The Houston Astros have one of the best offenses in baseball this season, leading MLB with a 126 team wRC+ (entering Monday).
Their hitting coach - well, one of their two hitting coaches - is Álex Cintrón. Remember that guy?
Cintrón was born Dec. 17, 1978, in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The 6-foot-2 210-pound shortstop was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 36th round of the 1997 MLB Draft out of high school. He worked his way through the minors, hitting .307 in 1999 for High Desert (High-A) in the California League, then hit .301 in 2000 for El Paso (AA) in the Texas League. In 2001, he started the season with Tucson (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League before making his MLB debut on July 24 in Arizona against the Padres. He entered the game as a pinch runner for Matt Williams and grounded out against Rodney Myers in the bottom of the eighth inning. He played in a few games in August, then a few more in September and October, going 2-for-7 with a triple in his first taste of MLB action.
Cintrón split 2002 between Tucson and the Diamondbacks, hitting .213/.322/.293 in 38 games in the majors. He broke out in 2003 playing 117 games, hitting .317/.359/.489 with 13 home runs; the first longball coming May 14, 2003, at Philadelphia off Brett Myers. He hit a walkoff home run June 20, and took Greg Maddux deep on August 17 in Atlanta.
On May 18, 2004, Cintrón was the starting shortstop, knocking in the game's first run and collecting three hits in Randy Johnson's perfect game in Atlanta. He made a great play on a Mike Hampton dribbler to preserve the gem to end the sixth inning. Nearly two months later on July 8, Cintrón became the first player in Diamondbacks history to homer from each side of the plate in a game. He was never able to replicate his success from 2003, hitting a combined .266/.300/.383 in 2004-05 before he was finally dealt to the White Sox on March 8, 2006, for reliever Jeff Bajenaru.
Prior to making his White Sox debut, Cintrón hit .333 (8-for-24) with a home run for team Puerto Rico in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic. Other former/future Sox who played on that team include José Valentín, Álex Ríos and Javier Vázquez.
Cintrón filled in at shortstop and third base for the White Sox over the next two seasons. He hit .285/.310/.392 with five home runs and a career-high 10 stolen bases in 91 games in 2006, then tailed off in 2007. Cintrón's lone career grand slam came on August 16, 2006, for the White Sox in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Royals. Unfortunately, the White Sox were trailing 10-0 at the time.
For 2008, he tried his luck with the Cubs in spring training, but was released before the end of March. He did play 61 games for the Orioles in 2008 and 21 more for the Nationals in 2009. After his release from Washington, Cintrón tried to reach the majors with the Mariners, Mets, Nationals again and Padres. He played in Mexico as well as the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent Atlantic League before calling it a career in 2012.
Cintrón's totals in nine MLB seasons were a .275/.313/.394 slash line with 33 home runs, 222 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 680 games. Fun fact: no White Sox player has worn No. 8 since Cintrón (it is currently worn by first base coach Daryl Boston).
After retirement, Cintrón ran the Cintrón Baseball Youth Organization in Houston, and eventually landed a job in 2017 as the Astros Spanish translator, advance scout and assistant coach. He was named Astros hitting coach in November 2018.