The results are in: Final ChipalattAwards for 2018

It’s taken a little time and distance to be able to judge this previous season and hand out awards to our Astros for a season that came up short.  As always, this is one person’s opinion and all other voices are welcome.

Best Everyday. Alex Bregman.
An easy pick as Alex led in most offensive categories for the year for this team. He was first in runs (105), doubles (51), HRs (31), RBIs (103), OBP (.394) and OPS (.926) all while walking (96) times, far more than he struck out (85). Now if we can get him to not poke the opponent on social media during the playoffs….

Runner-up. Yuli Gurriel.
He was a quiet force on the team and was best with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP) .403 BA/.419 OBP/ 1.052 OPS and even better with two outs and RISP – .407/.439/1.179. In only 136 games he had 33 doubles, 13 HRs and 85 RBIs. Now if he could bear down with zero and one outs…….

Best Starting Pitcher. Justin Verlander.
The only category that he was not outstanding in was the category he could not control – wins and losses. He could easily have had close to 25 wins with just a modicum of support. He led the starters in wins (16), ERA (2.52), WHIP (0.902), Innings (214) and Ks (290) and is a finalist for the Cy Young award. And he gets to be a dad soon…

Runner-up. Gerrit Cole.
Just like Cole was a small step behind JV for best starter, Charlie Morton was a small step behind Cole for runner-up. Cole was a terrific pick-up for the Astros posting a 15-5 record with a 2.88 ERA, 1.033 WHIP, and 276 Ks in 200.1 IP. There was not a better 1-2 combo in the majors than Verlander and Cole.

Best Relief Pitcher. Ryan Pressly.
Pressly went from the “other” guy picked up at the trade deadline to a wipe-out weapon coming out of the Astros’ bullpen. In 27 games he had a 1-0 record with 2 saves along with a microscopic 0.77 ERA and tinier WHIP of 0.600. He was nearly untouchable down the stretch for the team.

Runners-up. Tie – Collin McHugh and Roberto Osuna.
McHugh proved to be one of the best “team” guys out there as he went to the bullpen after starting his whole career with the Astros and was dominant with a little tail off at the end of the season. He pitched in 58 games and was 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA and a 0.912 WHIP over 72.1 innings. Osuna came in and quietly pitched well with a 2-2 record and 12 saves in 23 appearances. He had a 1.99 ERA and a terrific 0.882 WHIP.

Most Improved Player. Tyler White.
The Great White went from an injury call-up to the every day DH with a very solid performance in 66 games. He put up a .276 BA/.354 OBP/ .888 OPS slash with 12 doubles, 12 HRs and 42 RBIs.

Runner-Up. Alex Bregman.
He probably should have won this category, but just trying to spread the wealth and Chippies around. At 24 years old he put up a great season that was better than his very good 2017 and left room for more improvement as he had another slow start before hitting his stride.

Biggest Surprise. Tony Kemp.
In two previous shots at the big time, Kemp had been very unimpressive. This time when he got the call-up he immediately hit the ground running, the plate hitting and the field defending big time. His numbers slid a bit towards the end of the season but were still a solid .263/ .351/ .743 with 37 runs, 15 doubles, 6 HRs and 30 RBIs in 97 games.

Runner-Up. Tony Sipp.

OK, Tony was not asked to pitch in too many high leverage situations, but after two seasons of terrible pitching, he gave them 54 appearances with a 3-1 record a 1.86 ERA and a 1.034 WHIP. He performed exactly as they needed in his likely last season with the Astros.

Rookie of the Year. Tie – Framber Valdez and Josh James.
They got here by two separate paths as Valdez walked tons of people, but was not hit by many with his big ball movement and James combined a 100+ fastball with a very effective changeup. James was 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 6 games and showed well in the postseason, while Valdez was 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 8 games with the big club.

Most Disappointing. Carlos Correa.
And certainly the way the Astros work (see Dallas Keuchel – 2016) Carlos could easily have been more injured than everyone let on before and after his DL stint, But until more information is coming forth on that we will blame Carlos himself in melting down from a top notch SS to a so-so SS in 2018.

Runner-Up. Tie – Josh Reddick and Ken Giles.
Josh played hard, but still nose-dived from 2017 in almost every category worth tracking – BA (.314 down to .242), OBP (.363 to .318), OPS (.847 to .718), runs (77 to 63), doubles (34 to 13!!), RBIs (82 to 47). Oh, he did hit 4 more HRs – big whoop.

Giles had a very good 2017 regular season, a very rough post-season and a total melt-down during the 2018 regular season that climaxed(?) (what verb should I use for hitting bottom here) with him cussing out his manager, being sent to the minors and then to the Blue Jays in mid-season.

There were plenty of guys who fell off in 2018, like Brian McCann (age and knees) and we could have thrown Kyle Tucker under the bus here for a terrible start to his career, but patience in waiting out Bregman’s and George Springer’s crummy starts to their respective careers proves we should give young K-Tuck a little latitude here.

Top Coach. Brent Strom.

Yes, he had some great material to work with, but the Astros’ pitching coach produced the top rotation and the top bullpen in the majors (at least by ERA….). Just remember that a lot of this “top” material was not that top before he took them under his wing. Cole was coming off a mediocre year in Pittsburgh, Morton off a below average career, McHugh off the scrap heap like Will Harris and Tony Sipp and they all to differing degrees flourished here. He is 70 years old and the Astros need to clone him or at least find out where he gets his pine tar supply…..

Now it is your turn. Any awards for the season? Any disagreements with the awards above? Let it rip.


70 comments on “The results are in: Final ChipalattAwards for 2018

  1. On the most disappointing, I have to give runner up to Stassi. Don’t know if he just doesn’t have it, or if the pitchers don’t like his pitch calling, but he went out of sight by the end of the year. And we needed him to step up and into at least a backup role for 2019. And I give an honorable mention to Perez as a Rookie. He did not log many innings, but looked great for first few batters each time. But he needs to switch diets with Tyler White this off season.


  2. I’m going to give Cionel Perez a pass, also.
    He’s a tandem starter in CC all year and gets called to the majors and gets thrown into the bullpen in a pennant chase. Then he gets sent to Fresno, where he’s never played and has four short relief appearances and gets called back up to the majors where he sits in the bullpen for two weeks without pitching. Then he gets two short appearances late in the season and gets sent home.
    A weird way to treat one of your top prospects, especially one of your only LHP prospects.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going to argue with you on your best reliever choice. Collin McHugh pitched all year for the Astros. He threw 72 innings for Houston and he didn’t throw any innings for any other team. In 72 innings he gave up only 45 hits and 16 earned runs, a 1.99 ERA for the entire season.
    The vast majority of innings that McHugh pitched were the 7th and 8th innings so he was used in critical situations.
    I can’t give best reliever to a guy who pitched only 23 innings for the Astros, no matter how good he was.
    I’m going to give best reliever to a guy who was great for the entire season.


    • I really don’t have a problem giving it to McHugh – he was great for a bigger chunk o f the season, though I did think Pressly helped settle them down after a period of shaky bullpen work as did Osuna. No problem either way.


  4. Yeah – I did not name a runner-up rookie of the year, but if I did it would be Cionel. Not sure what their plans are for him, but he did a good job in a weird role.
    What is weird about Stassi is that early in the year he was hitting well and seemed to be catching OK – but when he had to catch more with McCann down he seemed to get exposed behind the plate and either his hitting went south with that or his real hitting appeared. I guess I was not that disappointed in him – I really did not have high hopes for him coming into the season.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. – The Lost and Found Award goes to Tony Sipp for getting lost for two years and then showing up when it’s time for a new contract.
    -The Not Going Out in Style Award goes to Brian McCann.
    -The Just Be Yourself Award goes to Jake Marisnick for his normal performance.
    -The Waitress’s Favorite Award goes to Alex Bregman.
    -The Rub It In Award goes to JD Martinez.
    -The We Need More Cameras Award goes to Jose Altuve.
    -The I Must Go Now Award goes to Dallas Keuchel.
    -The You Didn’t Know I Could Hit It That Far Award goes to Miles Straw.
    -The I Hate California Income Tax Award goes to Justin Verlander.
    -The I Can’t Keep Up With All These Sign Changes Award goes to Martin Maldonado.
    -The I Feel Like 1oldpro Award goes to Carlos Correa.
    -The Thanks Alot, Tyler White, Award goes to Evan Gattis.
    -The That Pitch is Too High Award goes to Tony Kemp.
    -The Need to Outlaw Breaking Pitches Award goes Marwin Gonzalez.
    -The I Don’t Need No Stinking Pine Tar Award goes to Gerrit Cole.
    -The I’ve Got Two Good Years Left In Me Award goes to Yuli Gurriel.
    -The I’ve Got Two More Pairs of Spandex Award goes to Josh Reddick.
    -The I Love Brett Strom Award Goes to Ryan Pressly.
    -The They’re Not Supposed to Hit My Changeup Award goes to Chris Devenski.
    -The Forearm Discomfort Award goes to LMJ.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Love it old pro…..inspires me to a few more….
      – The “Self-Punching” award goes to Ken Giles
      – The “Jose Altuve Makes Me Feel Tall” award goes to Tony Kemp
      – The “Its Time” award goes to Joe West
      – The “Last Guy Out, Please Turn Out the Lights” award goes to Jeff Luhnow
      – The “Married Life Did Wonders for My Game” award goes to Justin Verlander
      – The “Engaged Life Did Not Do So Good For Me” award goes to Carlos Correa
      – The “Stare” award goes to Alex Bregman

      Liked by 5 people

  6. this year, as in years past, the only award that counts here is the Dan P iron man award. simple explanation. no dan = no blog. thanks from all of us dan for keeping the blog interesting, current and not making us wait too long between posts.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. i see where cleveland is making some of their top of the line pitching available. i wouldnt mind seeing kluber in an astros uni, but it would take a haul to get him and he will be 33 in april, so unless they can get him for less of a prospect haul than i think it will take, we should pass. we have lots of young pitching that looks like the real deal, lets find out if they are. i do think it would be wise to sign a good veteran starter to help take up innings because even if our younger guys work out they probably wont be able to get too near 200 innings each. better if it was a fa guy thats cost $ but no prospects. at least not james, framber or cionel. i also want too see whats up with martes.


    • I’ve been sounding off about Sonny Grey for 2-3 yrs. The Yankees only want you to stay there if you go 21-1 for the year. I knew as soon as they got Sonny, it was not going to be successful. BUT….that’s the Yankees for you. He would literally THRIVE here with Verlander on one side of him and the “Cole Train” on the other side of him!!


    • Interesting list. Many of us have been clamoring for Gray and Cahill for a few years. Richards is a risk…I can’t see Luhnow going down that path. Pomeranz, in my opinion, would be a home run. Based on my recent evaluations of guys who starred at the NCAA level that’s probably a big red flag. I have always liked Hellickson, but someone made a really compelling argument why he would be a bad fit in Houston last offseason and sold me on it. The thing is we just went through a season where we called the 2015 Cy Young winner our #5 starter. Any of those guys slotted in at #4 or #5 would make this a pretty fearsome rotation.


  8. Am I the only one who saw Dallas Keuchel on Fox business this morning??
    My husband was watching Fox business when Varney has Keuchel on talking about a liner that he wears under his cap, that absorbs sweat. He is in business with these guys and have already made a million dollars with this company. I’m pretty sure some of our guys used it during this year as well. Pretty interesting.
    Stewart Varney asked him about the rumors with the Yankees interest in him and he was non committal. Varney teased him about the beard, and Keuchel said he’d shave it today for the right money! Kinda pulled at my heart a little thinking that I’ll never see him pitch for us anymore. So hear goes:
    The “I want the kind of deal Correa got to sell Adidas” so I don’t have to pitch until I’m 40 deal!!

    P.S. Ask Brent Strom how much money he wants to stay in Houston…forever!


    • And speaking of pitching coaches, here is a quote from the legendary Art Fowler.

      “If running is so important, Jesse Owens would be a 20-game winner. And the only reason I don’t like to run is that it makes me tired.”— Fowler, 1957

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it was his comments regarding Marwin and Morton not being given the qualifying offer that sold me on Keuchel leaving town. I’d like him to stay and don’t mind the Astros overpaying him, but it just sounded like he’s already rationalized/justified the move to himself. If I were in his place I’d listen to every offer on the table though – I don’t begrudge him that.


  9. Dan, I can’t argue with any of your awards. I think you nailed it. I understand the argument for McHugh as RP and I would still agree with you if you had gone that way.

    Osuna really impressed me. After missing half of the season he came right in and flashed dominance, despite a very short ramp- up period and despite the fact that virtually all appearances were in very high leverage situations as we fought for a pennant. I look forward to what he can do in a full season.

    The three rookies that took the mound this year were also impressive. Framber, JJ and Perez all have a future in this league. Framber has the kind of stuff most pitchers only dream about. A lot of his control problems are due to the massive movement on all of his pitches. His 2- seamer really dances and his 3 breaking balls break violently. If he can learn to harness the movement he will be a stud. James has got some right out gas! His slider is devastating and both his curve and changeup are serviceable. Which brings us to Perez. I just watched some video of him from this season and I gotta tell you this kid has it all. His FB is live and his his breaking stuff is nasty. There are questions as to whether he can start in this league (size/ durability), but I don’t see it. The kid is smoooooth to the plate with an effortless delivery. I think all three have front of the rotation potential. Add these three to the army of arms coming up behind them and the Astros are in great shape going forward.

    When I go through the pitching prospects it is almost an embarrassment of riches. We have already dealt away some nice arms and we are still loaded at every level. There is a logjam building that will slow movement through the ranks. We have some nice trade chips that we can play without causing any real pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like conspiracy theories, so here is one. Originally Perez was brought up to be a spot starter. When he did well initially, but then ran out of gas the FO chose to try Framber. They saw no need for another lefty in the pen this past year because Sipp was doing OK or better.

    And my second theory is that for some reason Devo has not been sent to Winter ball for two years to try to learn a 3rd pitch. So maybe the Astros thought they ruined him back in 2016.


    • I don’t follow the comments on Devo. He has three pitches that work at the major league level when he can locate. The problem was all last year we saw guys taking the fastball and slider (which both ran/fell out of the zone) and then teeing off on the change ups they knew were coming.


  11. So Luhnow hired Bokhari from the Dodgers to replace Fast. In the meantime, Ryan Hallahan is also transitioning off the analytics team and away from the Astros. Gelles comes from the Orioles, whose recent history isn’t exactly stellar. There are several internal promotions in the works. Now my first amateur question is this: Why would you hire from a team you’ve already beaten in the World Series (Dodgers)? My amateur logic would tell me to hire from a team that beat us (BoSox) and robbed us Bonnie and Clyde blind of personnel. I’m haunted by the ridiculousness of rooting for any particular team if we’re just moving chess pieces around. When you said whistling in the wind, you nailed it.


    • My theory in analytics is that you retain everything that the old guard brought to the team and installed into your system. When the old guard gets hired away, you hire new, brilliant people with new ideas to come in and add to your system.
      Retain everything and keep adding to it.
      I liken it to a company having a great product, but they buy another company with a different great product and now they have two great products to deliver.


    • Diane, my question is what you think Boston has that is of any value for us to plummet? They were close to beating us in 2017 before going out and acquiring JDM, Mitch Moreland, and Edwardo Nunez at a total cost of $130M in salary commitments. They lost no one important, but hired away our bench coach to manage their team (quite successfully). Basically, they are using brute force the way the Yankees used to. Consider their previous offseason where they payed handsomely for Sale and Kimbrel as well.

      That won’t work for Houston. We already saw that guys like David Robertson and Andew Miller wouldn’t sign in Houston. Houston has to play it smart.


      • Devin, although I don’t know “background” personnel, I would assume since they’ve won 4 WS in last, what, 15 years that Somebody Up There likes somebody up there, and maybe we should too. At the very least, we can hire Cora back.


      • I’d jump at the chance to bring Cora back, but I’m not sure how we could do that. Perhaps it is jealousy, but it bothers me the way the Red Sox can take on exorbitant contracts (like Carl Crawford or Pedro Sandoval) that don’t pan out…but keep on handing out those same contracts every other year.

        I’m very impressed with what David Stearns and the Brewers have accomplished as well.


  12. Some things to think about as we wait for the Hot Stove to heat up:
    -Strong up the middle: catcher, pitcher, SS, 2B and CF. We are missing only 1 of that scenario.
    -Top of your rotation: The Astros have as good of a TOR as there is in baseball.
    -Strong at the corners: The Astros have an All-Star at 3B, and an above average hitter at 1B, who is not a defensive wiz over there, but is improving with experience. They are weak in LF power-wise and weak in RF in the batting order.
    -They have a weak hitting bench. Stassi and Marisnick are terrible pinch hitters and they have no LH candidates for that position who are proven threats.
    -Verlander, Cole, Smith, Rondon, Pressly, McHugh and Harris are scheduled for free agency after this season. All those minor league arms are precious. How the organization views their future MLB projections is vital to what the Astros want to do this year, because they are going to need a bunch of those arms from 2020 onward.


  13. Thks for that posting Sargeh, I forgot to do so. Also read CC had some kind of surgery (sumpter something) he had difficulty breathing at plate according to the article I read


  14. What the Astros were willing to give up for Bryce for a rental maybe surely should give us hope for a strong run at Realmuto. Hot Stove will be very interesting for this tm I think

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There are many ways to go to handle this coming season’s roster.
    This one I’m featuring now is one that guts the farm, runs the payroll up to $200 million for the next three years and ignores the current roster completely for now and the next three years.
    It’s pretty much the roster designed by a guy who is willing to spend all the money and assets the Astros have accumulated over the last three years and if something bad happens this year, you’re screwed.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Back in 2017, as the Mariners were fading fast, I predicted the they had spent and traded themselves into a hole that they wouldn’t be able to dig themselves out of.
    Their payroll was above what their TV rights and attendance could sustain and I predicted that they would have to make drastic moves.
    As Paxton continued to master us, I named him as the guy the Astros needed to get. Their GM continued to gut their farm but used up another year of King Felix and Cruz and Paxton, while facing five more years of Cano starting in 2019. Now, here we are:
    There are so many good players available right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only question on trading with Seattle is what does Dipoto want? He may want Kemp and a guy in A ball. He may want Altuve, Correa, and Bregman plus a starting pitcher. I never understand his trades but he doesn’t need my approval anyway.


  17. We probably don’t stand a chance of trading for him……the Spankees, are in on him too. I wonder what went south with Sonny Grey and that team in New York.
    We have this pitching Guru who would love to get both of those guys on this team! Paxton would be an *awesome* addition! I still think Josh James will bring it next year! LORD…..he throws 102 mph!! What’s not to like!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I liked Sonny Gray too, back in the day. I’d say let’s give Becky her shot, but those damn Yankees are going to want a return on their asset, even though it has diminished in value. And he would still have to pitch on that big stage in the Bronx wearing an Astro uniform.

    I love Paxton, but are we willing to take 25 starts a year?

    The Nerd Cave is getting flooded with applications right now. We’ll have plenty of new bright minds to absorb the losses, providing strange new absurd ideas that will become the norm before we’re gone.

    Poor Dave Hudgens. He’s taken a beating here. But he’s already landed on his feet. And for the new guy here, what a great situation, inheriting a great batch of bats, most coming off an off year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The first thing we can offer the Yankees is that by selling us Sonny Gray it improves the chances the Red Sox will not win the World Series again.

      I’d be happy with 25 Paxton starts as long as he can pitch well in September and October. My only concern is what we have to surrender.

      I’ve spent years tossing barbs at Hudgens. Here’s the real question in my mind though – how adaptable are Altuve, Correa, Springer, etc? I feel like we have seen Bregman change his approach at times to great reward. The other guys scare me a little in the sense that they can get locked in on going after the big fly. All four of the names I mentioned are capable of hitting .350 in a season if they so desire. Will they work with the hitting coach or is he there to retrieve video tape for them?

      Liked by 3 people

  19. what are folks thoughts on the offer they made for bryce harper at the trade deadline? it might have helped us push through the playoffs. but regardless of the outcome, harper would be gone (unless signed to an expensive fa contract) and we would be without bukauskus, stubbs and another prospect. thats a dad gummed stiff price to pay for a rental unless you win it all and even then it hurts for awhile.


    • It tells me a lot:
      1. The Astros were very hamstrung by injuries to Altuve and Correa, and they knew it and they didn’t want this trade public until after the playoffs, because it showed their apparent desperation with their hitting.
      2. Stubb’s value is there. The Nationals agreed, though the Astros might not. I’m not sure the Astros are very good at analyzing the catcher position. They have no history of developing a good catcher and keeping him for years at that position. Biggio was the best and he ended up as a 2B.
      3. The Nationals were desperate to keep Harper long-term to turn this deal down. Now, if he doesn’t resign with them, they get a pick at the end of the fourth round, because they were over the spending level.
      4. The Astros have very good pitching prospects, if they were willing to part with JBB for a Harper rental.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. My thought is that Luhnow was allegedly willing to pull the string on a bat that might have helped us win it all in 2018. And except for Reddick, I think the whole dugout would have been pumped. I’m good with that. And it tells me that significant things will happen this winter. Can we fully rule out Harper this time around?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. And in other news:

    Mariners director of high performance Lorena Martin, who was hired into her role just over one year ago, has leveled serious charges against key figures in the Seattle baseball operations department in an Instagram post. The team responded by denying her allegations in a statement.

    The should have hired Jon Singleton. He has a lot more experience.


    • These types of situations can be so touchy and difficult. In my job in management I’ve been involved with situations that were real legitimate complaints and others that were poor employees, who had been released for legitimate cause and were fishing for a lottery ticket from a legal standpoint.


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