Altuve chasing more history, AL batting crown

Altuve chasing more history, AL batting crown

ARLINGTON -- The final days of the regular season figure to be exciting for Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.

With four games remaining, Altuve leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.343) and hits (221) and the American League in stolen bases (54), putting him in position to become just the second player since 1945 to lead his league in those three categories in the same season.

Despite going 0-for-4 in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to Texas, Altuve still has an eight-point lead over Detroit's Victor Martinez in the AL batting race -- .343 to Martinez's .335. Altuve is set up nicely to become the first Astros player to win a batting title.

Interim manager Tom Lawless said he won't be shy about giving Altuve a couple of days off at the end of the season if he has a comfortable lead over Martinez.

"I'm giving him the option: 'You let me know when you want a day off,'" Lawless said. "I told him, 'I'm going to watch that race between you and Martinez and we'll see how it is.' I keep penciling him in the lineup."

Altuve has already set the Astros' single-season hits mark and has the most hits in a season by any Venezuelan-born player. His 221 hits entering Tuesday are the most by a second baseman since Charlie Gehringer of the Tigers had 227 hits in 1936.

What's more, Altuve has the fifth-highest hit total by a right-handed hitter in the Major Leagues since 1940, trailing Kirby Puckett (234 hits in 1988), Hank Aaron (223 in '59), Tommy Davis (230 in '62) and Puckett (223 in '86).

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.