Altmann Has Dogs at Head of Pack
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier discusses how Josh Altmann is leading the Chicago Dogs to the top record in the East Division
The Move of the Year?
It was arguably the biggest move of the off-season. In a desire to be closer to home, Lincoln Saltdogs Manager Brett Jodie accommodated his star player by trading Josh Altmann and Jonathan Cheshire to the Chicago Dogs for two players to be named later. When a former MVP candidate and one of the top relievers in the league move for two yet to be named players, most figure this will be a lopsided trade against Lincoln, but Jodie continues to prove that he is one of the classiest managers in the league, accommodating his player.
While Cheshire has been outstanding early on (4.90, 2 saves), it was Altmann who was the top dog in the trade. The shortstop dominated in his first year in Lincoln (2021), hitting .305 with 29 homers and 72 RBI in 85 games. He would’ve likely set the American Association record for home runs in a season had he not battled with the flu virus for two weeks. Last season, the numbers dropped, as he fell to .269 with 15 homers and 69 RBI in 95 games.
Back with a Vengeance
For Chicago, this move seemed like a no-brainer. After all, Altmann has been an All-Star the last two seasons, and his numbers last year still made him one of the best shortstops in the American Association. However, the team lost its top two power hitters from last year (K.C. Hobson and Grant Kay), and did not replace either in the lineup. This was going to be an offense that required Altmann to not only be the top power bat, but arguably the only one in the lineup. It was a big gamble for Manager Butch Hobson, and is another reason why Hobson is considered to be one of the brightest managers in baseball.
His move has been total gold. Altmann is off to a spectacular start, hitting .436 through the first 11 games. The shortstop has been pounding the ball as well, leading the American Association in homers (6) and he is tied for the most RBI (18). Altmann leads in total bases (39), on-base percentage (.540), and slugging percentage (1.000).
Not coincidentally, his team has caught fire. The Dogs lost their first game of the season, a contest where Altmann went 0-3, striking out two times in the game. That is the only time this season where he has struck out twice in the same contest and the only game where he has not reached base. Since then, Altmann is a combined 17-36 with seven walks, and has reached base at least twice in nine of the last 10 games.
His team has grabbed the shortstop’s tail and followed the new head of the pack, going 7-3 during his run. Over the last five they have been even more impressive, hitting .281 as a club, with 39 runs scored. They have hit just five home runs during that span, with two coming off the bat of Altmann.
The team is not just winning, but winning big series as well. They took two of three from both the Lincoln Saltdogs and Kane County Cougars to begin the season. Then, the team took two of three from the defending champion Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, and have taken the first two games of their series against the Railroaders in Cleburne, Texas. They have scored 24 runs through the first two games of the series in Cleburne.
His production is having a positive effect on individual performances as well. Outfielder Brennan Metzger struggled through the first five games of the season, but is hit .421 with seven runs scored over the last five, and catcher Ryan Lidge, hitting directly in front of Altmann, is hitting .350 with 10 RBI over his last five games. Over the last five games, Donivan Williams is hitting .467 and Cody Bohanek is batting .353.
This is great news, as this was a club that was expected to struggle offensively this year. With this type of season that Josh Altmann is having early, those predictions look to be premature. Chicago is atop the East Division standings entering Thursday’s games, and will have the opportunity to extend their lead as they continue their six-game set in Cleburne.
With the Gary SouthShore RailCats being the only other team in the division who is playing very well (7-3 over their last 10), this is an opportunity for Altmann and the Dogs to take early command of this division. Altmann looks like he is not only leading this team to the top record in the East, but establishing himself as the American Association MVP.
By Robert Pannier