All Things Astros and a whole lot more
An early season post used the term YIE (Yes It’s Early) in speaking of the solid start the Astros built out of zero expectations. This post could be called YIE-2, but gosh what Carlos Correa has done to date at the tender age of 20 at the major league level is unbelievably exceptional.
Through his 46th game on Saturday, he had put up a wonderful line of .299/.345 OBP/.916 OPS with 28 runs, 14 doubles, 12 home runs, 32 RBI and five stolen bases thrown in to the mix. If his numbers were projected to 162 games, he would have 99 run, 49 doubles, 42 HRs, 113 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.
If he had put up those numbers in 2014 for a whole season he would have been first in HRs and RBI, second in slugging percentage and doubles, fifth in OPS and sixth in runs scored in the AL. And the players he would have been rubbing shoulders with would not have been either shortstops or 20 year olds.
Even though he has played half or less of the games that most shortstops have played to date, he is the only AL shortstop with double digit HRs and probably the only other shortstops in his class right now in the AL is the newly acquired Troy Tulowitzki of Toronto. Of the other AL shortstops, his .916 OPS is followed next by Xavier Bogaerts of Boston at .761.
Do you want to compare him to famous Houston Astro prodigies? Probably the top two players at such a tender age were Larry Dierker who debuted on his 18th birthday and Cesar Cedeno who came up as a 19 year old.
Through his age 20 year, Dierker had compiled a 23-22 cumulative record and an ERA of 3.30 in 441.2 innings pitched. Of course his early over-use including 305 innings at the age of 22 has been blamed for his shortened career and retirement at the age of 30. Cedeno hit very well in his 90 game call-up at 19 (.310 average, .790 OPS, 46 runs, 7 HR, 42 RBI) and in his age 20 full year (.264 average, .690 OPS, 85 runs, 10 HR, 82 RBI) and was a George Springer in the outfield. Granted that was a different era for hitting and the Astrodome was a black hole to hit in during the early 70’s. Still Correa has shown so much power at such an early age and such a good bat that he seems to be in a class by himself. He has been as good or better than any Astro who played at such an early age and he has done it while playing great at the toughest position on the field.
Now if you want to compare Correa to Hall of Fame shortstops of the not so distant past, he still stands out. Robin Yount came up at 18 and survived at an early age, but his first few years were pretty pedestrian or worse (.250 average, .622 OPS) (.267 average, .674 OPS) and as a 20 year old (.252 average, .593 OPS). He did not hit the 12th HR in his career until his third season and he did not hit double digit home runs until he turned 24.
How about Barry Larkin? Well first of all he was still at the University of Michigan at age 20, but got up to the majors for a cup of coffee by the time he was 22. His first significant playing time was when he was 23 and he put up .244 average, .678 OPS, 12 home runs, 43 RBIs in 125 games.
What about the Captain, Derek Jeter? Well when he was 20 he was whipping up through the minors from A+ to AA to AAA posting a cumulative .344 average, .410 OBP, .873 OPS but only five home runs and 68 RBIs. He got a short stay at the majors at 21, but was a star the next season with the Yanks with a .314 average, .800 OPS, 10 home runs, 78 RBIs. As brilliant as he was, Jeter topped out with 24 HRs and 102 RBIs when he turned 25.
Maybe we are seeing someone like the great Ernie Banks, who hit 44 home runs and knocked in 117 RBIs at age 24 and then put up two MVP seasons a few years later (47 home runs, 129 RBIs) and (45 home runs, 143 RBI).
The point is that YIE, but…. we may be witnessing a player for the ages blooming in front of our eyes at an age that he would need a false ID to buy an $8 beer at the ball park.