For the Houston Astros, the American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners produced good news and bad news. The good news was obvious — Houston won the series. The bad news, though, is just about as obvious. José Altuve is off his game — badly.
When Altuve came to the plate in the ninth inning with two outs and two on, he was already 0-for-12 for the series with four strikeouts. But with one good swing, Altuve could have put the Astros ahead and sent them to the ALCS, offsetting much of the earlier struggles. Instead, he was completely overmatched by Seattle reliever, Matt Brash. Brash threw three breaking balls out of the strike zone. Altuve offered at all three of them, missing badly each time.
Jose Altuve with one of the worst plate appearances you'll ever see. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/t0sYyp2xYC
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 15, 2022
Things didn’t get a lot better from there. Altuve struck out again when he came up in the 12th inning, his sixth of the series. He made contact in the 15th and 17th innings at-bats but flew out both times.
For the ALDS, Altuve went 0-for-16 with only one walk. Worse, Altuve struck out six times in those 16 at-bats. This is a guy who has led Major League Baseball in hits two times and the American League four times. He’s also won MLB’s batting title three times and the AL batting crown twice. Furthermore, while six strikeouts in three games may not seem like a huge deal in modern baseball, that’s two a game. Altuve has never struck out more than 91 times in a season.
Altuve’s ongoing struggles were heavily noticed by people watching the game.
— kennedi landry (@kennlandry) October 16, 2022
Altuve is so out of sorts that I looked up and mistook a terrible McCormick swing for one of his.
— Jerome Solomon (@JeromeSolomon) October 16, 2022
José Altuve's swings today 😬
No other batter in the entire pitch tracking era (2008-now) has swung at more pitches out of the zone in one postseason game. pic.twitter.com/pROegcPWp1
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) October 16, 2022
Before today's game Dusty said he thought Altuve's timing was a "little off" since the long break after the end of the regular season and it seems like nothing has improved. https://t.co/loKxEwhydO
— Matt Musil (@KHOUSportsMatt) October 16, 2022
Jose Altuve, completely and utterly out of whack. pic.twitter.com/Xmpb8SjhxY
— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) October 16, 2022
Obviously, Altuve’s struggles didn’t cost the Astros even one game against the Mariners. But if Houston is looking to get back to the World Series and win it, Altuve will need to quickly get out of this slump.