Ethics Hero: American League Batting Champion Jose Altuve

Altuve

There was another baseball Ethics Hero who emerged on the last day of the regular season yesterday. File it under “Sportsmanship.”

Houston Astros secondbaseman  Jose Altuve (at less than 5′ 5″, the shortest athlete in a major professional sport) began the day hitting .340, three points ahead of the Tigers’ Victor Martinez, who was at .337. Even with all the new stats and metrics showing that batting average alone is not the best measure of a baseball player’s offensive value, a league batting championship remains the most prestigious of individual titles, putting a player in the record books with the likes of Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, George Brett, Ichiro Suzuki and Tony Gwynn. It’s still a big deal. If Altuve didn’t play in Houston’s meaningless last game, Martinez would have to go 3-for-3 to pass him, giving the DH a narrow .3407 average compared with Altuve’s .3399. By playing, Altuve would risk lowering his average, providing Martinez with a better chance of passing him.

Many players in the past have sat out their final game or games to “back in” to the batting championship, rather than give the fans a chance to watch a head to head battle injecting some much-needed drama to the expiring season. ESPN blogger David Schoenfield recounts some of those episodes here.

Altuve, however, gave Martinez his shot. He played the whole game, had two hits in his four at-bats, and won the American League batting title the right way—on the field, not on the bench.  (Martinez was hitless in three at bats.)

The conduct, simple as it was, embodied fairness, integrity, courage, respect for an opponent, and most of all, respect for the game.

Sportsmanship lives.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: American League Batting Champion Jose Altuve

  1. Thank you for posting about Altuve. He is probably the batter (and baserunner, and fielder) who deserves the most credit for the Astros winning 70 games this year. That club needs more Altuves, just to play .500.

  2. Reblogged this on Garlicfriesandbaseball's Blog and commented:
    Ethics and sportsmanship. Two of my favorite topics and my favorite blog dealing with the subject is “Ethics Alarms”. This isn’t a baseball blog, or even a sports blog for that matter, but I find myself quoting it often and I’m always able to learn from it. In this blog he talks about doing the right thing and what interested me most was, even if he hadn’t done the right thing, most fans would never have noticed. Chalk one up for another great article from Ethics Alarms’ Jack Marshall, ethicist, lawyer, and the president of ProEthics, Ltd., trying to keep us on the straight and narrow and reminding us there still is such a thing.

  3. After tonight, he’s either incompetent or an idiot savant. I may wake up with a head of grey hair tomorrow. What a game!

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