3 Texas Rangers to watch, and 2 Houston Astros that Texas needs to shut down

Texas is about to play the most important series of the season starting on Labor Day, and these are the players that will likely determine the outcome of the series.

Minnesota Twins v Texas Rangers
Minnesota Twins v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages
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2 Houston Astros that Texas needs to be sure to shut down

#1 Jose Altuve

The 33-year old Astros second baseman is not showing his age. He recently passed the 2.000 hit milestone. If he stays healthy could make a run at 3,000 hits. It should not be a surprise that his name is on this list. He really is the engine that helps everything go. He is their lead-off hitter and his pesky ability to get on-base helps the rest of the lineup function smoothly.

Altuve has been playing very well in the second half. He was hit by a pitch in the World Baseball Classic and suffered a broken thumb as a result. He spent most of the first half coming back from that injury. Since the All-Star break, Altuve has a .356 batting average, a .971 OPS, and four home runs, and 16 RBIs. That high batting average is being inflated by a .418 batting average on balls in play. It will be on the Rangers' pitching staff starting with Andrew Heaney on Monday to do their best to keep him off base.

Altuve is not only dangerous at the plate, but he is also dangerous on the bases. He is an excellent base-runner. He also can steal a base if necessary as he has 13 stolen bases on the season and has only been caught twice this year. He is not the stolen base threat he was earlier in his career, but the ability is still there.

If Texas can limit Altuve in these three games the lineup will be less difficult to navigate. It will limit the damage that players like Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Jose Abreu can inflict. The Rangers' pitching staff has to be ready from the first pitch of the game. Altuve is ready to attack from the moment he steps into the box. He has a .465 batting average and 20 hits on the first pitch of an at-bat. Keeping Altuve off base is certainly a key to Texas winning this series.