Side Note: Why do teams keep giving Darin Erstad a job? He is a terrible human being.
While the 2012 baseball season is nearing its end, next year's season is already looking to offer some type of hope for the short male population of the world. Hope that even men, such as myself, who stand at 5'9" (on a good day) can make it to the big leagues.
Now days, when people ask me who my idol/favorite baseball player is, I immediatly scream "JOSE ALTUVE DUH. IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE. HE IS THE BEST!" After a few minutes explaining that yes, he is a real player and no the Astros are not a Triple A team, little by little, people are starting to realize that you don't have to be genetically gifted to be a professional baseball player. All you really need is speed, a good batter's eye, and a hell of a lot of determination/good luck.
No, but really, a lot of determination. Front office's hate short baseball players.
Altuve played in the minors for five seasons where he never hit below .300 (minor career .327) and stole 117 bases. Eaton started late in the Arizona farm system at the age of 21 where he then played for three seasons amassing a .355 BA and 98 stolen bases. Why did it take their respective teams so long to give these guys a chance? Hatred against short baseball players. While some of Eaton's stats came in the hitter friendly PCL, there should have been no doubt that these numbers would carry over.
Over the course of 2012, Altuve has exceeded expectations in Houston (they still have a team?). Batting .291 with 31 stolen bases over his first 138 games, no one can say that it is remotely his fault for the Astros being the worst team ever assembled. But this doesn't mean that Altuve has had it easy during his second full season. While he stands a mere 5' 6", even his former manager acknowledges that Altuve has a long road ahead of him. "You've got to have skills," Mills said. "And be driven, have a big heart, and determination. That's what I think he probably has." Well said Brad Mills. Probably, being the key word in that sentence.
No one believes in him.
"Tell Pedroia that he is no longer the shortest player in the league," Mills joked with Terry Francona.
Probably why neither of them have jobs at the moment.
“Everywhere I go, people talk about my size,” Altuve said. “I’m OK with that. I just want to show everybody short guys can play in the minor leagues and the big leagues.”
I know Jose, I know...
Eaton on the other hand, just joined the Diamondbacks last month and has put on a show ever since. While he is only batting .260 over his first 13 games, it has been his defense and speed at the top of the lineup that has impressed those who care to watch short people play baseball. While announcers still tend to use descriptive words such as "pesky", "gritty", and "a really short ball player" to describe his play, Eaton refuses to let it get him down.
"When you see those guys pitch after pitch and you get a little more consistent with that, I feel like those at-bats will come more readily than they have. Even if I am only 5' 8"," Eaton may have said in a recent interview.
As both players struggle to battle the preconceived notions around baseball that bigger is always better, please let us remember the following players for how terrible they were:
I am so glad that I'm not a tall Major League Baseball player. We're Back.
"I'd rather be the shortest player in the Majors than the tallest player in the minors." - Freddie Patek in The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball (1999)