Baseball is a sport where the brash, powerful and athletic rule the roost. It may not have the physicality of football, but every other intangible physical detail is as important as the stats which seem to define every player’s worth in this day and age.
How then can someone as diminutive as José Altuve even command a place on a roster, let alone All-Star status? Altuve is, of course, the smallest active MLB player since Freddie Patek retired following the 1981 season. The answer is obvious, Altuve is a freak. A freak that stands alone in a new era where everything is not in his favor. The events of this season only add to this unlikely but thoroughly likable career.
Outside of a person holding a degree in medicine or sports science, not many truly know what a meniscus is, where it is, or even what the effect of a meniscus tear is. It may not have the severity of an anterior cruciate ligament tear, yet it still has the potential to derail even the fittest person for an extended period. Playing through such an injury would be a severe miscalculation, and the potential long-term effects may be devastating or even end a career. Anyone doing so would be indulging in madness. Thus, it seems only fitting that Altuve, the freak of nature that he is would choose to play on and indulge in madness.
Altuve’s injury on the 29th of July should have ended his season. Surely the reigning MVP in any sport would recognize his value and protect his future. This stereotype, though, is not Altuve. In addition to his MVP award from 2017, he also received the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award. The award was jointly given along with J. J. Watt for their efforts in aiding in the recovery of the Greater Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. These events demonstrate that although Altuve is a professional sportsman first, he is emphatically a server of the community also.
Moving back to the injury, from the end of July onwards Altuve continued playing while enduring his torn meniscus as the Astros’ designated hitter. His stats that season read: in 137 games, Altuve finished with a .316 average, 13 home runs, and 61 RBI. Such stats may not match up with his teammates Carlos Correa or Alex Bregman. However, I don’t believe either of these players suffered through a season-ending injury for fifty-five regular season and eight postseason games. Call it stupid or foolish, but Altuve did that, and he was still given awarded his fifth-consecutive Silver Slugger as a second baseman.
What’s more, the actual severity of the injury showed in that the day after the Astros’ exit from the postseason, at the hands of the Red Sox, Altuve had complex arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the tear. It was clear that Altuve had been playing through a hell of an injury just for the dream of securing a second and consecutive World Series title. Altuve was playing for no one, but for his team, the fans and above all, everyone who sees the man who never should have made it to the MLB as their role-model. Is a general idea becoming clear yet?
It has been clearly outlined above that José Altuve is a freak, one that nature cannot explain. He is the pillar of an entire city’s community in the worst of natural disasters, acts as the role-model for anyone who was told they could not do something for an innate physical trait but above all, his recent injury and continual defiance to play out just shows his character, drive and sheer determination to succeed. Recovery may be a long process for him, yet in spite of that, no one should bet against this man to continue being the freak of nature that he has been for seven seasons now.