Little Altuve Tall in the Saddle

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:

Player Debut Ht G Pos
Danny Herrera 2008 66 115 *1
David Eckstein 2001 66 1311 *64/D
Donnie Sadler 1998 66 418 4/65879D
Chad Fonville 1995 66 226 /46785D
Richie Lewis 1992 66 217 *1
Rafael Belliard 1982 66 1154 *64/5
Onix Concepcion 1980 66 390 *6/45D
Al Montreuil 1972 65 5 /*4
Freddie Patek 1968 65 1650 *6/459D7
Walt Williams 1964 66 842 97/D845
Albie Pearson 1958 65 988 *89/7
Fritz Brickell 1958 65 41 /*64
Richie Myers 1956 66 4
Ernie Oravetz 1955 64 188 /978
Don Plarski 1955 66 8 /*8
Yo-Yo Davalillo 1953 63 19 /*6
Clem Koshorek 1952 64 99 /654
Connie Marrero 1950 65 118 *1
George Genovese 1950 66 3
Carlos Pascual 1950 66 2 /*1
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/19/2011.

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.

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