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Altuve climbs Astros' hits list; what comes next?

@brianmctaggart
May 2, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- José Altuve could be remembered one day as the greatest hitter to wear an Astros uniform if he continues on his current career arc. A few years ago, Altuve became the greatest No. 27 to wear Astros colors, surpassing the great Bob Watson with an impressive resume that

MINNEAPOLIS -- José Altuve could be remembered one day as the greatest hitter to wear an Astros uniform if he continues on his current career arc. A few years ago, Altuve became the greatest No. 27 to wear Astros colors, surpassing the great Bob Watson with an impressive resume that includes six All-Star Games and an American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Altuve, who ended April mired in a slump, started May by going 2-for-4 with a double -- his first multihit game since April 19 -- in the Astros’ 6-2 loss to the Twins on Wednesday night at Target Field. Altuve climbed past Watson into sixth place on the Astros’ all-time hits list.

Altuve had two of the four hits the Astros mustered against Twins starter Martin Perez, who threw eight scoreless innings.

“I know I’m not playing my best game right now, but I’m going out there with the mindset to do everything to help my team,” said Altuve, who’s hitting .256. “Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other guy, and Martin threw the ball really, really good.”

Altuve’s 1,449 career hits trail only Craig Biggio (3,060), Jeff Bagwell (2,314), Jose Cruz (1,937), Cesar Cedeno (1,659) and Lance Berkman (1,648) in team history. Altuve will turn 29 on Monday and is under contract with Houston for five more years after 2019, so his assault on the Houston record books will continue.

Here’s where Altuve ranks on some of the Astros’ other all-time lists through Wednesday:

At-bats: 4,602, ninth

Next: Terry Puhl (1977-90), 4,837
If Altuve remains healthy, he should have little trouble comfortably passing Bagwell (7,797) in a few years to move into second place. Catching Biggio (10,876) would take at least another decade. Only 29 players in history have amassed 10,000 at-bats, but Altuve has a shot.

Runs scored: 660, eighth

Next: Puhl, 676
Altuve has averaged about 93 runs per season since he broke into the Majors in 2011. He played on three consecutive 100-loss teams (2011-13) to start his career but topped 100 runs in 2016-17 as the Astros became an offensive juggernaut. He’s barely a third of the way to Biggio’s club record of 1,844 runs, so he’s got some work to do.

Doubles: 276, sixth

Next: Cruz (1975-87), 335
Altuve, who averages about 39 doubles a season, could be comfortably in third place on the club’s all-time list sometime in 2021. Berkman is currently third with 375, and then there’s the big leap to the Hall of Famers -- Bagwell at 488 and Biggio at 668, which is an MLB record for a right-handed hitter.

Extra-base hits: 407, eighth

Next: Watson (1966-79): 410
Altuve has “The Bull” in his sights once again for extra-base hits, and this is a category where Altuve has a better shot to catch Biggio, who leads the way with 1,014. Altuve’s ability to drive the ball over the fence and in the gaps and his elite speed mean there are a lot of extra-base hits left in his bat.

Batting average: .315, first
It would take a pretty sharp decline in the second half of Altuve’s career for him not to retire with the highest all-time batting average in club history. Wipe Altuve from the books, and Bagwell and Watson are tied with .297 marks. Altuve is in a league of his own on this one.

Stolen bases: 249, fourth

Next: Cruz, 288
This is another area where Altuve has a real shot to set the club record, which is held by … not Biggio. Cedeno (1970-81), who drew comparisons to Willie Mays early in his career, has 487 steals with Houston, putting Altuve a little more than halfway there. He has stolen at least 30 bases in a season six times, including 56 in 2014. He probably won’t run as well in the second half of his career, but he’ll catch Cedeno if he averages 24 steals over the next 10 years.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.