Is Jose Altuve the most unlikely player to hit three homers in a postseason game?
When you think about home runs, you probably picture a fearsome slugger, one of those Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge types who obliterate the baseball on a daily basis. You probably don't think of Jose Altuve, the Astros' diminutive second baseman who won his second consecutive AL batting title in 2017 after slashing .346/.410/.547.
Even with the above context, you still might not imagine he'd hit three dingers in a single postseason game ... but that's exactly what he did in the Astros' 8-2 win over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS presented by Doosan on Thursday afternoon.
Three homers in a single postseason game hasn't happened very often in MLB history. In fact, Altuve became just the ninth different hitter to do so:
3 HR in a postseason game, @MLB history:- David Adler (@_dadler) October 5, 2017
Jose Altuve today
Given that group, just how unlikely is Altuve to accomplish the feat? Let's break it down for comparison's sake, focusing on some of the more recent instances.
Altuve, 5-foot-6, 165 lbs., 84 career homers (and counting) -- unlikely, but also not terribly surprising
Yep, that's correct. Altuve's trio of dingers on Thursday represents roughly four percent of all the homers he's hit to date in his career. That definitely seems rather unlikely, though he has hit 24 homers in each of the past two seasons. So, he's clearly discovering his power stroke as he matures at the plate. He's only had two two-homer games thus far, though.
Adam Kennedy, 5-foot-11, 195 lbs., 80 career homers -- pretty unlikely
The Angels' Adam Kennedy famously clubbed three homers in Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS, something that probably would have sent social media into a frenzy had it existed back then. Kennedy had three two-homer games over the course of his career, but no three-homer games either (just like Altuve). To sum it up, Kennedy was a pretty unlikely three-homer guy.
Pablo Sandoval, 5-foot-11, 255 lbs., 125 career homers (and counting) -- pretty likely
The Giants won the 2012 World Series over the Tigers, and Pablo Sandoval set the tone with a three-homer attack in Game 1, with two of them coming off Justin Verlander (who happened to start Thursday's game for the Astros). Unlike Altuve and Kennedy, Sandoval has one three-homer game under his belt already, and has hit two homers in a game five times. So, therefore, he was probably a bit more likely to do the three-homer thing than the aforementioned pair of middle infielders.
Albert Pujols, 6-foot-3, 240 lbs., 614 career homers (and counting) -- very likely
You know all about Albert Pujols. He's made hitting homers a calling card of his career for years now, and is currently seventh on the all-time list of prodigious power hitters. He swatted three in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series as a member of the Cardinals. Pujols actually has four three-homer games already in his career, so he's pretty much a good example of the type of player you'd expect to do this in the postseason.
Adrian Beltre, 5-foot-11, 220 lbs., 462 homers (and counting) -- likely
With the Rangers leading the Rays in the 2011 ALDS, two games to one, Adrian Beltre basically singlehandedly won them the series with a three-homer night at Tropicana Field in Game 4. Texas won, 4-3, on the strength of three solo shots by Beltre, who has hit 462 round-trippers to date in his enduring career. Beltre has hit three homers in a regular-season game one time over the years, while hitting two 31 times ... so given his penchant for dingers, it's not entirely surprising he wound up on this list, really.
Bob Robertson, 6-foot-1, 210 lbs., 115 career homers -- pretty unlikely
The longtime Pirates first baseman only hit 115 homers over the course of his career, hitting two homers just six times. Despite his unassuming stats, Robertson's three-homer Game 2 of the 1971 NLCS puts him firmly in the "total surprise" category, and might even be less likely than Altuve's -- considering the kind of hitting Altuve's displayed in the first few seasons in the Majors.
The other names on the three-homer list include Hall of Famers George Brett, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth (who did it twice), all of whom are the names you'd expect to see when it comes to this kind of offensive attack.
Altuve may be one of the smallest players in the game today, but he's definitely proved that it doesn't matter whatsoever. And considering his new postseason homer parade, he can now basically stand shoulder-to-shoulder with this guy:
Where would you rank Altuve, in light of his Game 1 curtain call-earning power display?
Tune in to check out the Astros vs. the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS presented by Doosan on Friday at 2 p.m. ET on FS1.