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Altuve positions himself for Ichiro-like season

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HOUSTON -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve enters the final month of the season leading the American League in hits, batting average and stolen bases, giving him a chance to become the first player to lead his league in those three categories since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

He went 4-for-5 with two doubles in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Rangers and drove in the game-winning run with an eighth-inning single, giving him a Major League-leading 189 hits. He's hitting .336 as he vies to become the first Astros player to win a batting title.

If he can win a batting title, he would join Joe Mauer (2006) and Alex Rodriguez (1996) as the only AL players 24 or younger to win a batting title in the last 20 seasons. He's the first AL player with at least 185 hits and 49 steals in a season since Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury in 2009.

Jeff Bagwell set a club record in his Most Valuable Player season of 1994 when he batted .368, but he still finished a distant second to the Padres' Tony Gwynn (.394) in the National League batting race that season.

Altuve needs just 11 hits to become the second Astros player to reach 200 in a season, joining Craig Biggio. He had a club-record 210 hits in 1998, hitting .325 that season. Biggio had 178 hits through 137 games, so Altuve is seven ahead of that pace.

Altuve ranks eighth on the club's single-season charts in hits, one behind Carlos Lee (190 in 2007).

Brian McTaggart is 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.

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