KANSAS CITY -- Nearing the midpoint of the regular season, the Astros are back in the postseason picture, thanks in large part to dynamic second baseman Jose Altuve. He'll likely play in his fourth All-Star Game presented by MasterCard next month -- he's the vote leader at second for the
KANSAS CITY -- Nearing the midpoint of the regular season, the Astros are back in the postseason picture, thanks in large part to dynamic second baseman Jose Altuve. He'll likely play in his fourth All-Star Game presented by MasterCard next month -- he's the vote leader at second for the American League -- and has put himself in the thick of the AL Most Valuable Player Award race, even if he doesn't think so.
Altuve, who entered Sunday's 6-1 loss to the Royals leading all Major League position players in WAR (4.3), singled in the fourth inning and has now reached base in a career-long-tying 29 games in a row. He entered the series finale ranked first in the AL in batting average, was second in on-base percentage, hits, stolen bases and OPS, and was third in doubles. He's also added more power this year with 13 homers and 44 RBIs.
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Altuve is batting .347 with 103 hits, 18 steals, 23 doubles, a .427 on-base percentage and a .993 OPS.
"We've seen this season out of him and been around it every day," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Having not been around every other player every day, it's hard to argue anyone is having a better season. It's as impactful in all facets as anyone can be -- his power, the speed, the hits. I think he's up there in every category. It's nice to see him put it all together and be a complete player. I know he's our MVP, for sure."
When asked if he was in the MVP race, Altuve, not surprisingly, wasn't buying it.
"MVP is like you have to do everything perfect," he said. "I'm not saying I wouldn't like it. I think everybody would like to get an MVP, but it's really hard. I'm going to keep playing hard. I think the best MVP you can get is be in the playoffs and win the World Series. I think that's what we all want in this clubhouse."
Altuve, whose strike zone judgment has improved tremendously this year, said he's done a better job this season of forgetting previous games, good or bad. He said you have to show up to the ballpark daily in a consistent frame of mind.
"When I say that, if you have 0-for-5, 0-for-6, you have to come the next day and forget about that," he said. "And if you have four hits like I did [Saturday], you have to come the next day and forget about that because you don't want to go to home plate thinking you got four hits yesterday.
"This is an everyday game. You have to be able to do it every game. That's been the key for me. I'm real excited about my team. I think we have a big shot to go to the World Series. It sounds crazy right now because we're  games behind [the Rangers in the AL West], but we're really close to the Wild Card, and I know if we have a chance to get in the playoffs we're going to do it."
When pressed to come up with his favorite for the AL MVP midway through the season, Altuve paused and thought for a moment.
"I don't know," he said. "I have to check the numbers. I'll tell you tomorrow."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.