skill-sets to the table. Hill is more of a power hitter, and for that reason alone I think you should draft Jose Altuve as speed is harder to find.