ST. PETERSBURG -- Second baseman Jose Altuve is on pace to become only the second Astros player to have at least 200 hits and 50 stolen bases in a season. Craig Biggio set the franchise record with 210 hits in 1998, the same year he stole 50 bases.
Altuve banged out his Major League-leading 100th hit in his second at-bat Friday and led the American League with 26 stolen bases. Altuve set a career high with 35 steals last year, but he also led the league with 13 times caught stealing. He has been caught just three times year, which first-base coach/baserunning coach Tarrik Brock attributes to Altuve's improved baseball acumen.
"It's just picking the right spots for him to run and doing our homework over the pitchers that he's going to face, starters and guys coming out of the bullpen," Brock said. "You have to know the hitters and the guys coming up behind him as well.
"Sometimes the threat of him running is greater than actually running and setting up the hitters behind him. In doing that, you catch some pitchers that fall asleep with him over there and being able to take advantage of it with him in scoring position. When he's ready to go, there's wasted time."
Manager Bo Porter said Altuve set out to improve his success rate when it came to stealing bases.
"I give him a lot of credit," Porter said. "There was some room for growth, and Tarrik Brock has done a great job with the baserunning, and Altuve has done a good job taking the information and understanding the value of when to run, when not to run."
Porter said Altuve could have had 40 stolen bases by now but understands that being on first base can be beneficial to the hitters behind him, who may get more fastballs with him a threat to run to second.