I think it was two years ago when I first decided I wanted Jose Altuve on my team. My team is, of course, the Oakland A’s. At that point, the A’s were just beginning their rebuilding process and Altuve was hitting .313/.353/.459, a very good slash line. However, it was his hustle that inspired me to buy into the legend. That along with his . . . stature. As someone who is 5’7“, I’ve always rooted for the little guy. Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues, Messi, and of course the man with the”Hold my own" tattoo, Allen Iverson. These guys had the skills to overcome the size disadvantage. It seemed miraculous.
Today, two years later, we learned that Jose Altuve (sadly, never traded to the A’s like I hoped) won the American League MVP award. The runner up was this gentleman pictured next to him.
Altuve’s slash line was .346/.410/.547 in 2017. He hit 24 home runs and chipped in 81 RBIs and he helped his team, the Houston Astros, win their first ever World Series with some dramatic performances in the playoffs. Serious MVP numbers.
But what should inspire every undersized baseball player out there, is this:
Altuve is the shortest player in all of Major League Baseball.
The conventional wisdom says the best athletes tend to be the tallest and largest. Altuve bucks that trend, but he isn’t the only one. The same year I wished for an Altuve trade to the A’s, we saw an undersized point guard on the Golden State Warriors win the MVP award. In that same year we also saw a 5’7" striker win the the Ballon d’Or in Soccer.
I ran some scrapers online to capture player heights in the MLB, NBA, and across the top professional leagues in soccer. We’ve already seen that Altuve falls in the bottom 1% of his league’s height distribution. Let’s look at how the 2015 MVPs faired in their respective sports:
While not as dramatic as Altuve, given that we’re not expected to see shorter players be at the top of their game this is pretty amazing.
So congratulations to Jose Altuve and all the other vertically challenged folks who seem to be on top of their respective sports these days!