It has been a wild couple of years for Jose Altuve.
The 31-year-old went from hero to villain when the Houston Astros’ sign stealing scandal got exposed.
Once the scandal got uncovered, fans’ perceptions of the superstar completely changed.
The 2020 campaign was the first season in which the scandal was public knowledge.
The COVID-19 pandemic made it so that Altuve and the Astros didn’t have to face hostile crowds in 2020, but despite that, it still seemed like Altuve was rattled by the outside noise.
He played like it, anyway.
He had arguably the worst season of his MLB career in 2020.
Some folks wondered if he was ever going to bounce back.
But in 2021, he has silenced the naysayers.
The seven-time All-Star is back to his old self.
For context, let’s look at the season Altuve had in 2020.
He only played in 48 games, so the sample size was small, but the results were incredibly bad.
He slashed .219/.286/.344, posted an OPS+ of 71, and finished the year with a WAR of -0.2.
All of those stats were career-worsts for him.
His defense suffered, too, making it seem even more likely that his struggles stemmed from mental roadblocks.
To his credit, he turned things around in the 2020 postseason.
And based on the way he has performed in 2021, it seems like the 2020 playoffs gave him the spark he needed to get back on track.
Let’s take a look at his 2021 campaign now.
Altuve Is Back To His Old Ways In 2021
The 2021 MLB playoffs are in full swing, and Altuve’s Astros are currently a win away from advancing to the ALCS.
There’s no telling if the team would be in that position without him.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 8, 2021
Altuve had a great regular season, and his success has carried over into the playoffs in many ways.
The three-time batting champ posted a regular-season slash line of .278/.350/.839.
He registered a 127 OPS+ and 130 wRC+.
He also racked up a WAR of 4.4, giving him his best mark since 2018.
He blasted 31 home runs, 32 doubles, and one triple over his 146 games.
The Astros will take that sort of production from Altuve year in and year out without hesitation.
In the playoffs, he has been very valuable, but in a unique way.
He isn’t hitting for average or power, but he’s reaching base at a whopping .400 clip.
He has also scored five runs in Houston’s three ALDS games.
WHAT A SLIDE BY ALTUVE 🙌 pic.twitter.com/mrKvMNHGHE
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 7, 2021
If the Astros’ playoff run continues deep into October, look for Altuve to start hitting for average and power in addition to reaching base at a high clip.
When Altuve is at his best, he’s one of the best players in baseball.
If you recall, he won three batting titles over a span of four seasons from 2014 to 2017.
During that four-year stretch, he had a .334 average, .880 OPS, and 144 OPS+.
His production in the 2021 regular season and playoffs hasn’t exactly been on that level, but there’s no doubt that he’s playing like a superstar again.
Whether fans like him or not, it seems like the five-time Silver Slugger is back in his groove.NEXT: Lance McCullers Jr. Adds To Postseason Legacy With Dominant Outing