Many Major Leaguers can go on a streak.
But few can go on the type of extended tear we've been seeing from Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman. With Alfonso Soriano recently joining the fray (and facing Berkman in a three-game set that starts tonight in Houston), we felt it was time to ask a good question here on the Stew: Exactly how do the three hottest hitters in either league stack up?
BLS contributor Nick Friedell takes a look at five different categories after the jump and arrives at a surprisingly definitive conclusion: No one currently comes close to Big Puma.
Chipper Jones — .410 average, 11 HR, 32 RBI
Lance Berkman — .399 average, 16 HR, 44 RBI
Alfonso Soriano — .296 average, 10 HR, 26 RBI
Winner: Berkman, the disparity in average is made up in the better power numbers.
Jones — Braves are 22-21, fourth in NL East
Berkman — Astros are 25-20, third in NL Central
Soriano — Cubs are 27-17, first in NL Central
Winner: Berkman, since Soriano missed 14 games with an injury.
Taking the temperature
Jones — Chipper has been so hot this season that there have only been six games when he DID NOT get a hit. Unlike most hitters, there hasn't been a specific stretch of games that you can point to as to when he started streaking. Jones got hot early in the season, and hasn't stopped hitting since. Last week in Pittsburgh, he actually went two games without getting a hit. Over the next five games, he made up for it, going 11-for-19 with an HR, and 3 RBI.
Berkman — The Astros are 12-4 during the month of May in large part because Berkman has put the team on his shoulders, and placed them back in the NL Central race. Since May 2, Berkman is a mind-boggling 35-for-62 with 8 HR, and 19 RBI. He has gotten a hit in every game during the month of May, as part of a 17-game hit streak that he started on April 30.
Soriano — Everyone knows that Soriano hits in bunches, but what he has done over the last week and a half has been incredible. The Cubs' star came into a May 9 game against the Diamondbacks hitting .188. Since then he is 21-for-40 with 7 HR, and 16 RBI. The Cubs came into that game on May 9 having lost five of seven, sliding the wrong way in the NL Central. Led by Soriano's hot hitting, the team has bounced back to win 8 of its last 10 games, and finds itself atop the standings in the NL Central.
Sharing the wealth
Jones — Usually when a hitter in the lineup is as hot as Chipper, the other hitters feed off that, and put up some big numbers as well. Mark Teixeira obviously hasn't gotten the memo. The big slugger, who has spent the vast majority of the season batting behind Jones, is in the middle of the worst season of his career. He has a .247 average, with 5 HR, and 21 RBI.
On the bright side, Yunel Escobar and Mark Kotsay, who usually hit in front of Jones, in the second spot in the order, are both benefiting from his hot start. Escobar is hitting .328 with 3 HR, and 15 RBI, over 33 games when he is batting in the 2-hole. Kotsay has a .321 average with an HR, and 7 RBI over seven games, when he hits in the second spot in the order.
Berkman — Miguel Tejada, who currently resides right in front of Berkman in the order, is having one of the best seasons of his career. The shortstop is hitting .344 with 5 HR, and 34 RBI. Carlos Lee, who also hits near Berkman in the order, has also benefited from the Big Puma's success. Lee is hitting .281 on the year, with 9 HR, and 31 RBI.
Soriano — Most people in Chicago would like to see Soriano hit lower in the order, but Ryan Theriot is not one of them. In 31 games batting second, usually behind Soriano, "The Riot" is batting .352, with an HR, and 12 RBI.
By the numbers
Jones — Chipper has had 11 two-hit games, 8 three hit-games, and 1 four-hit game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is just the fourth player since 1960 to have at least 60 hits and 10 home runs, before his team had played 40 games in a season.
Berkman — The Astro has had 14 two-hit games, 4 three-hit games, 1 four-hit game, and 1 five-hit game. He also has an .804 slugging percentage, tops in MLB.
Soriano — The left fielder has 8 two-hit games, 1 four-hit game, and 1 five-hit game. Over the last week and a half, Soriano has hit a lead-off home run three times.
Winner: Berkman (who else?)