A major injury to Jose Altuve, Houston Astros star second baseman, is a significant blow to the team. A fractured thumb is not the kind of major season-ending issue that would impact the Houston Astros, but it will have an immediate impact on how the team prepares for spring training and how they replace Altuve at second base.
Hand injuries are tricky for hitters to deal with and can result in long recovery times, particularly with an injury like Altuve’s. The scouting report that USA Today’s Bob Nightengale published Sunday estimated that Altuve will likely miss eight to 10 weeks with the injury, though it could be shorter or longer.
The hand issue is a devastating loss for the Astros, who have one of baseball’s best hitters at second base and are looking to rebuild around the position with the addition of Jeremy Pena in 2022. The loss of Altuve robs the Astros of their most versatile hitter and puts the club in a tough spot with regards to determining who will bat leadoff or how they will use David Hensley, Mauricio Dubon, or the rest of their roster.
With a broken thumb, the timetable for recovery will be based on how quickly Altuve heals and whether he can handle an active lifestyle without being limited. In some cases, hand injuries can be repaired and a player can return to play in as little as six weeks.
He can also be out for a lengthy period of time with an infected hand or a broken wrist. That can result in an extended absence for the hitter, which is a big loss to the team.
While this injury is a major setback for the Astros, it’s not something that will significantly affect their chances to make the World Series in 2022. Despite his loss, Altuve remains one of the top hitters in the game and has a realistic shot at becoming the last player to reach 3,000 hits.
After suffering a hamstring injury in the first month of this season, the three-time AL batting champion came back strong and has hit.315 with 13 home runs and 61 RBI in 23 games since the start of June. His slash line is right back up with his career averages and his wRC+ is 134, which is just one point below his best mark.
Getting back to the level of production that Altuve had at the beginning of this season was a huge challenge, but he’s made it work. He’s currently the leading hitter in MLB with 27 extra-base hits, including 14 homers.
The fact that he’s been on the disabled list this year only added to the challenges for Altuve. He missed 21 games during the final two months of the regular season, but he played through the pain and finished the year playing in all but three games.
He has become the best hitter in baseball and is a major reason why the Astros have won two World Series titles, a record that’s still being held by the Chicago Cubs. He’s now one of only five players with 3,000 hits and the other four are all from the Cubs. He’s a great player, and his presence on the field is something that can’t be replaced.