Houston Astros Evan Gattis Is A Triples Machine

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Jul 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis (11) hits an RBI single during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

You might assume that the Astros triples leader would be someone like the young fleet-footed Carlos Correa, George Springer, or Jose Altuve. It’s not. Nor is it Colby Rasmus or Marwin Gonzalez. No, the new speedster of the Astros is about the most unlikely triples hitter you can imagine. The guy that leads the Astros with five triples and is tied for 11th place in all of MLB is six-foot-four-inch, 260 pound Evan Gattis.

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The man also known as ‘El Oso Blanco’, ‘The White Bear’, had one career MLB triple before 2015. For him to hit so many in 88 games is an unlikely occurrence for sure, especially considering that he is built like a linebacker, not a sprinter. The Astros have several players far more capable of hitting triples, but only three others have even one this season. Center fielder Jake Marisnick has hit three, but he is expected to do these things; no one figured Gattis would lead the team in this difficult feat of hitting. A triple requires a combination of speed and power; the ability to hit a baseball far into the gap, and to possess the speed to sprint 270 feet before the ball is thrown to third base.

Gattis has the power, however, who would have thought he had the speed to pull off such a thing, five times so far this season? Who is this bear of a man that hits home runs and triples?

Gattis is 28, yet is only in his third MLB season. His road to the big leagues took a few unexpected turns, but he persevered and has become a major contributor to the Astros 2015 success. He is a perfect example of a man that had many reasons to give up and quit, but he refused to give in and abandon his dream of playing Major League Baseball.

He was born and grew up in the Dallas, Texas area, playing amateur baseball as a kid alongside future MLB players Clayton Kershaw, Justin Upton, Billy Butler, and Homer Bailey. Gattis attended three high schools, moving around to play for coaches he felt would help him the most.

He declared in 2004 that he would attend college, and so was not drafted by an MLB team. He declined a Rice University scholarship and accepted one from Texas A&M. Unfortunately, personal and family problems (including his parents’ divorce when he was eight) caught up with him and led to substance abuse, clinical depression, and suicidal thoughts.

“I wanted to kill myself for a long time,” Gattis told Bob Nightengale of USA Today in April 2013. “I was terrified of being a failure.”

After spending time in drug rehab and outpatient therapy, Gattis decided to give baseball another try. Seminole State College in Oklahoma gave him a spot, but after redshirting in his freshman year, he injured his knee in 2006 and quit baseball again.

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Four years of wandering ensued. Gattis worked as a parking valet in Dallas, in a pizza shop, and a ski resort in near Boulder, Colorado. The depression and an anxiety disorder landed him in another hospital. Then he moved back to Dallas and worked as a janitor with his brother, before moving to Taos, New Mexico and another stint working at a ski resort. Further moves followed as he spent time in California, and at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming.

“Drove some pretty sweet cars,” he said of his work as a parking valet in an Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com story in 2013. “Drove some old Ferraris.”

As a ski lift operator, “You had to make sure the chair didn’t hit people in the butt or, if a little kid doesn’t get off the lift, you’ve got to stop the lift,” he said in the same story.

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