Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve stands just five feet, six inches tall. He tips the scales at 165 pounds, soaking wet. But his impact on Major League Baseball games, namely postseason contests since 2017, cannot be overstated. He packs a wallop with his bat and his presence in the Astros starting lineup strikes fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. Just ask New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.
When the 6’ 4” southpaw replaced Zack Britton in the bottom of the ninth inning in Saturday’s Game 6 of the ALCS, the score was tied 4-4. He had three Astros to dispose of to force extra innings: Martin Maldonado, Josh Reddick and George Springer. The first two went in order. Springer, however, drew a walk on five pitches. That opened the door for Altuve to step up to the plate. And that’s when destiny arrived. Again.
On the fourth offering from Chapman, Altuve ripped a mighty swing and deposited the pitch high off the left-center-field wall at Minute Maid Park for a series-clinching, walk-off home run. The Astros were moving on to their second World Series in three years and the Yankees were left shaking their heads. Credit that to Houston’s “Little Big Man,” the same spark plug who earned A.L. MVP honors in 2017. His resume, which includes six All-Star Game appearances, is impressive, and his continued ascent in hobby circles has been remarkable.
Thanks to a .315 career batting average and three A.L. batting titles since 2014, Altuve has caught the attention of collectors. His most sought-after rookie card debuted inside 2011 Topps Update (#US132). Though various parallels were produced including Gold (/2011), Black (/60) and Diamond Anniversary levels, it’s his Target Red Border variation that’s stirring the most attention. It may never have the same drawing power as perennial A.L. MVP front-runner Mike Trout’s, but Altuve’s card has seen significant movement based on his clutch play for a consistently contending team. In just the past year, Altuve’s Target Red Border offering – in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition – has sold at auction for $1,375 all the way up to $2,600.
Beyond his cardboard, Altuve’s signature has also seen a steady rise in value. The 29-year-old’s autograph on a baseball, for instance, is considered a treasured piece of memorabilia nowadays. On the retail level it sells for anywhere between $250 and $300, while one can sell for even more at auction, especially if it’s game-used. For example, the signed, game-used and cracked Altuve pro model Tucci black bat shown below sold for more than $1,000 through Heritage Auctions in 2015.
Demand for his signature has multiplied exponentially based on his crowd-pleasing performances throughout the regular and post seasons. His steady bat over the past six seasons (.341, .313, .338, .346 .315, and .298, respectively) has turned suspect fans into true believers. Whether or not the Astros secure their second World Series championship this year remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Altuve’s popularity in the collectibles realm is reaching greater heights.