AL WestAnalysis

Houston Replaced Altuve with Altuve?

When Jose Altuve fractured his hand, it left the Astros’ star-studded lineup with a hole at the top of it. So, they went back in time to replace Altuve with his younger self: Mauricio Dubon.

Hyperbolic to call Mauricio Dubon a young Altuve? Absolutely, but squint hard enough and it isn’t hard to see that the 28-year-old second baseman has become a similar version.

Swing Batter Batter

Firstly, Dubon is going to swing the bat. Since 2015, Dubon is just one of six players to have a swing rate over 60%. Conversely, Altuve’s career high of 51.7% in 2015 can’t sniff Dubon’s aggressiveness. Meanwhile, their contact rates inside and outside the strikeout zone are eerily similar.

PlayerDubon 2023Altuve 2015
In Zone Contact Rate90.2%92.9%
Out of Zone Contact Rate79.2%79.2%

Ground N’ Not Pound

Now that we’ve established the two as prolific contact hitters, we need to determine the type of contact being made. Dubon has roped off a hit in 17 straight games thanks to a barrage of weakly hit groundballs through the opposite side. Through 18 games, 53.4% of Dubon’s batted balls have been on the ground, a whopping 11% higher than his career average. This uptick comes in a season where the shift was banned leaguewide to raise the average BABIP. While grounders don’t automatically put runs on the board, it leads to the highest batting average, and it’s hard to argue with Dubon’s .329. Altuve operated similarly in his younger days, posting a 48.8% groundball rate through his first five years. Altuve, however, preferred to pull the ball or lace it back up the middle. Dubon is as unpredictable as they come, with over 75% of his batted balls going straight away or to the opposite field. Once again, this is a stark difference from his career norm, with his pull percentage down nearly 11 points from his career average.

PlayerDubon 2023Altuve 2015
Avg. Exit Velocity (MPH)86.986.1
Launch Angle (degrees)4.711.2
Hard Hit Rate31.5%28.6%

No K Today

Whenever a batter steps up the plate, three outcomes can emerge: strikeout, walk/hit by pitch, or the ball is put into play. With Dubon, the outcome goes down to one. Despite swinging the bat more than any other hitter, Dubon holds a 5.0% strikeout rate which is the second lowest in the league. His aggressiveness at the plate also leads to a small number of walks, having the sixth-lowest walk rate at 2.5%. Similarly, from 2014-16 when Altuve hit over 200 hits in each season and held a batting average of .331, his strikeout and walk numbers were among the lowest in the league. Neither category touched double digits, leading to constant action on the field. Dubon’s bat-to-ball skills are second to none, recording an 11.5% whiff rate, the league’s fourth lowest. Although the three with a lower mark swing the bat far less. Overall Dubon ranks top 15 in the fewest swing and misses inside and outside the zone.

PlayerDubon 2023Altuve 2015
BB Rate2.5%4.8%
K Rate5.0%9.7%
Whiff Rate11.5%11.2%

The younger clone of Altuve or not, Dubon has been a monumental piece at the top of the Astros’ order. While the former MVP recovers, the former 26th-rounder has filled in admirably with a style that isn’t often seen in 2023.

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Featured Image: @astros / Twitter

Logan Farlow

University of Houston Journalism student who loves baseball and writes about the hometown Astros and whatever else catches his eye.

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