How Absurd Was Jose Altuve's Month of June?
Now, while this was technically because Altuve stole multiple bases for the fourth consecutive game (the first player to do so in 97 years), it could also be because the Hall just wants a piece of the magic that was Altuve's month of June. The Houston second baseman wasn't just good - he was ign'ant.
Oh, What a Month
In the month of June, Altuve had 39 hits. His teammate Chris Carter has 43 hits the entire season. Wut.
Overall in June, Altuve hit .411/.447/.495 with eight doubles. He managed to steal 17 bases without being caught a single time. Possibly the best part of all of this? Altuve struck out a total of four times the entire month. George Springer has had that many strikeouts in a single game four times this year. Only one of Altuve's strikeouts came after June 5th.
It wasn't just the stolen bases that Altuve piled on gobs at a time. In the month of June, the Astros played 24 games. He had multiple hits in exactly half of those, including two separate stretches where he had four consecutive multi-hit games. If that doesn't get you all hot and bothered, you should evaluate your life.
Among players with at least 50 plate appearances in June, Altuve was the only one with a batting average above .400. Mike Trout (of course) was the only player to eclipse Altuve's .447 on-base percentage at .471. And Altuve didn't just lead the league in stolen bases in June - he ran away with it. Only Seattle's James Jones was within 10 steals of Altuve, and he was still five behind. To put it quite simply, Altuve was one of the two best hitters in the entire league last month.
Although Altuve's 2014 isn't exactly a mystical unicorn in a patch of donkey dung, it certainly is a surprise given his previous performance. Prior to this season, Altuve had never posted a WAR above 1.6; he's at 3.0 already this year.
One of the cool stats we use here at numberFire is nERD. In Altuve's case, it's the number of runs he would score more than a league-average player if Altuve were to record all of the plate appearances in a game. You can read more on nERD here.
This season, Altuve's nERD is a silly 3.30, the eighth highest total in the league. You could say this is a minor deviation from the nERD-iness he had exhibited in previous years.
The question now becomes how is he doing this? numberFire's Evan Slavit talked about Altuve's plate discipline back at the end of May, and the numbers make a lot of sense. Basically, he's swinging less at bad pitches and making more contact on the occasions in which he does. That's a recipe for something particularly scrumptious.
This emphasis on avoiding bad pitches has helped Altuve get to where he is with his current strikeout totals. His first three seasons in the majors, he never had a strikeout percentage lower than 11.7. This year, it's at 6.3 after the disgusting June we already went over. The guy is taking a smarter approach at the plate, and it has catapulted him to the top of the food chain.
All-Star Game Injustices
As you all know, fans that vote for the All-Star Game have absolutely never, ever gotten it wrong. Any suggestion to the contrary is blasphemous and grounds for relegation to being a Mets fan.
That said, the voting at second base has been all kinds of jacked up this year. Below is a chart with the top five vote-getters in the American League at second base in order of the number of votes they had received when last updated Monday. Alongside that is their nERD (which solely tracks offensive capabilities) and WAR (which includes both offensive and defensive measurements). As you can see, somebody done messed this baby up.
Dustin Pedroia is barely above average in nERD-terms, and he has 165,000 more votes than Altuve. Cano's nERD isn't even half of Altuve's, and he has upwards of one million more votes than him. What's a brudduh gotta do to feel the love around here?
It's pretty clear that Altuve isn't yet receiving the love he deserves. He has become one of the top two offensive second basemen in the entire game, but the average fan may have no idea because they stick with the names they are used to. Obviously, he's going to make the All-Star team - John Farrell ain't no dummy, even if Pedroia is one of his guys. It's just a shame Altuve won't get the chance to start.
When you have a month like Altuve's June, people will take notice. When you have a month like Altuve's as a 24-year-old on a team with boatloads of young talent, you start to look at what this guy and this team can do moving forward. Thankfully, for Altuve and for lovers of baseball, it doesn't look like this man is stopping any time soon.