José Altuve of the Houston Astros has won this year’s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, sponsored by the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta presents the award annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the giving character of Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, a member of the Fraternity’s Columbia University chapter. The award was first presented in 1955 and is permanently maintained at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. A team of representatives from Phi Delta Theta will present the award to Altuve during the upcoming Major League Baseball season.
José is the third member of the Houston Astros to win the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Third baseman Buddy Bell won the award in 1988 and first baseman Glenn Davis won the award in 1990.
The 2016 season was an historic, record-setting campaign for José Altuve and one of the best in Major League history by a second-baseman. As a result, he received more awards and accolades than any other player in baseball in 2016.
ON THE FIELD:
In addition to winning his second batting title in three years with a .338 average, José was named the Sporting News Player of the Year, the MLBPA Major League Player of the Year and AL Most Outstanding Player, and won his third consecutive Silver Slugger Award. He also finished third in the voting for the BBWAA AL MVP Award, was an All-Star for the fourth time in his career and won AL Player of the Month honors for June.
In addition to winning the batting title, José also led the AL in hits (216), was tied for second in stolen bases (30), third in WAR (7.6), tied for third in doubles (42), fourth in on-base-pct. (.396) and total bases (340) and fifth in OPS (.928). He was also outstanding in the clutch, batting a sizzling .372 with runners in scoring position.
In 2016, José became the first second baseman in MLB history to reach the following milestones in a single season: 100 runs, 200 hits, 40 doubles, 20 home runs, 95 RBI, 30 stolen bases. He is just the fifth player overall in MLB history to reach those milestones in a season.
- Sporting News MLB Player of the Year (2nd Astros player ever to win this)
- MLBPA Major League Player of the Year
- MLBPA Most Outstanding Player (AL)
- Silver Slugger Award (3rd of his career)
- AL All-Star Starter (4th All-Star appearance)
- AL Player of the Month for June
- AL Batting Title (2nd in three seasons)
- Luis Aparicio Award winner as Venezuela’s top player
- Third in BBWAA AL MVP voting
Because of his size, José has had to overcome doubters throughout his career. At just five feet, five inches tall, he was not viewed as a prototypical professional athlete. When he showed up at his first Astros tryout camp in Venezuela at 16 years old, he was sent home and told not to return. However, because of his determination and belief in his ability, he returned the following day and performed well enough to earn a contract.
While in the minor leagues, José realized that he had to perform at a much higher level than his taller peers to earn his way up the ladder. That’s just what he did. In 2011, at just 20 years old, he hit .408 in 52 games in Single A to earn a promotion to Double A. After hitting .361 in 35 games at Double A, he earned his promotion to the Major Leagues on July 19 and has never looked back. By 2012, he would earn his first All-Star selection. Because of his success, José serves as an inspiration to many fans, both young and old, to not let height hinder aspirations for success. He relays this message often when speaking to kids.
OFF THE FIELD:
Throughout the season, José consistently makes time for fans. Prior to every game, home and road, he signs dozens of autographs during batting practice, chatting with fans while also posing for photographs. This is something he makes a point of doing every day.
José also participates enthusiastically in all of the Astros fan outreach efforts, including FanFest, Winter Caravan, Picnic in the Park, and the annual Charity Gala that raises dollars for the Astros Foundation. He is also a leader in the clubhouse among his teammates and has developed an outstanding reputation with the media, making himself available before and after games in good times and in challenging times.
In December, José joined former Astros outfielder José Cruz and several other MLB players in taking part in the “Peloteros por Puerto Rico” (Players for Puerto Rico) tour, which was organized by MLB and the MLB Players Association. The tour, which honored the legend and life of Roberto Clemente, included several youth clinics in multiple cities.
MAKING AN IMPRESSION:
“He’s the epitome of everything that’s right about the Astros. He’s a great example, he’s a hard worker, he will play selflessly and never take any of the credit, and will want all the blame. He’s a great example for all of our players on how to be excellent, and I think this season showed what kind of impact he’s had with the caliber of awards he has received.”
– Astros Manager AJ Hinch
“I’ve been in baseball for virtually my entire life, and José Altuve is as fine a young man as I have ever been around. He is an outstanding player on the field and an outstanding person off of it. He is gracious, is a leader, makes time for the fans and does everything we ask of him and more. We are so very fortunate to have José as one of the faces of our organization.”
– President of Business Operations Reid Ryan
“It has been extremely gratifying watching José Altuve develop into an elite player. He has special talent, but the main reason for his success is his desire and work ethic, which are second to none. No matter how much success he has, he constantly wants to get better. He has tremendous drive and has earned a great deal of admiration from both his teammates and from our fans. He truly is an inspirational young man.”
– General Manager Je Luhnow
At just 26 years old, José has etched his name in the Astros record books in several categories. In 2014, he tallied a club record 225 hits en route to his first batting title. The only other Astros player to reach 200 hits in a season was Hall of Famer Craig Biggio with 210 in 1998. Altuve has now reached 200 hits in three straight seasons (2014-16), becoming the 5th second baseman in history to accomplish this feat. The other four are Hall of Famers. Also in 2014, José became just the second player since 1945 to lead his league in batting, hits and steals in the same season.
On August 17 of last season, he became the fastest player in franchise history to reach 1,000 hits (786 games). Additionally, at 26 years and 102 days old, he reached the 1,000-hit milestone faster than all but eight of the 30 members of the current 3,000-hit club. José also owns several records for a Venezuelan-born player and is a two-time winner of the Luis Aparicio Award (2014, 2016) given to that country’s top Major League player.
In spirit of the “Iron Horse,” José has been an extremely durable performer for the Astros. His 625 games played since 2013 rank 2nd in the AL among second basemen and 7th overall. In that span, he leads all AL players in hits (818), doubles (160) and stolen bases (159). José had a Major League-best streak of 202 straight games played before being given a day off by manager AJ Hinch in August of last season.