Jose Altuve's 3-Homer Game Further Proves His MVP Worthiness
Yet after Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the 'Stros and Sox, it was Altuve who towered over the lanky left-handed hurler.
Altuve hit three home runs in the Astros' series-opening 8-2 win, two of them off this year's MLB strikeout king. In doing so, Altuve became just the ninth player in Major League history to go deep three times in a single postseason game.
José Altuve with the 10th 3-HR game in postseason history. He's the second 2B to do it, and second straight Venezuelan-born player to do it. pic.twitter.com/h0tbwQZ6qv
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 5, 2017
It's also important to note that, in the entire history of the game, very few players who are Altuve's size have gone deep three times in any Major League game, regular or post-season.
Only 2 men as short as Jose Altuve (or shorter) ever hit 3 HR in a regular season game: Freddie Patek (5-5) 6/20/80 & Hack Wilson 7/26/30
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 6, 2017
Altuve's 12 total bases tied for sixth-most in MLB postseason history with three players (Pablo Sandoval, Hideki Matsui, and Adam Kennedy) having 13 and two (Albert Pujols and Bob Robertson) having 14.
Put the team on your back, @JoseAltuve27. #ALDS pic.twitter.com/plQLBQ05fd
— MLB (@MLB) October 5, 2017
ESPN Stats & Info noted Altuve is the first second baseman since Chase Utley in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series to have a multi-homer game. Utley tied Reggie Jackson's World Series record of five dingers in the fall classic that year, and given the number of bombs being hit so far in the playoffs, that record seems certain to fall.
Altuve came into this year's playoffs looking to rebound from a dismal 2015 playoff run in which he went 4-for-26 with one walk and no extra base hits, but in his career against Sale was 8-for-21 (.381) with a homer. Suffice it to say, 2017 is going a lot better than 2015 did.
He and Aaron Judge finished the regular season locked in what seemed to be a two-person race for the AL MVP award, and although postseason numbers don't count towards the MVP vote, Altuve certainly earned a lot of supporters after the fact with his performance in Game 1. His 204 hits led the American League this season, and he bested Judge in Baseball Reference's version of WAR (8.3 to 8.1) but trailed him in FanGraphs' version (8.2 to 7.5). It will likely be a neck-and-neck vote.
Over the last four seasons, Altuve has essentially become Tony Gwynn, just with a bit more power. His .334 batting average since 2014 leads all of baseball by a wide margin (Michael Brantley and Joey Votto are tied for 2nd at .312), his 23.9 fWAR is 3rd (behind Josh Donaldson's 28.0 and Mike Trout's 32.9), and he has accumulated more than 200 hits in each of the last four seasons, the only player in MLB to do so. He's maintained a high batting average while seeing his homer total increase from 7 in '14, 15 in 2015, and 24 in each of the last two seasons.
Altuve's greatness was no secret before yesterday. His three-homer performance only cemented his status as one of the game's best pure hitters and most dynamic superstars.
October is the time for baseball's best players to shine, and Jose Altuve is looking pretty glossy right about now.