Houston has a pretty impressive lineage of second basemen. From Joe Morgan to Bill Doran to Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent, it's a group filled with All-Star and Hall of Fame talent.
Improbably, Jose Altuve has joined that group. In fact, he's doing things that none of the players on that list have done.
All that culminated in Altuve picking up his 200th hit of 2014 in Seattle. Evan Drellich has a nice recap of the night, including Altuve changing bats to avoid going three straight games without a hit. That hasn't happened all season.
There have been 51 months in Astros history where a player has 39 or more hits. Only two players have collected two such months in the same season. Altuve joined Miguel Tejada in that distinction earlier this season, getting 39 hits in June and 45 in May.
Those 45 hits in May tied Altuve for the eighth-most hits in a single month in team history. He joins the likes of Sonny Jackson, Jesus Alou and Derek Bell. Eleven players have two months with 39 or more hits and five have three or more. Altuve joins Jeff Bagwell, Cesar Cedeno, Tejada and Bell in that club.
In case you can't tell, it's very, very hard to get 39 or more hits in a single month. The lowest batting average in the group belonged to Dickie Thon, who needed 146 plate appearances to reach 40 hits in August 1982, hitting .294/.333/.426. Altuve had one of 10 months with 39 or more hits and a .400 batting average, topped by Richard Hidalgo's September kick that saw him pick up 51 hits and bat .477.
This season, only two players have two months of 39 or more hits in the majors, Altuve and Tigers DH Victor Martinez. Last season, Martinez was the only player in the majors to do it twice while four players (Jeter, McCutchen, Torii Hunter and Angel Pagan) did it in 2012.
Pulling back a bit and looking at Altuve's season as a whole shows you even more of how special it's been. The fourth-year second baseman now has 200 hits, 41 doubles and 52 steals. Only eight players in MLB history have topped those marks in the same season and only three players have done it since 1922. Five of those seasons came in a player's Age 24 season or younger. One of those was Hanley Ramirez. Another was Ty Cobb and a third was Tris Speaker.
Craig Biggio did it during his amazing 1998 season, too, which is the closest we've got to a comparable for Altuve. But, when you look at all eight of those prestigious names in terms of weighted Runs Created plus (wRC+), which puts the offensive numbers in the context of the rest of the league, Altuve doesn't come near the other names on that list.
Altuve's wRC+ this season is 131, about 10 percent lower than the next-lowest guy. Hanley Ramirez managed a 144 wRC+ in his Age 23 season. Biggio's wRC+ in '98 was 145 while Ty Cobb's two seasons on the list totaled 189 and 200 wRC+. Tris Speaker checked in at 190 while George Sisler had a 170 wRC+.
So, Altuve's not in elite company just yet. He's had an impact, sure, but he's not quite Hall of Fame-worthy yet. If he reaches his projections for the rest of the season (219 hits, 45 doubles, 56 steals), only one player in history will have had a season its equal: Ty Cobb.
Consider where Jose Altuve was five years ago. Consider that back in 2010, we wondered if he had used a composite bat to hit like he did in Greeneville. Consider where this Astros team would be without Jose Altuve.