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.