We are a little more than half way through the season, so this is a good time to change our Hitter of the Week into Hitter of the First Half. There were a lot of good performances, such as Luis Valbuena with his 19 home runs, or Evan Gattis driving in 54 runs. And don't forget Colby Rasmus and his 13 monster Colby Jacks.
While looking for the best hitters up until the All Star Break I found something interesting. Of my top three, one of them didn't finish the first half, and one didn't start the first half. Without using a lot of brainpower, you can probably make a pretty good guess about who is on this list. But if you are having a mental block I will go ahead and list them out for you. As always, let me know your thoughts.
The Gigante story of 2014 has been etched into all the fans minds. He was the first ray of light the team had seen in many bad seasons. Because of that great 2014, some may look at 2015 as a bit of a letdown. Altuve does not have as high an average or as many hits as he did through the same number of games last season, but his game has stepped up in other ways, mainly with the long ball. By the time they got to the break he had already surpassed his season high in home runs. He also has driven in more runs than the first half last year, mostly because he was batting a good part of this season in the second or third spot in the order instead of leading off. His BABIP for the first half was more than twenty points lower than his career average, so maybe we should be looking for a bump in his numbers over the second half.
One of the most exciting players the Astros have ever brought up to the majors, Correa injected immediate offense from the day he joined the team. He collected his first big league RBI in his first game. He collected his first homer in the very next game, as he went 2-for-4 and added two more RBIs. He has had a small slump or two as pitchers adjusted to him and he adjusted right back. Over his time with the team he has a solid .276 batting average and an .820 OPS. His seven home runs tied him for the most by an AL shortstop this season...IN 32 GAMES! (Sorry, got a little excited there.) Don't forget he has five stolen bases in five attempts. He is striking out more and walking less than his minor league numbers would indicate, but as he matures that should change. I don't think anyone can say enough about this kid. Glad he is on our side.
The Astros offense has really struggled at times since their leadoff man went down on July 1st after getting hit in the wrist. The team hopes he can be back sometime in mid-August (that would be the six-week mark of the 6-8 week timetable). He did a great job overall, and especially at the top of the batting order. His first half slash line was .264/.365/.457 with 13 homers and 43 runs scored, which is good since he started out the first month of the season with a line of .200/.300/.365 with three homers. (This is another reason not to get worried about first month numbers...or any one month of numbers.) His 133 wRC+ was first among the everyday players (just edging out Correa). He also stole 14 bases in 17 attempts. The team misses his bat and his speed, and the fans miss watching him play. Personally, I will celebrate another "George Springer Day" when he gets back.