Does it seem possible that SS Carlos Correa has been in the Astros organization for parts of seven seasons? The word “parts” may be the most significant word in that particular sentence. Obviously, he only played a part of the 2012 season after being drafted overall in early June of 2012. He was only 17 at the time and played okay in 50 games at rookie ball.
In 2013 he played very well in a full season at A ball with 9 HRs, 86 RBIs and an excellent slash line of .320 BA/ .405 OBP/ .872 OPS. In 2014, the injury bug bit hard as he broke his leg sliding at the end of June cutting short a promising season at A+ Lancaster where he had 50 runs scored and 57 RBIs in only 62 games.
This did not slow him down in 2015, when he tore up AA early in the season, played so-so at AAA before being promoted to the big time, where in 99 games he earned Rookie of the Year honors with 22 HRs and 68 RBIs and was a catalyst on a surprise Astros’ playoff team.
In 2016 he played basically the whole season but regressed in performance a tad, which is to say, at 21 he put up as good of a season as a Houston shortstop has ever put up, but not quite an extension of 2015.
In 2017, he was an All Star and cranked out great numbers in 109 games as an injury (a torn up thumb while sliding) cut into his season. His missed a chunk of time bridging July, August and early September and took a while to find his bat again, but he did and helped lead the team to the franchise’s first World Championship.
In 2018, he started off hot in April and then slumped in May before steadying his hitting in June. But June is when he went down with a back injury that he either a) Never fully recovered from or b) Learned bad habits compensating for. He had gone from one of the best offensive SS’s in the game to a below average one by season’s end.
The thing about Carlos is that people like me take his partial seasons like 2015 and 2017 and extrapolate what could be. If you take his numbers for 2017 over 162 games you are looking at someone with 121 runs, 35 HRs and 124 RBIs even with how much he struggled in September returning from the injury. But the big question with Carlos is will he ever reach his potential? Will he stay healthy enough to do it? Does he have enough of that Jose Altuve — never be satisfied — attitude to become the superstar folks expect? Or will he be this generation’s Cesar Cedeno — good to very good, but never matching that talent?
No matter what anyone thinks about Carlos possibly leaving for free agency when he is eligible, it is important to remember that he is under team control through arbitration or through any potential deal for three more seasons. That is enough time to leave a legacy or to fall short.
Something else to remember is that at the end of the 2017 season, Correa, when compared to all shortstops who had played 100 or more games in the majors, was ranked thusly:
- .315 BA – 1st
- .394 OBP – 1st
- .941 OPS – 1st
- 82 runs scored – 6th
- 24 HRs – Tied for 5th
- 84 RBIs – 5th
- And that for runs, HRs and RBIs, Correa who only played 109 games was trailing shortstops who had played 140 or more games
In 2018, he was a literal disaster. Again vs. shortstops who had played 100 or more games in the majors he was ranked:
- .239 BA – 25th
- .323 OBP – 14th
- .728 OPS – 15th
- 60 Runs scored – 19th
- 15 HRs – 13th
- 65 RBIs – 13th
It is pretty hard to look at those numbers and not think that his back problems hurt him before and after his trip to the DL. For the cynics among us, there are two potential positives relative to the 2018 performance. First, it may hold down what Correa gets in arbitration a tad or even force him to agree to a 2 year or 3-year contract that buys out his arbitration. Second, the next three years he should be highly motivated if money is really what drives him as he will be likely playing for a good arbitration ruling after 2019 and 2020 and for a mega-contract after 2021.
So, what does the future hold? Well, one way to look at Correa’s Astros’ career is that he has only played 471 games for them in his first 3 1/2 years with the team. If he played an average of 157 games the next three years he could match that total. So he may only be halfway through it. And if he can play that many games in a healthy manner he could return to the 2015/2017 version of Correa and be one of the best young SS’s in the majors. The expectation is that if he did that, this team might return and grab the brass ring one more time or beyond.
But as that great philosopher Rick Blaine once said in a northwest African café, “We’ll always have Paris.” The 2018 season and championship and the performance players like Correa cranked out can never be taken away from us.