HOUSTON -- After walking five times in 234 plate appearances last season, second baseman Jose Altuve and the Astros coaching staff focused on how he could improve his plate discipline.
It seems their emphasis has paid major dividends already.
Entering Saturday's contest against the Rangers, Altuve had 12 walks in 161 plate appearances. He has walked in 7.5 percent of plate appearances in 2012, compared with 2.1 percent in 2011.
Altuve hasn't sacrificed making solid contact to be more patient at the plate, either. His contact per swing in 2012, 92 percent, is up six percent from 2011.
"That's the type of hitter he is," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He's good that way. He makes good consistent contact. We just want to make sure that he's being able to go deeper into counts as well."
Heading into Saturday's game, Altuve had taken 3.56 pitches per at bat in 2012. He took 3.08 pitches per at bat in 2011.
In Friday's game against the Rangers, Altuve worked three five-pitch counts against starter Neftali Feliz and walked in his second and third at-bats. That was the first multi-walk game in Altuve's career.