Who will be the Astros’ top position player in 2019?


The Houston Astros have been one of the most talented teams in baseball over the last few years. Their best position players have been young, but not always healthy, which is why this is an intriguing question entering 2019. Who will be their top position player in the upcoming season?

The answer to this question is likely to come from one of four players, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. This is not meant as an insult to Michael Brantley who could easily slip into this top four, but at 32 he would probably only be the best if the health wheels come off of all four of the other folks on this list.

Alex Bregman

Bregman did everything but drive the team bus in 2018. He led the Astros in runs (105), doubles (51), HRs (31), RBIs (103), OBP (.394) and OPS (.926) while walking (96) more times than he struck out (85). If there was any complaint about him last season it was that he started relatively slowly (hey lots of guys wish they had a .741 OPS in their worst month), but when the team needed him during a second half that saw injuries to the other three best players, he carried the team.

Prognosis. Some of the stat geeks are predicting some regression for young Alex, Here we look at his unlucky .286 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) in 2018 and think he will be only better in 2019. (.305 BA / .405 OBP / .950 OPS / 110 runs / 35 HRs / 115 RBIs)

Jose Altuve

What a slacker that Altuve is. After winning the AL MVP in 2017, he slides to a fairly quiet 2018 and the excuse is that he plays the last two months with a knee that requires surgery due to a kneecap fracture and tendon separation. I mean man up, Jose!

There are very few players in baseball who could put up Jose’s kind of numbers (.316 BA / .386 OBP / .837 OPS / 84 runs / 13 HRs/ 61 RBIs) healthy much less on one leg. He put up a 5.4 WAR despite his power and speed numbers dropping off. He turns 29 in May and knowing Jose, he is dying to be Jose 2017 all over again.

Prognosis. Jose will be at least 90% of 2017 Jose, which will put him back near the top of players in the league…..and on this team. (.340 BA/ .392 OBP / .903 OPS / 105 runs / 20 HRs / 88 RBIs)

Carlos Correa

Carlos, who turns 25 this coming September is either on the cusp of a total breakout year or not. (How’s that for straddling the fence) He was terrific in 2017 (.315 BA / .391 OBP/ .915 OPS / 82 runs / 24 HRs / 84 RBIs), and might have won the MVP himself, but only played in 109 games. He played 110 games in 2018 and looked like an old guy with a bad back (.239/.323/.728 / 60 runs / 15 HRs / 65 RBIs). He was a young guy with a bad back and was down in almost every category except strikeouts.

So, two questions. Can Correa play 150 games in 2019? Can he play them like the best SS in baseball he was in 2017? If the answer is yes to both the Astros may have a new best player in 2019.

Prognosis. Carlos will be back to a very good version of himself. He will also likely miss 20 to 30 games because he does get hurt almost every year. (130 games – .305 BA/ .380 OBP/ .895 OPS / 90 runs / 25 HRs / 85 RBIs)

George Springer

Maybe he doesn’t belong in the same discussion as the other three players, but there have been times (such as the 2017 World Series) where he has been the best player on this club and let’s face it – there are very few teams that could not find a prime spot in the middle of the lineup for Mr. Springer.

George, who turns 30 this September has been relied upon to lead off and lead the offense the last few seasons. His production was down last season (.265 / .346 / .780 / 102 runs / 22 HRs / 71 RBIs) from a fine 2017 due a horrendous mid-season slump and trying to play through a torn up thumb. The big question with George is – can he keep from the over-swinging slumps that keep a star from being a superstar?

Prognosis. George will be George again in 2019. A very good, but not quite a great player. (.280 / .370 / .885 / 110 runs / 28 HRs / 95 RBIs)

Questions for you:

  • Who will be the best position player for the Astros in 2019?
  • What order would you put these four players in for this season?
  • Does Brantley belong in this conversation?
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55 comments on “Who will be the Astros’ top position player in 2019?

  1. Nice to have all these guys. It could be any of them. I hope they are all absolutely fantastic – in the running for MVP of the league But since you ask for a prediction, here are my thoughts:

    AB has historically been a horribly slow starter, so unless he tears it up in April and May for a change, I don’t see him being our ‘top position player’ for 2019. I see him as 3rd from the top.

    Jose’ doesn’t historically tear it up at the start of the season either, but he’s so good at what he does [when he’s healthy] that I have to lean his way. Most likely, the little big man will be our ‘top position player’ in 2019. And that is the way it should be. Tu-u-u-u-u – VEH!

    Correa would have to do something that he’s never done – stay healthy all year long. After last year, when he physically fell apart halfway into the season, I am not counting that happening. I see him as much better than last year, but still last on this list.

    Springer is the one guy who could take the crown from Jose’ [if Jose’ falters somewhere along the way]. Springer starts well, and if he can keep from attracting fastballs to the head, hands, and arms, I think he’s ready for a breakout season. Springer should be the 2nd best position player.

    Regarding Dave’s comment – it is my sincere hope and expectation that Tyler White becomes the top DH in Astros history, starting in 2019 and continuing for the rest of his career. That is certainly doable, as he really doesn’t have much of a bar to surpass.

    Brantley? I hope so, but he hasn’t even worn an Astro uni in a game yet, and what he’s done in other unis, for other teams, means pretty much zilch to me. Let him drive in Bregs, Tuve, Correa, Springer, and a few dozen times by May 31, and we’ll revisit this part of the conversation

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m going to surprise some people and rank them as this:
    1a. Correa
    1b. Bregman
    3. Springer
    4. Altuve

    I believe a fully healthy Correa can win the MVP in a laugher of a contest…he still has that much upside. However, because of our defensive shifts I think Bregman is actually a bit more important on defense than any other third baseman in the league right now. Don’t get me wrong – I still think he has deficiencies – but his assignment is far more difficult than when a guy like Nolan Arenado gets. As to the other two, I really enjoy watching Springer but feel for all the excitement and good things he brings he is always living on edge a bit too much. As for Altuve, I should probably feel bad about saying this, but I don’t value his defense all that highly and don’t know what Altuve we’ll get at the plate. Sometimes his aggressiveness works in our favor and other times we see 6-4-3 on the first pitch or pop-flies to RF with men in scoring position. The big thing is his patience. With Correa and Brantley (expectedly) behind him in the lineup we need him on base more than we need him getting extra base hits. Blasphemy in this age of analytics I suppose.

    Having said that, if the Astros were to have signed Machado or go out and sign Harper I’d rate them a solid #5 on that list of position players. Go ahead and call me a homer.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. News flash – Year 2036 – 10 year old Carlos Correa Jr. just signed a 25 year / $600 million contract with the Mars Redmen of the Interplanetary Baseball league. Correa led his Los Angeles Little League team with a .760 BA and most juice boxes drunk in a season.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just curious as to what kind of numbers – and adds to the team win column – over the next 10 years does everyone here think it will take to cover the cost of $300,000,000?

    I would say MMs individual numbers would have to include [a] starting an average of 140 games a year over the term of the contract, [b] a BA in a Pads uni of .320 or better/year; a Padres Uni OBP of .360 or better; and an average of 35 + HRs and 100 + RBIs each season. Plus, the Pads would need to average winning at least 90 games per season [up a whopping 24 wins from last year’s pitiful 66]. And, of course, the Dodgers, DBacks, Rockies, and Giants, might have something to say about all that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not the right guy for this entirely, but some wags I’ve read claim that 1.0 WAR is worth $8 million – so all Machado has to do is put up about 40.0 WAR to justify his salary (note he has put up about 34 WAR in his 7.5 seasons in the majors). Some thoughts with that:
      – You would think the cost per WAR would go up over time, so that after a while the $30 million a year would seem like a “bargain” if……he is still productive
      – On the other hand what if he gets almost all of that 40 WAR in the first 7 or 8 seasons and then is worth nothing (but still getting $30 million a year) in his last 2 or 3 seasons
      – Or what if he crashes and burns and gets injured and only earns 10 WAR
      – How much farther until some front office does something about the “dead” money …..I think I see a Murder She Wrote episode coming

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      • It’s not cut and dry. 1.0 WAR per $8m is on the free agent market. What it misses is that most players begin their peak before FA and have fewer big years following. Machado may have entered FA at a younger age, but there is a lot of mileage on him (and Harper) thus far. The latter has already had some injury issues. What happens when Machado has to deal with that?

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  5. I think all four guys have slash lines of .310/.400/.500/.900 and share the MVP award, hoist the WS trophy and vow to play together for the rest of their careers.
    I love that Machado is playing for SD in the NL.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Maybe the title to this post should be “Our Billion $$$ Infield.” This begs the question, what position is most important on a team? Most argue SS. So Correa would have the inside track. But health keeps him and Springer a little less of a possibility. I would have to go with our MVP and hope it ends up a photo finish.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 10 yrs. 300 million.??? Greedy little snot.
    Bregman
    Altuve
    Springer
    Correa. …..because I’m not sure of his back.
    I wonder where Keuchel will end up?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There is something else I would like to throw into the mix here. I never liked our old hitting coach. We have two new hitting instructors and I’m hoping they can do a better job getting our players zeroed in at the plate.
    There, I said it.
    I like Altuve as our MVP.
    I like Bregman to make it close.
    I think Correa will come back strong and push the other two and I think Springer will deliver what he always does, which is hot/cold/hot/cold.
    Truth is, I really think this team can be the hitting team they were in 2017. They have that kind of talent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Z – Brantley is a good solid professional hitter who is about to turn 32. His best year in the majors was when he was 27 and he hit .327 with 94 runs scored 20 HRs and 97 RBIs. He’s never beaten those numbers and I think he would have to – to be the best position player this year. But he might be the best 4th or 5th best hitter on any team in the majors

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      • If Brantley gives us the same as last season that would be awesome. It just seems like it’s gonna be hard to beat out the other four guys.

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  9. I won’t discount Brantley, but then again, I won’t try to pick the winner of the TPP competition. I know our guys could care less, as long as they all have a good year. Brantley will be tucked into the best offense he’s ever been a part of. I think he’ll have an excellent year. They might all have a better year than Manny 300. Seriously.

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  10. Machado is an excellent talent. But what I don’t get is that the Padres will likely spend the first 100 or so million on him as they work their way back to contending. Why not wait until on the cusp and then spend for the big gun?

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    • They have a lot of talent in the minor leagues. I don’t think it’s outrageous to expect them to compete in 2020. I don’t see it in 2019…but lots of people didn’t think Houston would do well in 2015 either.

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  11. Crane said Marwin and Keuchel still might join the Astros. I wish the front ffice would clear this up. I would welcome BOTH back in a New York minute. I’ve had *3* doctors app in the last week, this cr*p…is getting to me.😠

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  12. *It’s upsets me no end that the Astros can’t draft and find a starting catcher. If they are so picky about catchers that they keep signing them and then letting them go, why don’t they do a better job of developing one. It seems they know what they want but don’t have the ability to make it happen by themselves.
    *When Josh Reddick appears to be your 8th best hitter, you are a pretty good hitting team.
    * I still think they are missing the boat with not seriously considering Myles Straw to win a spot on this team.
    *I hope Yuli Gurriel has a great year and makes a lot of people eat crow.
    *Already have my DVR set up for the season. Don’t know how long I will be able to live with AT&T raising the price.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve been jumping up and down about the lack of catching for YEARS! They had to give up a good one to Detroit in the Verlander trade. I’m going to get to watch the games on a streaming site called “FUBO”! My son is coming to set it up on Sunday! YAY!!! Did you see Yuli’s hair?? He’s got a new do….and it’s crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Since Jake is getting 2 something million, Straw is going to have to wait, but I don’t really have a problem with that, as he needs to show people he can hit at AAA for awhile, even though we already know Jake can’t hit. Tony Kemp confuses the matter further. I think Kemp’s days are numbered though.

    I’ve moved past Keuchel and Marwin. I think we’ll get more offense out of Diaz. And I think we have enough quality pitching not to have to pay Keuchel even a shorter version of what he is looking for.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Nice little story about Brady Rodgers getting the start in the spring opener as a reward for his hard rehab work and how his teammates were so supportive of that decision.
    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/brady-rodgers-to-start-astros-spring-opener

    Could Rodgers be like a Brad Peacock – a guy who finally got it together, got healthy and got a chance at a more advanced age? Peacock’s breakout season was when he was 29. Rodgers will be 29 next season when the Astros may be in the market for most of a new rotation. Remember Rodgers was the Minor League Pitcher of the Year before having TJ surgery

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  16. Arlo Guthrie popped in again. Here’s what he said was no his mind this off-season:

    I’m not feelin’ spiteful . . .
    I’ve just moved on from Dallas Keuchel.
    & if Marwin gets recycled;
    it’s fine with me, cause we’ve got Michael.
    But I hope those guys make bank;
    ’cause what they’ve done I’m really thank . . . ful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, with Arlo you are never really sure, but I think he meant this was ON his mind instead of ‘no’ his mind. And I think he meant ’cause for what they’ve done’, not ’cause what they’ve done’. But hey – give the guy a pickle, and he’ll ride off on his mo- tersickle.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Harper? I just don’t see that one. Yes, Luhnow decided not to count on Tucker. Wise. So he went out and got a very solid fix for left field, solving a decade long weakness. But I also think that if the Astros do not think Tucker is part of the future, he’d have been traded this winter. So while Luhnow obviously likes Harper, I’d be shocked by that kind of commitment. But then again, so would all of baseball.

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  17. correa is my vote.

    i dont want a keuchel
    but sure would like to see correa hit for the cycle
    and i dont bother to use twitter
    but i sure would like to see verlander and cole throw back to back no hitters

    Liked by 3 people

  18. *Crane answering a question politely about Marwin and Keuchel is not opening the door to anything.
    *All 30 teams in MLB can sign Harper. Answering a question about Harper does not mean the Astros are even thinking about Harper.
    *Rogelio started the 2018 ST opener as a reward for his previous year’s minor league work. It didn’t mean diddly then and Brady Rodger’s start is worth about the same thing now.
    * I think the catcher who gets the most starts for the Astros this coming season will be the catcher that the pitchers want behind the plate.
    *AJ Hinch just pinches himself when he even thinks about Alex Bregman. How lucky can a manager get?
    Josh Reddick at first base? Relax, Josh. Just hit the ball and everything else will take care of itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed 1OP as to catcher. Why this disconnect though: Stassi ranks high in the pitch framing stats, but apparently not high on the list of whom pitchers like to work with? It could mean several things, but personally I think the pitch framing stat is BS.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d like an old fashioned “called a good game” stat. Somewhere, someplace, don’t we have some kind of advanced, obscure metric for that?

        Speaking of pitch framing, didn’t Biggio get a Gold Glove behind the plate, back when he was probably 175 pounds soaking wet? What’s with Stubbs eating burritos all winter, getting his weight up to 190 so he can better frame pitches? Can’t they put him in a blow up suit that makes him look wider?

        This catcher business hits close to home, because I was a skinny backstop by default. I wanted to play full time and nobody else wanted the job. As long as I caught the pitch and could throw, I didn’t get yelled at. Life was so simple in those days.

        Liked by 2 people

    • OP, yes Mr. Crane is much more subtle than his ex-wife.

      The thing some of us forget about Reddick is that he’s pretty good out there in right. He does not need to have another career year with his bat.

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  19. I am assuming that the Astros would like Stubbs to catch Whitley, Martin, Bukauskas, Hartman and Bielak this year and gain knowledge of them, while establishing himself further. He caught Josh James some last season.
    There is going to be some turnover in the pitching for the Astros in 2020 and having him as one of the catchers in whom our prospects know and trust could be vital to their success.

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  20. Today is the day the new 2019 Top 30 Prospects lists for the AL West will be out. If the Astros new list is not announced today, that means the Astros will be one of the top ten farm systems and they would announce those systems starting next Tuesday
    The NL West Top 30 lists will be announced Monday. So far, seven teams have been skipped and the Astros possibly could be one of the remaining three teams to be named a Top 10 Farm System next week. We will know by the end of today if we made that list.
    My guess is that the Astros will make the top 10 farm systems list.

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  21. I think Marwin will survive on 2 years $21 million – even if it is not 4 yrs $60 million.
    He hit what I think is the biggest playoff HR in Astros history – the one that allowed them to win Game 2 of the World Series, the first WS win in club history.

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    • But the clock resets every time:

      1. The pitcher makes a pick off throw. Obviously.
      2. The pitcher fakes a pick off throw. That will be used to beat the system.
      3. The pitcher steps off with runners on base. That will used to abuse the system.

      I wonder if a siren goes off? Maybe one of the umps (the 20 second ump)has a buzzer in his britches. Wonder what the 20 second clock operator makes per night? Does he/she have other jobs too? Will there be an onslaught of replays to see if a guy really threw a pitch resulting in a dinger after the clock actually ran out? I’m too old and set in my ways for this version of dookie.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. The Top 30 Prospects lists were revealed for the AL WEST today, except for the Astros. Their list will be among the Top 10 farm systems revealed over a 4 day period staring next Tuesday.
    With strong talk about a strike coming from the players, a strong farm system is going to be very, very important in the next three years.

    Like

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