Jose Altuve has Astros in familiar spot
Jose Altuve has anchored Astros' greatest run
HOUSTON – The Astros were on the brink of their first 100-loss season in franchise history when Jose Altuve made his major league debut on July 20, 2011. They lost 107 games in Altuve’s second season. Then they lost a franchise record 111 games in 2013.
In other words, Altuve appreciates how difficult the Astros’ journey was to the top. The Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, native doesn’t want to return to their losing way. His only goal in the postseason is simple: win.
Altuve and the Astros are now in their seventh consecutive American League Championship Series. Jose Altuve slowly started to help create a winning culture in Houston. While finishing with the worst record in baseball for three consecutive seasons, the Astros added key pieces from MLB’s amateur draft to change their fortunes around.
The Astros built around Altuve. They drafted Carlos Correa first overall in 2012. They also picked Alex Bregman second in the 2015 draft. George Springer, the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft, arrived in the majors in 2014.
A true anchor
The quartet amassed five postseason appearances. They broke a 10-year postseason drought in 2015. Then they won the 2017 World Series title, the first championship in franchise history.
Winning has been tradition in Houston over the last seven seasons. The Astros clinched their seventh consecutive ALCS appearance and have been in four of the last six World Series. They’ll face the Texas Rangers in the best-of-seven ALCS, which starts Sunday night at Minute Maid Park.
When it comes to the postseason, the Astros have the most wins in the postseason since 2017. Altuve is determined to add to their record and lift the Commissioner’s Trophy for a third time.
“I always think about winning,” said Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP. “But the season you have 162 (games) to make a lot of adjustments, versus now you have to win today and the next day. And just almost like no tomorrow. So I think the whole team focuses on winning, focusing on advancing to the World Series.”
Jose Altuve, 33, has had a huge impact in the postseason for the Astros. His 24 home runs are five home runs shy from tying former Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians star Manny Ramirez for most in postseason history. He has 50 RBIs, a career .270 batting average and .830 OPS in the playoffs.
The 5-foot-6 second baseman ranks fourth all-time with 107 postseason hits. He trails only Ramirez and former Yankees stars Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter. He had one home run and RBI with four hits in this year’s ALDS.
The Astros now face the Rangers for the first time in the postseason. Both teams have had some bad blood this season. Although the Rangers led the AL West for 159 days, the Astros won the division after both teams finished with a 90-72 record. Houston held the tiebreaker after winning the season series 9-4.
While both teams have a strong offense and talented players that they have relied on throughout the year, Houston stands out by their extraordinary clubhouse camaraderie.
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Since Altuve has been with the Astros, current and former Astros have applauded the culture the Astros have created and sustained. Houston is adamant this is their recipe for success.
“I think the locker room culture … has a lot to do with it, the personnel of the guys,” Justin Verlander said. “Not only do we expect to be here, but we plan it and prepare for it and go and play the game with that in mind.
“I know it sounds simple, but I think it’s very easy to become complacent after you’ve been there, done that for a while. And that just doesn’t happen here.”
Jose Altuve is key to winning culture
Verlander was traded to the Astros at the 2017 trade deadline after spending 10 years with the Tigers. He has raved about the brotherhood he experienced in Houston. Verlander and the Astros could not work on a contract at the end of the 2022 season, so he signed a two-year $86.7 million deal with the Mets.
He was traded back to Houston at the trade deadline this year. After a short stint with New York, Verlander was thrilled to be back with Altuve and the rest of his teammates.
“You go to the ALCS, you win a World Series … a lot of the times I would expect that you show up in spring training the next year with a little more of a relaxed attitude,” Verlander said. “And that doesn’t seem to be the case with these guys. From the leaders of this team, and that just permeates throughout the entire locker room and the whole organization.”
Altuve is the ultimate leader in the Astros’ clubhouse. Behind closed doors, the Little Giant is the one whose voice guides the two-time World Series champions.
Altuve is the longest tenured Astros on the roster. He has been a staple to the Astros’ camaraderie and winning culture. No matter who comes and goes, Altuve is praised for his leadership, his kindness and his will to win.
This is Altuve’s team, after all.
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