Altuve striving for perfection after MVP, WS
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- One by one, Jose Altuve's teammates were asked about his impact on the Astros, prompting glowing responses from every corner of the clubhouse. It's easy to measure Altuve's influence by looking at his gaudy numbers, but his importance is better defined by what his peers think about him.
While pitchers and catchers had been working out for five days and many of the Astros' top position players had been in camp, it wasn't until the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner strolled into the clubhouse on Monday morning did you get the sense Houston's spring had commenced in earnest.
"Being the MVP last year, it's something I'm never going to forget," Altuve said prior to the first full-squad workout. "For that, I've got to thank my teammates. They are the ones that play hard every day. ... I think they do all the heavy jobs and I just support them, and I'm one more player here in this clubhouse that wants to go out and win."
The Astros are loaded with talent, but Altuve is anything but just one more player. He has grown into a team leader who leads much more by actions than words. His work ethic and drive to continue to improve haven't appeared to diminish entering his eighth season.
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"It's never enough for him," said Marwin Gonzalez, who has been teammates with Altuve since 2012. "It doesn't matter how good he does, it's never enough for him. That's the mentality you have to follow. Obviously, he's my best friend and I try to follow him."
George Springer, the high-flying 2017 World Series MVP, said Altuve is the unequivocal leader -- whether he likes it or not.
"He's the only guy I've met that's unhappy with a 4-for-5 day," Springer said. "It just shows who he is. I did text him this offseason to let him know it's an honor to be his teammate. I love it."
Altuve, 27, won his third batting last year by hitting .346 with a league-leading 204 hits. He also cranked 24 homers, drove in 81 runs and swiped 32 bases -- reaching 30 steals for the sixth consecutive year. He was a runaway winner for MVP.
Still, Altuve said Monday he has plenty of goals remaining.
"Something that I really want to do is be consistent," Altuve said. "You see Michael Trout and how good he is for many years, Robinson Cano putting some really good seasons in a row. That's kind of like the player I want to be. I want to be consistent because that way I can help my team for not only one or two years, but I can help my team for many years."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said it's always easy to talk about what he does well, but Altuve's not perfect. He wants to work on his baserunning and his defense at second base.
"Very minor things in the scheme of things, but things that can make him more of an effective player," Hinch said. "You're always inching towards perfection."
In a sense, perfection will always elude Altuve because he'll never be satisfied. Not even after winning a World Series.
"We have a bright future in front of us and I think we can go out there and win one more World Series, two more, three more, who knows?" Altuve said. "I just want to go out there and play hard."