Jose Altuve to be held out of season finale with league-leading .340 batting average

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UPDATE, 12:38 p.m. ET: Scratch that. Altuve has now been added to the starting lineup for Sunday’s game.

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks it down:

Jose Altuve is starting the day on the bench with the Astros’ first batting title riding on the line.

With 157 games played already and an 0-for-4 performance on Saturday, Altuve appears to be banking that the Detroit Tigers’ Victor Martinez won’t have the multi-hit day needed to catch him.

Altuve boasts a .340 batting average in 656 at-bats this season. Martinez sits at .337 through 558 at-bats.

V-Mart needs to go 3-for-3 (or 4-for-4) on Sunday against the Twins to catch Altuve. The Tigers would take that, as they’re trying to fend off the Royals and wrap up their fourth straight American League Central championship. A loss by Detroit and a win by Kansas City would set up a Game 163 tiebreaker.

Altuve made it known to reporters Sunday morning that this was not his decision. The call was made by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and interim manager Tom Lawless. “I wanted to play,” Altuve said. “It wasn’t up to me.” Altuve was told he would sit in a meeting with Luhnow, Lawless, and “three other people I don’t know.”

MORE FROM HARDBALLTALK: Jose Altuve has the most hits by a second baseman in 78 years

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).