The defending World Series champion Houston Astros will not have their star second baseman, Jose Altuve, in the Opening Day lineup due to a thumb injury he sustained during the World Baseball Classic. Altuve, who was playing for his home country of Venezuela, was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of a quarterfinal game against the United States. The Americans, who went on to win 9-7, were propelled to victory by a grand slam from Trea Turner.
Altuve was not the only Major League Baseball star to suffer an injury during the WBC. Edwin Diaz, the closer for the New York Mets, sustained a season-ending knee injury while playing for Puerto Rico in the tournament. Diaz tore his patellar tendon in his right knee following a post-game celebration after an emotional victory for Puerto Rico over the Dominican Republic.
The news of Altuve’s injury has caused concern among fantasy owners, who are awaiting the results of his treatment. Altuve will require surgery, and his future is uncertain. An eight-time MLB All-Star, Altuve has been an integral part of two championship squads, winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2017 and a Gold Glove in 2015. He has been a six-time Silver Slugger and three-time AL batting champion, and has led the AL in stolen bases twice.
The Astros have relied on Altuve’s durability over the last decade; he has logged 137 games or more nine times since his first full season in 2012 and appeared in 150 games in five consecutive seasons between 2013 and 2017. He posted a solid slashline of .300/.387/.533 last season, with 28 home runs and 57 RBI in 141 games. However, he struggled in the 2022 playoffs and hit just .190 with no home runs, a surprising drop-off from his performance in the three previous postseasons, in which he hit five home runs each.
The Astros hope to win back-to-back World Series titles, which is no easy feat. The last team to do this was the New York Yankees, who won three consecutive championships between 1998 and 2000. Despite the Altuve injury, the Astros are still the favorites to win the 2023 World Series at +600 odds. The Yankees and Atlanta Braves are their closest competition at +750 odds, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers (+850), San Diego Padres (+950), and New York Mets (+950).
Altuve’s AL MVP odds have slipped to +5000 due to his injury. The Astros have a win total of 95.5 over/under entering this season, which is tied with the Dodgers for the highest win total in 2023 according to DraftKings.
The news of Altuve’s injury is a massive blow to the Astros, who seek a third straight American League pennant and a third consecutive AL West title. They are +310 and -175 odds, respectively, to achieve these goals.