Jose Altuve, the Houston Astros’ 25-year-old second baseman, is coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history. He became the first Astros player to win a batting title, with an average of .341. He set a club record with 225 hits, which broke Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s record of 210. Altuve also led the Majors in multi-hit games, three-hit games, and led the American League with 56 stolen bases.
On and off the field, Altuve has become a role model for young baseball players. Kids are frequently discouraged from playing certain sports because of their size. Despite being 5’6”, Altuve never doubted his talents. It’s his mentality of working hard that has gotten him to where he is today.
“I always believed that I could make it,” says Altuve, who is from Maracay, Venezuela. “I always say that if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody is going to believe in you. A lot of people told me that I wouldn't make it, but every time they told me that, they encouraged me to show them that I could do it.”
While Altuve has become a star because of personal accolades, he has never in his career played for a winning team — until this year. In his fifth season in the majors, the Astros are in first place in the AL West. With a young core and a farm system loaded with top prospects, the Astros seem to have what it takes to be one of the best teams in baseball for a long time.
“Playing with the Astros when we were in last place, I kept working hard because I knew one day we would be in first place,” Altuve says. “In the clubhouse, all we talk about is winning. Outside, people are supporting us. We love winning games for the fans.”
Before a recent game against the Kansas City Royals — the only AL team that currently has a better winning percentage than Houston — Altuve sat down with SI Kids to talk about his teammates’ dance moves in the clubhouse, his go-to food in New York City, and his favorite downtime activity.
Tell me about Club Astros.
That’s something we do after winning games. We got some cool lights, a fog machine, and a disco ball in the clubhouse. It’s just us having fun after we win.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened in Club Astros so far?
Everything. Everybody starts dancing and shaking hands because everybody is very happy. The best part is the fact that everyone is so happy.
Who is the best dancer on the team?
[Outfielder] George Springer, no doubt. I don’t know his best move, but he can really move and shake.
Who has the most fun personality on the team?
Springer again. He’s such a great guy, he plays hard everyday, and he’s such a great teammate. He’s always there when you need him, and he’s always having fun.
Who do you sit with on the plane ride to an away game?
I sit next to Carlos Correa. We have almost like a seating chart. I sit on one aisle seat, and he’s on the other aisle seat right next to me. Every flight we sit together.
Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
No pregame rituals, no superstitions. I just go out and play.
What’s your favorite city to visit for a road game?
Los Angeles. The weather there is very good, the food is very good, there’s lots of things to do, and I love the stadium. Other than here in Houston, that’s my favorite stadium.
Why is Minute Maid Park in Houston your favorite?
It’s my home. I love playing at home. I really like it here. It’s a beautiful ballpark, and I feel very comfortable playing here.
What’s your favorite food at home?
Definitely rice and chicken.
What’s your must eat food on the road in a visiting city?
When I go to New York, I have to eat pizza. No particular place, they just have the best pizza and I have to eat it when I’m there.
Do you play MLB The Show 15? If so, who do you play as, and who’s the best at it on the team?
I play sometimes, and I always play as the Astros. The best at playing The Show I think is Springer. He’s good man.
What’s your favorite activity other than baseball?
I like to play Ping-Pong. I have a table at home, so I play all the time.
Would you rather have Texans defensive end J.J. Watt’s strength, or Rockets shooting guard James Harden’s shot?
J.J. Watt’s strength. He’s so strong, it would let me hit more homers!
For more on the Astros' great 2015 season, check out Kid Reporter J.J. Post's article about the rise of the team!
Photos: Jim Rogash/Getty Images (Altuve), Bob Levey/AP Photo (Astros), Brian Yancelson (dugout)