It’s time that announcers stopped going on and on about how remarkable it is that Jose Altuve can compete in Major League Baseball standing only 5-foot-6.
True, Altuve is one of the 15 shortest players to make the big leagues. But let’s look at some other players standing 5-foot-6 and under.
- Wee Willie Keeler: 5-foot-4; lifetime batting average, .342; Hall of Fame.
- Rabbit Maranville: 5-foot-5; played 23 years in the Majors; Hall of Fame.
- Hack Wilson: 5-foot-6; Most Valuable Player; holds Major League record for RBI’s in one season; Hall of Fame.
- Phil Rizzuto: 5-foot-6; the “Scooter” played 13 years; 10 AL pennants; seven World Series titles; MVP; Hall of Fame.
- Joe Sewell: 5-foot-6; batted .312; Hall of Fame.
- Billy Hamilton: 5-foot-6; record for runs scored in one season; third all-time stolen bases; Hall of Fame.
In about 15 years, we’ll be adding Altuve to this long list of short Hall of Famers
And then there’s Eddie Gaedel, 3-foot-7, who was sent to bat one time as a publicity stunt by the struggling St. Louis Browns. Gaedel walked, and never played another game, which means his lifetime on-base percentage is a perfect 1.000, highest in history. The oddest thing about Gaedel’s story is, after his one plate appearance, American League president Will Harridge voided Gaedel’s contract and banned Little People from baseball. I wonder how baseball would handle a similar situation today.
Yes, it is amazing what Altuve is accomplishing in baseball, but his height really isn’t a factor. Altuve is simply a dedicated, supremely gifted athlete with incredible baseball skills. If anything, being 5-foot-6 might give Altuve an advantage — smaller strike zone, pitchers overly concerned about not walking him, etc.
Actually, it’s extremely tall players who have a disadvantage, bigger strike zone, longer batting stroke, etc. No player 6-foot-6 or taller has ever won a batting title.
Remember, in 2017, Altuve, the shortest player, and 6-foot-7 Aaron Judge, one of the tallest players, finished 1-2 in balloting for American League MVP.
Altuve was the 1.