Babe Ruth is considered a giant (or a legend) in baseball history, but now 5-foot-6 Jose Altuve can look that giant in the face with a historic three-home run game in the American League Division Series.
Altuve crushed three homers in four at-bats against the Red Sox during Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday night. He finds himself in elite company, with Ruth, as one of ten players ever to have three home runs in a single game during the postseason. Ruth is the only player on that list to do it twice.
— MLB (@MLB) October 5, 2017
The Astros cruised past the Red Sox by a final of 8-2, led by the stout pitching of mid-season pickup Justin Verlander and of course their second baseman who resembled Mighty Mouse.
“I love the way that the team went out there and played today,” Altuve said. “We put a lot of good at-bats together, and [when] Marwin doubled, it was real big. But I think one of the keys was when Alex homered. I think he set the tone.”
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
This was the first time in five years that a player has reached three homers in a single postseason game. The last to do it was Pablo Sandoval in 2012 while with the Giants.
The sad thing about Altuve is that he is wildly overlooked as an MVP candidate. Hopefully, this powerful performance can open the blinds for some people to see how valuable he truly is for the Astros.
In the regular season, Altuve led the league in batting average (.346) and hits (204). To put this into perspective, he has been in this league for seven years now and in that span has led the league in batting three times and in hits four times.
In fact, the last four seasons he has led the AL in hits. He’s led the league in batting the for the last two seasons.
The man is a hitting machine. Period. Look at this stat line from 2017 for Altuve:
.346 average, 204 hits, 24 home runs, 81 RBIs, 32 stolen bases (only caught six times), and 112 runs scored. Those look like MVP numbers, despite the low amount of home runs. Everything else is so above average for him.
Altuve is the reason why sabermetrics should be looked at. Because despite the power, Altuve produces runs by getting on base, and those runs he produces translates into Ws in the win column.
According to Fangraphs, Jose Altuve was ranked behind Yankees rookie Aaron Judge for the highest wins above replacement in the MLB. Wins above replacement or WAR is the number that represents a number of wins a player added to a team above what a replacement — or minor leaguer — would add.
The AL MVP award is not necessarily a lock for Judge, who smashed his way into the record books this season when he passed Mark McGwire for the rookie home run record.
Even if Altuve does get snubbed for the award, he has certainly gained more attention on Thursday night. An MVP award seems possible before the end of his career.