Buster Olney's top 10 second basemen: Trust us, it's not just Jose Altuve 10 times

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Altuve endured the Astros’ worst years, which were some of the worst in baseball history. In his first four years in the big leagues (2011-2014), Houston was a cumulative 184 games under .500. It was fitting, then, that the best of times for the franchise -- the last out in the last inning of the Astros’ World Series clincher -- was a ground ball to the guy who lived through the worst of times. Altuve threw out Corey Seager and then went nuts, like the rest of his teammates.

His circumstances may also present the first serious challenge to the Astros’ reign as one of baseball’s pre-eminent teams, because only two years remain before Altuve will be eligible for free agency -- and you wouldn’t blame baseball’s best second baseman if he went for the big money, because his contract has been incredibly team-friendly.

Altuve signed a four-year deal with fifth- and sixth-year options in the midst of the 2013 season. The Astros bet that Altuve would remain productive and guaranteed him $12.5 million, and their return on investment has been staggering. Houston picked up the 2018 option for $6 million. Assuming that Altuve’s 2019 option is also exercised (at $6.5 million), he’ll make $23.75 million over the six years of his contract. Altuve has averaged six wins above replacement (WAR) over the past four seasons, and for the sake of argument, let’s say he does that for a couple of more years.

If you figure that each win above replacement is worth about $8 million to the Astros, that means that during the six years of his deal, he will have provided $288 million in value to the organization.

He is a legacy player for all that he has accomplished in what has been a Hall of Fame career trajectory thus far, so you would assume the Astros will do all they can to re-sign him.

Altuve heads the list of the top 10 second basemen, of course. The rankings are based on input from MLB evaluators, with input from ESPN researchers Sarah Langs and Paul Hembekides.