Another day, another multi-hit game for Jose Altuve. Through 119 team games, the Astros' second baseman is batting .363 after going 2-for-4 with a double against the D-backs on Tuesday. Altuve is leading the race for the American League batting title, sparking the team with the best record in the AL on a daily basis.
If he keeps up this pace over the rest of the season, Altuve would be the first Major Leaguer to bat .360 or higher since Joe Mauer in his AL MVP season in 2009, when he hit .365. Altuve also is a front-runner in this year's MVP race.
The 27-year-old now has a Major League-best 165 hits, putting him on pace for a fourth straight 200-hit season. The last player with such a streak was Ichiro, who opened his Major League career with 10 straight 200-hit seasons from 2001-10. Altuve has 48 multi-hit games this season, the most in the AL, and more than double his number of games without a hit (23).
As far as the 2017 AL batting crown goes, Altuve is light years ahead of the next-closest competition -- which just so happens to be his own teammates. The top three hitters in the AL by batting average are all Astros: Altuve, Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez (who is tied with the Mariners' Jean Segura). But Altuve's .363 batting average dwarfs Correa's .320 and Marwin's .316.
For Correa's batting average to dip below .320, the point at which he would cede the No. 1 spot on the league leaderboard to Correa, he would have to have a string of 60 hitless at-bats from the point at which he stands (165-for-455) entering play Wednesday. To drop below Segura, the highest-ranking non-Astro, Altuve would have to add an 0-for-67 slump to his season stat line.
This could all change by the end of September, of course. Correa, for one, has been out since mid-July due to a torn ligament in his left thumb and might not end up with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
Still, what the Astros are doing right now is impressive, and they're in good company. The last trio of teammates to finish 1-2-3 for the batting title? John Olerud, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar for the 1993 Blue Jays, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
That Blue Jays team went on to win the World Series. The Astros are hoping to follow suit, with their 5-foot-6 sparkplug leading the way.