ARLINGTON -- If Jose Altuve had his way, he'd be taking Astros hitting coach John Mallee to the All-Star Game with him.
"He's one of the best hitting coaches I've ever worked with," he said.
Altuve, who will represent the Astros when he suits up for the American League in next week's All-Star Game, credits Mallee for helping him blossom into one of the best hitters in the game this year. He entered Wednesday leading the American League in batting average (.341) and stolen bases (41) and pacing the Majors in hits (126) and multi-hit games (39).
"Man, I think he's the one who's having a good season for me," Altuve said. "We are working together and early this year we talked about doing some changes about mechanics, and obviously it's helped me a lot. He's a guy that should be in the All-Star Game for me."
Mallee and assistant hitting coach Ralph Dickenson worked with Altuve this year to be more selective at the plate and mechanically try to change his stride so he stays in motion throughout the entire swing.
"We basically got rid of the early stride and stayed in motion, so now when he recognizes pitches, he recognizes it during his stride as opposed to when his foot is on the ground," Mallee said. "His stride timing became better and his overall timing became better, and that's why he's hitting more pitches than he was in the past. He's hitting the ball hard, too, because he's staying in motion."
Altuve is so appreciative of what Mallee has done for him that he gave him the bat he used to get his 500th career hit earlier this year.
"That's something that means a lot to be able to hit 500 in the big leagues," Altuve said. "He's the guy that's been helping me do this. He's a tremendous hitting coach, and I want to keep working with him in all the years coming up. I gave him the bat to tell him, 'I'm glad we're working together.'"
Mallee takes pride in how well Altuve has done.
"We care so much about all of our guys, me and Ralph," he said. "For a player of his caliber, or any of our guys, to give us credit is nice. At the end of the day, they're the ones in the box, they're the ones hitting. We do the best we can to prepare them and give them the information on how the swing works and also the best approach against that day's pitcher."