With Jose Altuve Out with a Fractured Thumb, How Can the Astros Replace Him?
Another WBC injury to talk about.
The Houston Astros were dealt a major blow on March 18, when star infielder Jose Altuve left the USA/Venezuela game after being hit by a pitch on his right hand. Altuve sustained a fractured thumb, an injury that will keep him on the shelf for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Here’s a look at how the Astros can adjust to start the 2023 season.
Related: How the Twins Can Adjust with Jorge Polanco Expected to Miss the Start of 2023
A Look at Altuve
Just days after Mets closer Edwin Diaz‘s season ended in Miami, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve will now miss significant time due to a fractured thumb. It came in Team Venezuela’s quarterfinal matchup against the USA, a game that Venezuela ultimately lost, when Altuve was hit by a pitch from Rockies reliever Daniel Bard.
Altuve had yet another strong season for the Astros in 2022. The 32-year-old — who we ranked as the best second baseman in MLB entering the 2023 season — hit .300/.387/.533 with 28 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 103 runs scored. Since the start of the 2011 campaign, no player in the Majors has more cumulative hits (1,935) than Altuve.
The Astros have stated that Altuve will have surgery on the thumb and that there is no timetable for his return. However, early reports indicate that he may miss an estimated 10-12 weeks.
What it Means
The loss of Altuve is a tough one for the Astros. Even though Houston is the defending World Series champions, the Astros will be in a tough fight for the AL West crown this season. The Mariners look poised to make a run at the top, while both Texas and Los Angeles bolstered their rosters this past offseason.
No one on the Astros can replace the impact of Altuve. But, how can the Astros adjust? First, let’s take a look at the Astros lineup. The 32-year-old spent the vast majority of the year in the leadoff spot, not much of a shock given his hitting prowess and ability to get on base. With Altuve out, it wouldn’t be much of shock if Chas McCormick saw time batting first for the Astros. The 27-year-old posted a .332 OBP last season, and did see 45 PA in the leadoff slot in 2022. There, McCormick, hit .317/.356/.537 with a home run, four RBIs, and six extra base hits.
As far as figuring out a temporary replacement at second, Houston does have INF/OF Mauricio Dubon, as well as infielders David Hensley and Rylan Bannon as available options.