Jose Altuve went blank for two consecutive games during the week just concluded. That is quite a rarity. The Houston Astros waiter had not gone without hits in two straight games throughout the season. It is an unstoppable machine. The usual thing is to see him add rockets.
The little Venezuelan giant ratified his fame in the last duel of the series against the Texas Rangers after those two fruitless nights. That day he fired three unchallenged, raised his average to .320 and left a new reminder of his matchless ability with the wood.
It was the 111th occasion in which Altuve achieved a harvest of three connections to no-man’s land in the same match. Since coming to the majors in 2011, no one has tripled more times than he.
Miguel Cabrera is his closest pursuer. He has 105 commitments like that and lags behind his compatriot despite his four batting titles. Adrián González, with 89, and Starlin Castro, with 87, come much further back, according to the Baseball Reference search engine.
It’s fun to explore statistics every time the middleman gets something special on the ground.
On Friday, in his next set, he released two more hits. And again he did it on Saturday. And again on Sunday. He reached 322 opportunities with multiple hits in a shock. Only Robinson Canó (348), Cabrera (341) and Ian Kinsler (327) have accumulated more since 2011, although all with an advantage: they disputed that campaign, while Altuve was raised in July and saw action in only 57 stops.
There is much more than just entertainment statistics on what this offensive specialist is doing, born in Puerto Cabello 27 years ago and raised in Maracay. Because he is back to his favorite battle. On May 14 he was .286 on average. A month later, he has climbed to .331, getting fully into the fight for the AL batting lead.
The infielder defends the title he achieved in 2016. Last year he hit .338, which meant his second crown in three harvests and reaffirmation of his consistency in the plate.
Since winning the throne for the first time in 2014, he has accumulated an average of .330 in more than 2,400 plate visits. The best after that is Cabrera, with .316, followed by Buster Posey and Daniel Murphy, with .311 both.
The tiny piston of the Astros now sees it feasible to get their third diadem in a possible four period, something that would lead to remarkable achievements.
It is not common for a right to repeat a batting title in the majors, even though between Altuve and Cabrera they have taken the last six in the American League and although two other right-handers, Aaron Judge and Avisaíl García, are in the highest by these days.
Nomar Garciaparra was the last before Cabrera to repeat his dominance on the young circuit. He did it between 1999 and 2000. And before Garciaparra, Bill Madlock did it in the National, between 1975 and 1976.
There is little more than half a calendar to get definitive accounts. It’s a long time. But Altuve’s rebound, which placed him among the three tallest steps, in pursuit of Judge and Garcia, invites to put into perspective what is within reach of the Houston waiter.
Cabrera is the only right-handed batter who has scored three or more batting sticks, consecutive or not, for the past 34 years. And only he, Madlock and the great Roberto Clemente have added three or more since 1928 among the sluggers of his hand, counting from the last that obtained the legendary Rogers Hornsby, makes 90 championships.
Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie and Cap Anson did so before Hornsby, between 1879 and 1911.
They are a few names, all members of the Hall of Fame, except Madlock and Cabrera, who is not yet eligible.
That is what the Altuve ignited.