Jose Altuve is an All-Star caliber second baseman — that much is certain. He has been the Houston Astros‘ spark plug since being called up in 2011. The problem has always been stocking the lineup around him with enough quality players to maximize his value. This goal may have finally come to fruition, as Altuve can finally be used where he is most valuable — hitting leadoff.
Altuve has been put in just about every place in the lineup, from the power-needy cleanup spot to his most valuable leadoff spot. One trend remains the same, though; the further down the order Altuve bats, the worse he does.
In 2013, he hit .241 batting third, .282 hitting second and .326 hitting leadoff, yet he spent the majority of his time hitting second and equal time between first and third. This was because of his undeniable value and the Astros’ need to place him wherever they need the most production.
The same trend can be seen this year, as he’s hitting .205 at cleanup, has minimal at-bats between hitting second and third and is hitting a stout .319 in the leadoff spot.
In his career with the Astros, Altuve has about 250 less at bats hitting leadoff than he does hitting second, yet he’s taken more walks and hit more home runs hitting first. The answer seems obvious; Altuve is a much more valuable player hitting leadoff, just like teammate Dexter Fowler is much more valuable hitting third. It’s just where they do the best based on their style of hitting.
Manager Bo Porter is beginning to show his understanding of his players, as the daily lineups are reflecting where each hitter hits the most successfully.