Part of savoring the Houston Astros World Championship is savoring the many awards coming to our local nine. Some folks get amped up over the MLB MVP, Cy Young or Manager of the Year Awards. But here at Chip’s corner of the world, what everyone is holding their breaths on is the announcement of the first annual 2017 ChipalattAwards. So without further adieu….
Best Everyday. Jose Altuve
Jose was the little engine that could…kick butt. Not only is he the best player on the Astros – he was the best player in baseball this season. In the AL, he was 1st in BA (.346) and hits (204), 3rd in OBP (.410), OPS (.957), SBs (32) and tied for 2nd with George Springer in runs scored (112). To date the two greatest players 5’-6” and shorter are two Hall of Famers, Hack Wilson and Wee Willie Keeler, but Altuve may overshadow them both by the time he is done.
Runner-up. Carlos Correa
You don’t have to squint too hard to see that CC was one hand injury away from an awesome 115 R, 35 HR, 115 RBI season for the Astros. His .315 BA/.391 OBP/.941 OPS was impressive as is the fact that he is a shortstop who just turned 23.
Best Starting Pitcher. Brad Peacock
Yes, I know he made a few less starts than the runners-ups, but his renaissance was impactful to the team. As a starter he was 10-2 with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.218 WHIP and a 10.9 K/9 IP. He flipped over from a highly effective set-up man to a very dependable starter when the team could have gone off the injury cliff.
Sorry – I wish I could give this to Justin Verlander, but it was only five starts.
Tough to pick between Morton’s 14-7 record, 3.62 ERA and 1.193 WHIP in 25 starts and 146.2 IP and Keuchel’s 14-5 record, 3.79 ERA, 1.119 WHIP in 23 starts and 145.2 IP. The Astros needed a good year from DK after his poor/injury plagued year and they needed Morton to come in and be a solid pitcher with Collin McHugh out and they got both.
Best Relief Pitcher. Ken Giles
This is for regular season performance and it was a very good one by Giles. He was 34 of 38 in save opportunities with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.037 WHIP. He only gave up 4 HRs in 62.6 IPs and he put up a strong 11.9 K/9 IPs. He was one of the top 5 closers during the regular season…in the post season? Not so much.
Runner-up. Chris Devenski
He was up and down at times this season, but Devo had an 8-5 record with 4 saves, a 2.68 ERA and .942 WHIP in a stout 80.6 IPs. Like Giles he was shaky in the post season, but he was critical to the team getting there and perhaps these kids will grow from their first time in the national spotlight.
Most Improved Player. Marwin Gonzalez
To properly judge his improvement, please realize that MarGo’s 2016 stats (.254 BA/.293 OBP/.694 OPS/13 HR/51 RBIs) were only slightly better than Carlos Beltran‘s 2017 stats (.238/.283/.666/14 HR/51 RBIs). Marwin had a magical year in 2017 with a .303/.377/.907 slash and a career high 23 HR and a club leading 90 RBIs. Helping to lead to this improvement, his K rate went down from 22.8 to 19.2% and his BB rate soared up from 4.3 to a 9.5% rate.
Runner-Up. Josh Reddick
Reddick had been a solid player for a number of years, but his performance reached another level in 2017. He set career bests with .314 BA/.363 OBP/.847 OPS 34 doubles and second best for runs scored (77) and RBIs (82)
Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde. Joe Musgrove
Joe began the season as a very poor starting pitcher – 4-8 record, 6.12 ERA, 1.513 WHIP and 1.84 HRs given up per 9 IPs. This led to him losing his rotation spot, but allowed him to shine in the bullpen. As a reliever he posted a 3-0 record with 2 saves, a 1.44 ERA, 0.862 WHIP and a 0.57 HRs/ 9 IPs. He looked like a whole new pitcher in his new role.
Biggest Surprise. Brad Peacock
Straight out, if Collin McHugh had been able to start the season, Peacock would have been the odd man out and that might have included being DFA’d or traded. But he started the season with the big club and helped them in every way imaginable from the ‘pen and the rotation. Coming into the season in portions of 5 seasons he had pitched in 60 games with 46 starts. He had a 11-17 record that matched his 4.58 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 7.89 K/9IPs. But in 2017 with health, opportunity and a new slider thanks to Jordan Jankowski he was brilliant. His 13-2 record, 3.00 ERA, 1.189 WHIP and a huge 11 K/9IPs all sang out what a great asset he was for the Astros.
Heart of the Team. Tie: George Springer and Brian McCann
On many teams, Springer’s terrific year (.283/.367/.889 with 112 R/34 HR/85 RBIs) would have been the MVP for the team. But George could give a darn. He goes out there and plays his butt off in the field and at bat and then leads the cheerleading for all his best buds on the team (which is the whole team). He is infectious and now that I am used to him leading off, I am never going to complain about him being there.
It says a ton about McCann’s importance that he was put out there behind the plate throughout the playoffs. Sure, he is slower than your grandma on the bases, but it says here that he was the most important veteran leader brought in during the off-season.
Biggest Shot in the Arm. Justin Verlander
If you want to point at the moment the Astros believed they could go all the way, it was waking up September 1 with a brand new ace under the Labor Day tree…. Verlander did the absolute maximum you could ask of a pitcher down the stretch, winning all 5 of his starts with a 1.06 ERA, 0.647 WHIP and bringing a bulldog attitude to the team. His demeanor when being squeezed on the strike zone was impressive. His answer to a bad call was an even better pitch at 97 mph. He gave the fans a big shot in the arm too.
Runner-up. Alex Bregman
At one point in the season, Bregman was being mentioned as a trade chip and as someone who could neither hit or field well enough to hold 3B long term. He then shrugged and turned it on in the second half of the season. After the All-Star Break he was impressive with a .315/.367/.903 slash, 48 runs scored, 11 HRs, 44 RBIs and 9 SBs. Plus, by the time the post season came around he looked like the best fielder on the Astros’ infield.
Rookie of the Year. Yuli Gurriel
By MLB rules, a rookie can not have exceeded 130 at bats and 33 year old Yul Gurriel had exactly 130 ABs in 2016. He never had a shot at the AL ROY award with one Aaron Judge tearing up the world in NYC. But he was easiest the top rookie here in Houston as he brought stability to 1B with a .299BA/.332 OBP/.817 OPS, 43 doubles, 18 HRs and 75 RBIs.
Unexpected Stat Leader. J.D. Davis
And the team leader with 16.2 K/9 IP was…. 3B Davis who struck out 3 and gave up 0 runs in 1.2 IPs this season.
Mr. Maligned. Mike Fiers
No, I’m not asking anyone to bring Mike back for 2018, but I did want to point out that the righty who put up a bad 5.22 ERA in his 28 starts this season was not all bad. He led the team with those 28 starts and with 153.1 IPs during the season. More important, when the team needed him most, when they were struggling with injuries to all the other starting pitchers, his numbers in June and July were 5-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 10 starts. When everyone else returned he crashed, but by then it could be absorbed by the rest of the rotation.
Now it is your turn. Any awards for the season? Any disagreements with the awards above? Let it rip.