Jose Altuve certifies superstar status with historic performance in ALDS Game 1

Bob Levey/Getty Images
9 Comments

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has a legitimate case to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award, which will be handed out after the postseason. He finished third in AL MVP Award balloting last year, has made five All-Star teams, won three Silver Sluggers, and won one Gold Glove.

One doesn’t necessarily need a breakout postseason performance to be classified among the game’s superstars, but it doesn’t hurt. Altuve hit three solo home runs in Thursday’s 8-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS, showing to a national audience what he is capable of doing.

It was just the 10th time since 1903 that a player homered three times in a postseason game. Babe Ruth did it twice in the World Series in 1926 and 1928. Bob Robertson did it in 1971, as did Reggie Jackson in 1977 and George Brett in 1978. In this millennium, that feat has been accomplished by Adam Kennedy in 2002, Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols in 2011, and Pablo Sandoval in 2012. Lots of legendary names in that list.

Altuve hadn’t had any postseason success to his ledger prior to Thursday’s action. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI against the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game in 2015, then went 3-for-5 with three singles and an RBI in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Royals. Between Games 2 and 5 of that ALDS, he went 0-for-17 with a walk. In total, that’s a .154 batting average with zero extra-base hits over 26 at-bats.

Altuve was already doing things few players had ever done. He’s one of only 12 players to accrue at least 1,200 hits and 200 stolen bases through his age-27 season. The only players who did that in the 2000’s were Edgar Renteria, Carl Crawford, and Elvis Andrus. Altuve has won three batting titles and has accrued 200-plus hits in each of his last four seasons. If you’re a diehard baseball fan, you’re already well aware of Altuve’s batting prowess and Hall of Fame potential. To everyone else, though, Thursday was Altuve’s coming out party. He’s officially on the map.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
Getty Images
2 Comments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.