There is a point during the Mel Brooks classic, “Spaceballs”, where the bad guys space ship led by Colonel Sandurz and Dark Helmet are getting ready to chase down Lone Starr, Barf and Princess Vespa. At first they are going to ramp up to light speed, but it is then decided that this is not fast enough and instead they crank it up to ludicrous speed….. And then they have to stop which sends them crashing around the cabin.
How does this relate to the 2017 Houston Astros? Well they had been rattling along at a strong pace fueled mostly by a balanced lineup that seemed impervious to a real team slump. And this had produced great results as they were the best team in their division, their league and all of baseball at 31-16. But then they decided to step it up to ludicrous speed and rolled through a 10 game winning streak that pushed them to 41-16. Lately, a combination of starting pitching injury, relief pitching weariness and a return to earth by the hitters has sent them crashing down to a still “best in baseball” 44-22 record.
But this is not about the recent negatives surrounding the team. This is about the three Astros who are leading the All Star voting at their positions – CF George Springer, 2B Jose Altuve and SS Carlos Correa. Yes, it can be argued that they are not clearly the three best everyday teammates in baseball. The Yankees with some combination of wunderkind Aaron Judge, Matt Holiday, Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro could make the same claim. But it should be noted that the Astros three-some do cover both middle infield positions and CF, which gets a slight nod over CF, RF and DH or 2B.
Without doing extensive research, (please, be our guest) there is a good chance this is the first time the Astros have led the All-Star voting at three positions with the ASG looming next month. And in different ways all three players are deserving. (All stats are entering Wednesday night’s game).
Springer. George has an infectious all-star attitude and numbers to back it up , especially being top 10 with 48 runs scored, 18 HRs and 41 RBIs. His slash line of .275 BA / .347 OBP / .884 OPS is solid as a rock too.
Correa. Young Carlos after a poor April has been climbing the hill towards the top producers. His book end 41 runs scored and 41 RBIs are both top 10 in the AL and his slash line of .293 / .366 / .879 is on the edge of great.
Altuve. Jose has spoiled us so much that some may think of this as a “down” season. He probably won’t put up 25 HRs again, but with this lineup he does not need to do that. That .312 / .381 / .877 line will fly anywhere and paired with 40 runs scored, 11 SBs and 15 doubles (which have become 17 doubles by the 5th inning tonight) he is a premier producer at second base.
The Astros have a lot more balance to the lineup these days, but these three pistons are the key to this motor. They give the Astros one of the most imposing and consistent top of the lineups in baseball.