Baseball has long been a sport for persons of slightly above average height. Through the decades, the average height of a player has increased from about 5’10” (in the 1900s) to just under 6’2″ (in the 2000s).
So when a “vertical outlier” comes upon the scene, he tends to draw a bit more attention. Such is the case with Houston Astros 2B prospect Jose Altuve. The 21-year-old Venezuelan is generously listed at 5’7″, but those who have met him in person peg him at 5’5″, and he himself has stated he is 5’6″.
Now, Baseball Prospectus is the only reason I know of Altuve. He was the “official prospect” of the Up and In podcast (hosted by Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks). Goldstein openly rooted for Altuve. In late 2010, Goldstein suggested he was 5’3″, and that his “NBA height” was 5’5″. Listeners got frequent updates on his progress from Low-A High-A to Double-A over the last year.
All hell broke loose on the Baseball Prospectus site and the podcast Facebook page Tuesday night when the news broke that Altuve was being promoted all the way to the big leagues, and would be starting for the Astros Wednesday afternoon. It was like our kid had gone off to college.
But its not going to be easy for Altuve. There have been a mere 20 players at 5’6″ or under in the majors since 1950, and of the non-pitchers, only nine of them appeared in 100 or more games in their career:
Nonetheless, I’d like to encourage all of you to check this “dynamo” out tomorrow afternoon, and join me in rooting for Jose Altuve to stick with the Astros for a good, long time.