Jose Altuve is chasing a .400 batting average.On the road.OK, so that's not quite as hallowed and revered as a .400 average overall. That hasn't been done since 1941, when Hall of Famer Ted Williams -- arguably the best hitter in baseball history -- batted .406.Altuve, though, could make a
Jose Altuve is chasing a .400 batting average.
On the road.
OK, so that's not quite as hallowed and revered as a .400 average overall. That hasn't been done since 1941, when Hall of Famer Ted Williams -- arguably the best hitter in baseball history -- batted .406.
Altuve, though, could make a run at .400 in a different way. After going 2-for-4 with a homer Friday night at Texas, the Astros second baseman and reigning American League Most Valuable Player Award winner entered the weekend hitting a ridiculous .415 (56-for-135) away from Minute Maid Park.
That's the highest road mark (minimum 100 plate appearances) in the Majors this year, and the only one over .400. Next best? Resurgent Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp at .398 (albeit in more than 40 fewer trips to the plate than Altuve). No other player is north of .370.
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So, here's the real question: Can Altuve actually keep it up?
It may be unlikely, but the 28-year-old has shown a preternatural knack for hitting away from home. His .324 career batting average on the road is 19th-best all time (minimum 1,000 career road PA), and No. 1 among active players, just ahead of Joey Votto's .323.
Altuve's .324 career mark is the highest since Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn's .334, and the Padres star's career ended in 2001. Besides Gwynn, the most recent player to post a higher career road average was another one-franchise icon forever honored in Cooperstown, Stan Musial (.326). His 22-year career with the Cardinals came to a close in 1963.
Still have doubts? Consider, then, that Altuve's road averages have improved each season since 2015.
2015: .287 (94-for-328)
2016: .376 (120-for-319)
2017: .381 (112-for-294)
2018: .415 (56-for-135)
Really look at those numbers, because he actually came within striking distance of a .400 road batting average in each of the past two years. All Altuve needed was eight more knocks in 2016, and only six more last year. For a hit machine like Altuve, who averaged 211 per season while leading the AL every year from 2014-17 (and is doing so again this season), that's practically nothing.
Because you're probably wondering by now, here are the highest road batting averages in any season (minimum 300 PA away from home):
.454: Harry Heilmann, 1925
.422: Ty Cobb, 1911
.419: Rogers Hornsby, 1921
.415: Stan Musial, 1948
.414: Ty Cobb, 1917
.414: Ty Cobb, 1912
.412: Babe Herman, 1929
.410: Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1911
.408: Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1920
.405: Lou Gehrig, 1930
.405: Rogers Hornsby, 1920
.405: Ichiro Suzuki, 2004
That final entry stands out for a few reasons. For one, Ichiro's historic 2004 campaign with the Mariners was the one in which he set the single-season hits record with 262. For another, his .405 road average is the highest in any year since expansion in 1961, and the most recent .400 in this specific split.
None of this is to say Altuve is going to maintain quite this level of "road rage." But it'll be fun to track through the summer, starting right now, with the Astros at the outset of a season-long 10-game trip that might have the red-hot Altuve well on the road to .400.
Even if it's not that .400.
Jason Catania is a reporter for MLB.com.