Rob Dibble is skeptical of Jose Altuve. During Tuesday’s All-Star game, the former pitcher took to Twitter to say that he doesn’t believe Altuve’s power numbers are entirely clean.
Translation, the guy who once deliberately threw a baseball at the back of a runner did so without any outside influence. That sure seems like a credible “source” on Altuve.
For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that at some point in the future, Altuve will in fact be revealed as a PED user. Even if that happens, Dibble’s argument here is still weak.
Altuve is in the midst of an uncharacteristically strong power season. Therefore, something fishy must be going on, right? In Dibble’s own words. Please.
There are certainly other explanations for this.
Explanation 1: Even in the days when Altuve was hitting 5-7 home runs a year, he always had good extra base numbers. It’s certainly possible that Altuve saw a few too many well-hit balls fall on the warning track for doubles and decided to work hard to add power. PED use is not the only way to beef up to add power.
Explanation 2: Altuve is 26 now. Generally speaking, players don’t enjoy the greatest power seasons of their careers in their early 20’s. Those tend to come in the mid-late 20’s, or even early-30’s. A dramatic power increase between ages 23 and 26 isn’t at all abnormal.
Explanation 3: Houston’s lineup is now much better than it ever was early in Altuve’s career. From 2011-14, the Astros were baseball’s worst team.
Batting primarily lead off on a bad team, it stands to reason that a player like Altuve wouldn’t have gotten many great pitches to hit. Now, the team and lineup are both better. With better protection, stars like Altuve get better pitches to hit.
Any one of those explanations would speak to an increase in power. Any combination of 2-3 of them (or countless others) would also explain Altuve having a career season in terms of homers.
For the record, we don’t know what’s going into Altuve’s body. With that said, Dibble’s argument is incredibly weak. Altuve’s power numbers are up, and certainly, anything is possible. But regardless of what the future reveals, this “explanation” from Rob Dibble will remain all bark and no bite.