All Jose Altuve did was take his improbable 2015 season to the next level with an amazing 2016 season. In the AL Tout Wars auction last March, he went for a stunning $43, but in the end, he earned every bit of it as a five-category stud. Altuve improved his walk rate to a career-high 8.4 percent (from 4.8 percent in 2015) and, following suit with the rest of the league, hit for more power. A new power baseline for Altuve is tough to figure out, but his ISO and hard-hit rate progression in recent years suggests 15-20 homers annually is reasonable. Still just 26, he has played nearly every game over the past five seasons and rarely gets himself out. Even when he does chase pitches out of the strike zone, he still makes enough contact to put the ball safely into play and uses his speed to turn outs into hits. Altuve has reached 30 steals in five straight seasons and with a powerful lineup around him, he is an easy top-10 pick for 2017.
Altuve will participate in the World Baseball Classic for Team Venezuela. There should be no concerns about Altuve's durability to handle the added load of the WBC, as the four-time All-Star has averaged 154 games played over the previous five seasons. The 26-year-old second baseman will be making his World Baseball Classic debut. A two-time American League batting champion, Altuve last year hit .338 with a league-leading 216 hits, while posting 108 runs, 42 doubles, 24 homers, 96 RBIs, 60 walks, 30 stolen bases, and a career-high .928 OPS.
Altuve (oblique) is back in the lineup for Friday's game against the Mariners, batting third and playing second base Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. This is extremely encouraging for Altuve to get back into the lineup Friday after leaving Wednesday's game with dreaded oblique discomfort. He'll bat in his usual spot and start at the keystone with the Astros facing ace Felix Hernandez.
Altuve left Wednesday's game with right oblique discomfort. Altuve was lifted after the fourth inning with Tyler White coming into the game at first base, pushing Marwin Gonzalez to second. After doubling in the first inning, Altuve was thrown out trying to steal third base. The Astros are off Thursday before they open a three-game set in Seattle on Friday.
Altuve hit a solo home run in a 3-for-4 game in Tuesday's loss to Texas. Altuve was off to a slow start in September, with just a .178/.245/.267 batting line and one home run in 11 games. His effort wasn't enough to bring a win to Houston on Tuesday, but if the Astros are going to compete for a playoff spot, they'll need more games like this from Altuve. This marks Altuve's 21st three-hit game of the season, a remarkable feat from one of the American League's foremost MVP candidates.
Altuve (illness) told manager A.J. Hinch that he will be fine to play Sunday, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. Altuve was able to play seven-plus innings Saturday despite reportedly getting sick before and during the game, finishing 1-for-3 with a run scored. It sounds like he's confident he'll be able to tough it out through any lingering affects of the illness Sunday but Hinch will have the final say.