Some Houston Astros star players are struggling this season, and that has been reflected in reduced player ratings in a popular video game.
“MLB The Show 20” assigns players overall ratings for the game. Anyone who has an 85-or-higher rating receives a diamond; 80-84 is gold; 75-79 is silver; and bronze is 65-74.
Due to their poor starts to the 2020 season, both Jose Altuve and George Springer have dropped from diamond ratings to gold ones.
Altuve was the No. 1-ranked second baseman prior to the start of the season, and his 85 rating made him the only diamond-quality player at the position. With an 85 ranking, Springer also had diamond status. For context, Mike Trout received the highest overall rating at 95, and the next highest players were Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer at 92.
Springer has dropped to an 82 as of the most recent game update, while Altuve is an 81.
The ratings drops make sense given how the players have performed this year.
Springer is batting .189/.338/.377 this season. Altuve is batting .171/.244/.305 and has been dropped to the seventh spot in the team’s lineup. Some fans have a very good idea about the reason for the players’ struggles, though the solid play from Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley runs contrary to the popular theory.
Houston Astros stars Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were hit by pitches in consecutive at-bats during Tuesday’s scrimmage against the Kansas City Royals. Is that a sign of things to come this season? Maybe, but in this case it seems highly unlikely that it was intentional.
Altuve and Bregman were both hit by pitches from Royals right-hander Jorge Lopez in the second inning. The bases were loaded each time, and the pitches looked more like they simply got away from Lopez. See for yourself:
On one hand, you could say there is no better time to throw at Astros hitters than during a meaningless game with the bases loaded. The game doesn’t count, so giving up the runs isn’t costly. Plunking Altuve and Bregman with the bases loaded also removes some of the suspicion because, well, who would do that?
All that said, it just wouldn’t have made sense for Lopez to hit consecutive batters in that spot. The 27-year-old is coming off a rough season in which he compiled a 6.33 ERA in 39 appearances. His only focus should be proving to the Royals that he is worthy of a bullpen spot, not sending messages to Astros players because of their cheating scandal.
Carlos Correa offered an explanation last week for why Jose Altuve did not want his teammates tearing off his jersey after the second baseman belted a walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, and Altuve may have tried to provide further evidence on Monday.
Correa told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that Altuve did not want his jersey ripped off in celebration because Altuve had “an unfinished tattoo on his collarbone that honestly looked terrible.” Naturally, fans flocked to social media to see if they could find any photos of Altuve shirtless that would confirm or deny what Correa said. Then on Monday, Altuve walked around bare-chested in front of a group of reporters in the clubhouse. There was, indeed, a tattoo on his left collarbone.
Classic: Jose Altuve walks to locker, towel over shoulder. Big mob of reporters. He grabs some workout stuff, drops towel from shoulder, reveals tatioo, walks off as he’s pulling shirt over head without a word.
The tattoo says “Melanie,” which is Altuve’s 3-year-old daughter’s name, and has a heart. We still don’t know when Altuve got the tattoo or why it would have looked horrible at one point, but it seems like he was intentionally flashing the ink to reporters.
Those who are fully invested in this investigation pointed out that Altuve shared a photo on Instagram last July that showed him without a shirt on. That would have been a few months before the ALCS, and he did not have a tattoo at the time. The photo was captioned “Off Day,” and the Astros were off on July 29.
Picture from Altuve’s Instagram from July 2019. Was is a really bad temporary tattoo that Correa was talking about? pic.twitter.com/qFrmtAbf28
As expected, we really don’t have any answers. Altuve has a tattoo now. There’s no way of knowing when he got it, what it looked like unfinished, or if he was actually embarrassed to show it off. What we do know is that fans aren’t the only ones mocking the tattoo excuse.
Carlos Correa has decided to dig his heels in and defend the Houston Astros against some of the criticism they are facing, and former MLB star Adam Jones found one thing Correa said about the scandal particularly entertaining.
Jones, who now plays professionally in Japan, admitted in a tweet on Saturday that he has been watching the Astros cheating scandal unfold from a distance, but he couldn’t resist mocking Correa over the Houston shortstop’s explanation for why Jose Altuve did not want teammates ripping his jersey off. Correa said Altuve had an unfinished tattoo at the time that “looked terrible.”
Altuve was seen pleading with his teammates to not tear off his jersey in celebration after he hit a walk-off home run off of Aroldis Chapman in the ALCS last season. That led to speculation that Altuve may have been wearing a buzzer. Altuve’s explanation for why he didn’t want the jersey torn off only made him look more suspicious, and it’s strange that he wouldn’t have just admitted he had a tattoo he didn’t want people seeing.
Many Astros players have remained quiet while the media, fans and opponents criticize them, but Correa has been pretty aggressive in defending his team. We can assure you Jones isn’t the only one who found the tattoo excuse laughable.
Bellinger’s questions about the matter represent exactly why so many fans were concerned and outraged. Altuve’s behavior did not make much sense. And then when you see former Astros manager A.J. Hinch’s initial comments about the buzzers, it’s hard not to feel like the rumors were all true.
Jose Altuve was one of a number of Houston Astros players who apologized for the team’s sign-stealing scandal on Thursday, but one local news station in Los Angeles clearly is not ready to forgive the star infielder.
Altuve and Alex Bregman both issued very scripted apologies at the start of a press conference the Astros held. While showing the clip of Altuve’s apology on live TV, KTLA in Los Angeles ran a graphic at the bottom of the screen that described Altuve as “Astros Cheater.”
As some have pointed out, a Pittsburgh-area news station fired an employee who was responsible for labeling Tom Brady a “known cheater” in a TV graphic a year ago. It’s unclear if there will be any repercussions for whoever was responsible for the Altuve graphic.
The Astros, of course, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, so they don’t have many fans in the LA area. Dodgers supporters also probably did not appreciate what Houston owner Jim Crane had to say about the illegal sign-stealing impacting the outcome of games.
Major League Baseball has confirmed that the Astros cheated, so calling their players cheaters seems pretty fair.
The Houston Astros are suddenly sorry for cheating their way to a World Series title in 2017.
Astros owner Jim Crane said last month that he would get his players together at the start of spring training to apologize “with a strong statement as a team,” and apparently what happened on Thursday was his idea of that. As part of a cringeworthy scripted press conference, Astros stars Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve issued very brief statements expressing remorse for their roles in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal. They took no questions.
“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”
Crane also addressed the allegations that the Astros used electronic buzzers as part of their cheating. Like former manager AJ Hinch the day before, Crane said he does not believe that ever happened.
#Astros owner Jim Crane on buzzers: "The commissioner addressed that in the report. I'm confident it's accurate. I discussed it with the players. … I truly believe there were no buzzers. I don't even know where that came from."
The owner also said he does not feel he should be held accountable for the cheating scandal because “clearly the report states that I didn’t know about it.”
The Astros probably would have been better off not addressing the scandal and just moving on to 2020. Bregman already made his thoughts about the cheating clear with his comments last month, and they sounded nothing like the phony statement he gave on Thursday. Houston’s PR department successfully managed to make an ugly situation worse.
Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield made the first All-Star appearance of his career last year, but he feels it would have been the second had it not been for all of the cheating that went on in Houston.
Merrifield spoke openly about how disappointed he was when he was not selected to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game. Jose Altuve was one of the players who was voted in over Merrifield, and the Royals infielder did not hold back when asked about that this week in an interview with Dave O for Clubhouse Conversation.
Whit Merrifield on missing the 2018 ASG: "I'm going to consider myself an All-Star with all this stuff that's come out because Jose Altuve took my spot that game. So we'll put an asterisk by 2018 & on top of it, we'll go ahead and throw in a silver slugger for good measure."
Altuve made the All-Star Game every year from 2014-2018, and he also won the Silver Slugger Award in each of those seasons. Merrifield said he’s going to consider himself the Silver Slugger winner for 2018 in addition to an All-Star. Merrifield batted .302 last year with 16 home runs and 74 RBI. Altuve hit .298 with 31 homers and 74 RBI.
If that makes Merrifield feel better, more power to him. However, it’s worth noting that Major League Baseball determined the Astros were guilty of using electronics to steal signs during the 2017 season, but there has been no hard evidence that they did anything in 2018. There were allegations that Houston players took things to the next level last season, but they have already denied that.
Sabathia makes it clear that he thinks a good part of Houston’s success is attributed to sign stealing. Houston’s success — or how much of it the team has — will be a huge storyline worth watching in 2020.
An interview Ken Rosenthal conducted with Jose Altuve after the Houston Astros won the ALCS last season gained widespread attention on Thursday, but the reporter insists he did not suspect that Altuve was covering anything up when the two spoke amid a hectic celebration.
Altuve belted a walk-off home run off of New York Yankees flamethrower Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 of the ALCS, and he was seen making a conscious effort to keep his jersey closed and pleading with his teammates to not tear it off as he approached home plate. Rosenthal asked Altuve after the game about not wanting to have his jersey pulled off, and the infielder asked Rosenthal to repeat the question — the only time that interview he needed a question repeated — and then said his wife got upset last time his jersey was torn off.
After some rumors popped up about Astros players possibly wearing buzzers under their jerseys as part of their sign-stealing scheme, many looked back at the Altuve home run and interview and concluded he must have been hiding something. Rosenthal said Friday that he did not even see Altuve come to home plate, and the question the reporter asked is one that was fed to him by a FOX Sports producer in his ear piece.
All those asking if I “knew something” when I asked Altuve about refusing to allow teammates to rip off his jersey . . . hardly. In my rush to get onto the field, I did not even see Altuve cross home plate. Producer suggested question in my ear as I conducted the interview.
Rosenthal also noted that Major League Baseball investigated the possibility of Astros players using wearable devices and found no evidence of it happening. The league found no evidence of the Astros cheating in 2019 in general.
The way Altuve acted was unusual, if nothing else. In addition to fumbling a bit in the Rosenthal interview, he also went to a private area to change out of his jersey and into a championship T-shirt before celebrating with his teammates. Most Astros players did not leave the field.