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Big League Stew

Houston's Jose Altuve stealing bases like nobody else has since 1917

David Brown
Big League Stew

Jose Altuve bears watching, no matter if you're a fan looking for exciting play on the base paths or an opposing team trying to keep an edge. Not everyone watches Altuve, though, in part because he plays for the Houston Astros, who have lost 100 games for three consecutive seasons. The Astros are better this season, on a pace for about 92 losses, and are worth paying attention to because of players such as George Springer, Dallas Keuchel and Altuve — one of the speediest players in the league. He's one of the best base stealers in a long time, actually.

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Altuve stole two more bases Sunday, helping his team to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-4 at Minute Maid Park, and also putting himself in elite company. He's the first player since Ray Chapman in 1917 to steal multiple bases in four straight games. Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Willie Wilson, Tim Raines, Lou Brock, Maury Wills — none of the great modern base thieves did it.

The best of records weren't kept before 1914, so we're not sure about early Ty Cobb or players from the 19th century. But we know that Altuve is on one heck of a roll, one of the best in a long time. Astros manager Bo Porter hasn't seen much like it.

Altuve finished the three-game series 9 for 14 and leads the big leagues with 116 hits. He's already stolen a career-high 36 bases — he swiped second in the first inning, and set a franchise record with a steal in six straight games.

''I've seen some players locked in in all my years of playing,'' Porter said. ''But the impact with which Jose Altuve is having on the baseball game, I would have to really sit down and think about or have some numbers put in front of me that would make me think that there is someone who's had more of an impact on a baseball game the way he's having an impact right now.''

Altuve took the compliment in stride, saying, ''He's my manager, he has to say that.''

Standing about 5-foot-6, Altuve is one of the shorter players ever to lace on spikes, so when he gets notice, it's often for being juxtaposed to a big guy. But his game is much bigger than physical stature. You've just got to pay attention to him.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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