photo from Houston Chronicle: Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) is picked up at home plate after hitting a game-winning, two-run, walk-off home run to win Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in the ninth. Altuve, a 5-foot-6 sparkplug touted as Houston’s heart and soul, didn’t let this one get away.
By Amaury Pi-González
Within seconds of José Altuve’s walk off home-run from Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning of Game 6, which sent the Astros to their second World Series in the last three years, Yankee fans’ hope of winning their 28th World Series banished into the heavy Texas night.
A ‘high and outside’ slider might have been a ball, not a strike if he didn’t swing. But Altuve is one of the best bad ball hitters in baseball. He has not won three batting titles by walking. He comes to the plate looking to hack, most of the time.
This ability to hit pitches that are not strikes is also attributed to some great Hall of Fame players like Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente, Vladimir Guerrero as well as future member of the Hall of Fame, Adrian Beltré and Albert Pujols and others. Without going that far back in history among great bad ball hitters, the Astros’ current first baseman Yuliesky (Yuli) Gurriel fits that category. Pitchers who know best will tell you the Cuban-born first baseman is one of the toughest outs.
You can analyze all you want about “discipline at the plate,” which is taught in baseball since Little League. I mean, no coach when you are 12 years old tells you to hit a pitch that is ‘head high,” or bouncing two feet before the plate.
These guys are basically born with that ‘God given talent.” You cannot teach these types of guys plate discipline because they just see the ball and hit the ball, regardless where the ball is. They are abundant in talent, talent to hit pitches that many others can only dream of hitting.
These quotes below are courtesy of the Houston Astros Productions.
José Altuve speaking about his faith as a Christian.
“Faith has always been something very important to me and to my family.”
“When my brother and I were growing up, our parents always reminded us to give thanks to God.”
“When we go on a road-trip and I am not with my family, the Bible has always been helpful to me as a Christian. It is like I am born like that, just like being hungry, it is to me to open and read the Bible.”
“Many other players are friends who also are Christians and share the same experiences with me like Robinson Chirinos and Albert Pujols.”
“Nobody tells me what to do, it is a call I have to read the Bible.”
“My favorite verse of the Bible is John: 14.6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In 2017, after the Astros defeated the Dodgers to win the World Series, Altuve — one of the smallest men in baseball, but one of the biggest talents — was as humble as ever as he said: “I give all the glory to God.”
All of Altuve’s 5’6″ and 165 pounds will be at second-base for the Astros when they face the National League Champion, Washington Nationals, in the 115th edition of the World Series.
Tuesday, October 22
FOX National TV (Bay Area KTVU CH 2)
Time: 8:08 ET
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Pitchers: Nationals TBD
Astros: Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA)
Amaury Pi-González is a pioneer in establishing Spanish Major League Baseball broadcast in the Bay Area since the mid-1970’s with the Oakland A’s. Also, most recently, the Spanish voice of San Jose Sharks hockey and one of the most recognizable voices in multiple sports in Spanish in the country. Pi-González is a longtime contributor to this site.