It has taken a while for your loyal scribe to get around to giving awards for a season that was less than 40% long. It is not that folks don’t deserve to be recognized, but like everything else this season it is hard to get inspired to do anything. Anyways without further waffling and delay, here are the ChipalattAwards for 2020.
Springer and Tucker were the most productive of all the Astros. Michael Brantley was the best hitter for the team, but George and Kyle had the most to show for their season.
Springer – 1st in runs scored (37), 1st in HRs (14), 2nd in RBIs (32), 3rd in BA (.265), 2nd in OBP (.359) and 1st in OPS (.899).
Tucker – 2nd in runs scored (33), 1st in hits (56), 2nd in HRs (9), 1st in RBIs (42), 1st in SBs (8), 2nd in BA (.268) and 3rd in OPS (.837)
Runner-up – Michael Brantley
He had arguably the best “slash” on the team with a .300 BA/ .364 OBP/ .840 OPS and was teasing the .400 BA level until an injury slowed him down.
Best Starting Pitcher – Framber Valdez
If you had gone to Vegas and bet on Valdez having the strongest season of the Astros’ starters, you might have won money just to say he would be one of the Astro starters. But Framber finally learned control and was the anchor in the rotation. He tied for first on the team with 5 wins, led the team with 70.2 IP and put up a solid 3.57 ERA and 1.118 WHIP.
Runner-up – Cristian Javier
A strong argument could be made for Javier as the best starter this season. He also had 5 wins had a slightly better 3.48 ERA and a brilliant 0.994 WHIP in fewer innings (54.1 IP) than Valdez. No more could have been expected from either of these young men in breakout seasons.
This is cheating in a way – but the purpose is to recognize what these three young men meant to a bullpen that was decimated between free agency (Will Harris, Hector Rondon, and Collin McHugh), COVID sit-out (Joe Smith) and injury (Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski).
All three of these pitchers walked too many batters, struggled at times in extra innings and had other challenges that would be expected from young guys making their major league debuts. But they ate up important innings and had good results.
Taylor – 2-1, 1 save, 2.18 ERA in 20.2 IP
Paredes – 3-3, 3.05 ERA in 20.2 IP
Scrubb – 1-0, 1.90 ERA in 23.2 IP
No runner up
Mr. Intangible – Martin Maldonado
Whatever hitting the Astros received from Maldonado, including 24 RBIs was gravy. The catcher kept the team together, through the use of 26 pitchers in 60 games including about half of which were rookies/making MLB debuts. This was as good a job by a veteran catcher as you are likely to see.
Mr. Calm and Cool – Dusty Baker
95-year-old Baker took his 12th team to the playoffs. Well, at least that is how it seemed. He kept the team from imploding from tons of pitching injuries and poor offensive performances, benefitted from an expanded playoff scheme and then led the team to the cusp of another World Series when they frankly had no business being there.
Mr. October – Carlos Correa
The team played with the confidence of a beat dog after the cheating scandal in the previous off-season. Carlos had a terrific playoff performance and more importantly, gave the team some swagger back when they really needed it. The guy who could not stay on the field the last few years stayed on the field and made impactful plays at crucial times in the playoffs.
Best Cameo – Yordan Alvarez
He missed the first three weeks of the season and then after playing in two games, he missed the rest of the season due to knee problems. But those two games resulted in 2 runs scored, 1 HR and 4 RBIs including an opposite-field 3 run bomb in his first at bat of the year.
Biggest Surprise – Framber Valdez
In his first two times up to the majors he was averaging an unacceptable 5.5+ walks per 9 IP. All of a sudden, he had lowered this to 2.0 walks per 9 IP and by putting his unhittable breaking balls in the zone he became a weapon for the team.
Biggest Disappointment – Jose Altuve
He did do a good job of turning things around in the playoffs, but he stunk in the regular season. He had a big trifecta during 2020. His BA (.219), OBP (.286) and OPS (.629) were all the lowest in his 10 seasons with the Astros. Yes, he did not have an extra 100 games to raise those numbers, but it should never have come to this. He is too good a hitter to hit that bad.
Shot in the Arm Award – Jose Urquidy
The team really needed some starting pitching assistance and Urquidy came back from his assumed illness to repeat what he had in 2019. He was strong with a 1-1, 2.73 ERA, 1.011 WHIP in 5 starts down the stretch.
They were not aces, but both Greinke and McCullers were solid and started 23 of the Astros 60 games in 2020. Greinke’s 3-3, 4.03 ERA and McCullers 3-3, 3.93 ERA were not great, but they showed up and kept the team in games and that was critical this season.
So, what do you think of these awards and what others would you hand out?