Sean Pendergast

Which Houston Athlete "Hot Streak" Was the Best?

Yordan Alvarez's recent run of torrid hitting has been a lot fo fun.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Yordan Alvarez's recent run of torrid hitting has been a lot fo fun.
It may not feel like it at the moment, given the stark rebuild the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans are undergoing, but we are not all that far removed from the "sports supernatural" being somewhat normal around here. For all his warts in the "effort" department, James Harden did some remarkable things. For all his warts in the "lawsuit" department, Deshaun Watson was one of the most dynamic players in the NFL.

Those days are long gone in the basketball and football departments, even if things are looking up as compared to a year ago. However, then there is baseball. In that sport, we are still seeing some incredible stuff, and in that realm, the future is Yordan Alvarez. Fresh off an American League Player fo the Week award earlier this month, and on the cusp of a likely American League Player of the Month award for June, Alvarez has spent the last four weeks celebrating his new six-year, $155 million contract extension in style.

The Astros are on their way to another ALCS berth in October, while running away with the AL West title again, and yet as I watch Alvarez, all I can think about is similar dominant stretches from the last few years by Watson and Harden, of all people. More specifically, I think of Watson's scintillating rookie season, six starts cut short by an ACL injury, and Harden's 2018-2019 stretch of 32 straight games with 30 or more points per game.

THOSE were Yordan-ian type runs by two once great players (Harden's greatness has diminished with age, Watson's greatness has diminished via litigation.). For Houston fans, which of these three stretches was (or in the case of Alvarez, IS) the most fun? Let's do a quick breakdown of each one, with a "FUN SCORE" at the end of each one:
DESHAUN WATSON, 2017, QB, Houston Texans
TRANSCENDENT STRETCH:
First seven games of his NFL career (September 10 thru October 29, 2017)
NOTABLE STATS: 19 touchdown passes, rookie record for TD passes in one month (October)

FUN FACT:
Watson was NOT the Texans' opening week starting QB. That would be Tom Savage, who was pulled at halftime of the season opener, and didn't get his job back until Watson tore his ACL in practice on November 2.

COMMENT: The vibes of this initial stretch of Watson was like nothing we had experienced as Texan fans. A real franchise quarterback! The strength of Watson's "FUN SCORE" is bolstered by the fact that it's football in a football town. It's diminished by three things — Bill O'Brien's decision making torpedoing two awesome Watson performances on the road (New England and Seattle), Watson's ACL tear ending his season, and Watson's acrimonious, sad ending to his time in Houston.

WATSON FUN SCORE (scale of 1 to 10): 8.6

JAMES HARDEN, 2018-2019, SG, Houston Rockets
TRANSCENDENT STRETCH:
32 game stretch of 30+ points in each game (December 13, 2018 through February 21, 2019)
NOTABLE STATS: Harden AVERAGED 41.1 points per game during this stretch, and if you allow the threshold for points to decrease to 28 points per game, the streak runs from 32 games to 40 games with 35 and 29 points preceding the streak, and games of 28, 30, 58, 58, 42, 35, and 31 points following it.

FUN FACT: Chris Paul only played in 14 of the 32 games during this stretch, which actually may have helped facilitate the volume scoring from Harden. Harden actually averaged a stellar 7.4 assists per game during this stretch.

COMMENT: This streak by Harden was the most fun I've had watching Rockets' regular season basketball since the 22 game winning streak in 2007-2008, with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Harden was must see TV, and made everything look easy. Again, the "FUN SCORE" is diminished slightly by the way the season ended, and the moves Harden's discontent with the franchise triggered (Trading Paul for Russell Westbrook, most notably).

HARDEN FUN SCORE (scale of 1 to 10): 9.2
YORDAN ALVAREZ, 2022, DH/OF, houston Astros
TRANSCENDENT STRETCH:
May 29 through June 26, 2022
NOTABLE STATS: During this stretch, Alvarez leads baseball in virtually every major offensive stat, including RBI (29) and OPS (1.342).

FUN FACT: In the midst of this stretch, Alvarez signed an extremely team friendly contract (6 years, $115 million) that takes him through the 2028 season. Since the deal was reported on June 5, Alvarez has an OPS of 1.272.

COMMENT: If Aaron Judge didn't exist, Alvarez is likely the leader in the clubhouse for American League MVP, and unlike the previous two (now former) Houston athletes, Alvarez story has not taken a dark turn where he betrays the very city that rooted for him. Quite the opposite! This contributes heavily to Yordan's "FUN SCORE"!

FUN SCORE (scale of 1 to 10): 9.5

For what it's worth, when asked to pick one, Twitter is immersed in the recency of Yordan's stretch of greatness:
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