HOUSTON — Jose Altuve hit .346 to win the American League batting title for the second straight year before batting .533 in the ALDS to help the Houston Astros eliminate the Boston Red Sox.

As Houston prepares for its first league championship series since 2005, Altuve’s teammates and coaches say what’s better than his gaudy numbers is his approach: No matter how great his stats are, he always believes he can do better.

“He has four hits and he’s like: ‘Carlos I never had a five-hit game before, let me try to get the fifth hit,'” star shortstop Carlos Correa said. “He’s always striving for more. And that’s what I’ve learned from him that makes me better every single day.”

Altuve isn’t sure why he’s always had that mindset. It could stem from years ago, when many doubted that someone who is only 5-foot-6 could make it in the majors. But he won’t admit that now.

“That’s the way I am,” he said when asked about his drive. “I just want to keep getting better … if I can get better to keep helping my team I am going to be happy to do it.”

Altuve is one of the longest-tenured players on this team and among a handful who were around for the bleak times when the Astros lost 100 or more games in three straight seasons from 2011-13. He was a major reason the Astros returned to the postseason after a 10-year absence in 2015. But he batted just .154 without an extra-base hit as Houston was eliminated by eventual champion Kansas City in the ALDS.

Things have been much different this time around, with Altuve carrying his big hitting in the regular season into the playoffs with eight hits in the ALDS. He starred in Houston’s Game 1 win over Boston when he became just the 10th player in major league history and first since 2012 to hit three homers in a playoff game. Babe Ruth did it twice.

But the All-Star second baseman insists that he isn’t thinking about any of the numbers that he’s put up so far as Houston prepares for the ALCS.

“The five-whatever I hit last series is already gone,” he said. “It doesn’t count for this series. So if someone asks me what is your batting average right now I would say: ‘It’s zero.’ I haven’t got a hit in the next series so that’s the way I think right now.”

JAPANESE PLAYER Shohei Otani will have right ankle surgery on Thursday.

The reigning Pacific League MVP, in his fifth season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, is prized as both a pitcher and hitter. He is likely to leave Japan and sign with a Major League Baseball team through the posting system in the off-season.