The 2020 ChipalattAwards

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.

Best Position Player – Tie – George Springer and Kyle Tucker

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.

Best Relief Pitcher – Three-Way Tie – Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes and Andre Scrubb

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.

Steady Eddie Award – Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr.

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? 

56 comments on “The 2020 ChipalattAwards

  1. From the Cheap Seats: Best Position Player: Click. He sat on his near pat hand and didn’t panic or try to make a name for himself. Mr Intangible: Covid 19. Ditto on Dusty. Best Cameo: Morganna Roberts, the Kissing Bandit. (Oh, you meant this year). Altuve wins surprise and disappointment. Shot in the Arm: Vaccine we hope.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I got to see the best performance by a golfer in a tournament ever. Dustin Johnson at Augusta was as good as I have ever seen a guy play. Four days of unbelievable golf. So happy to witness greatness.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Tiger is the old man now. Watching him post a 10 spot on the par 3 was like seeing Altuve at the plate in the deepest of slumps. But Woods did not mail it in, putting up birdies on 5 of his last 6 holes. Even on a soft course, not many guys score like that at Augusta.

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      • Tiger went a little Tin Cup on 12th hole – he was sure he was hitting it right after plunking the first one in the water – his 3rd shot was good but too much backspin and slid back in the water – then he put one into a bad lie in a sand trap that he sailed into the water.
        I think after that 10 you could have fried an egg on his forehead and then he went on a roll.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Rodney Dangerfield “I get no respect” Award: Brandon Bailey.

    He had a 2.45 ERA / 1.23 WHIP, was sent to the alternate training site and replaced by Joe Biagini (20.77 ERA / 3.23 WHIP) on 08/16 and never returned. Castellanos, James, Rodriguez and Sneed also had worse numbers but got more chances than BB1.

    The Jekyll & Hyde Award: Brandon Bielak.

    First five games through 08/17: 21.1 IP / 1.69 ERA / 1.13 WHIP.
    Last seven games 08/22 to 09/26: 10.2 IP / 16.03 ERA / 3.00 WHIP.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah the Brandon Bailey thing was so odd unless he was hurting.
      His last time out he pitched 2 scoreless innings against Seattle gave up a hit and a walk and had 3 Ks.
      Bielak had that one game against San Diego where it looked like batting practice – 4 HRs and 7 runs in 1.1 IP and after that he was not the same – very hittable.

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      • Bailey, like Ferguson the year before being returned,

        Probably a candidate like Mayfield to get demoted to make room for Whitley Solis Ivey etc.

        Bailey is a solid pitch to contact guy, and like any Super small sample size, especially for a rookie, hard to hang any hats on stats. My buddy in Tulsa last year said Hooks Bailey was better than the hard throwers, because he locates.

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    • The Velasquez situation is fascinating. It also feeds into all the various scenarios that will play out by the day after the Rule 5 draft.
      I think there will be few major deals consummated until all of this plays out to the end.
      The real barrier to acquiring players for every team is the shutdown of business all over the world for the owners of these teams. Owners of the teams have business interests that allowed them to get the assets to buy their teams. Big losses by the main businesses coupled with huge losses in MLB in 2020 have owners leery about spending money during these dangerous times. The prospect of further shutdowns has got to make them jumpy as hell.

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      • I believe he was the Padilla in Dominican. Hard thrower, bad command

        They had several arms I was intrigued by, and he wasn’t one.
        They were Reimy Beltre, jaime Melendez, Jeremy Molero, Mezquito, Pereira and Batista

        Apparently the Astros like Daniel Pacheco and Misael Tamarez a lot too, because they got a promotion to Instructionals.

        I must admit I only read box scores in that league daily, hard to get footage, and also most scouts say DSL, you must take all with grain of salt bc it’s a Real Crapshoot at that age/league. We start to see who sticks up at QC and Fay’ville.

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      • The Astros have 18 RHP in their Top 30 prospects, Padilla not being one of them. That is tied for the most in baseball. If the idea is to trade from your excess, then the Astros did what they were supposed to do. Six or seven years from now, if the guy is pitching for Baltimore, you give Elias credit for making a good trade. If the Astros get anything out of Velasquez, you give some credit to Click.

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  4. Op, Elias is definitely the hawk of our system, and looks like in retrospect why we roster’d Bryan Abreu a year too early in his development.

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  5. The “Pitch-to-no-contact” Award: Bryan Abreu, with 18.9 BB/9 innings.

    Other guys who were great at “missing bats” :-p: Sanabria / 13.5, James / 8.8, Perez 8.5 & Biagini 8.3.

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      • My guess is this is all about the transition from Nolan and Reid Ryan to Crane’s son, Jared? And RR will fold right back into Rangers — anyway, not our concern.

        Mike Capps will still be the voice of the Rangers. Glad to have gotten to know him, what a knowledgable dude!

        And Hill Country, Texas can go back to being Rangers Country. They’ve got some decent talent in the minors.

        As for me, this is my entry point, I think to get on with the big club. I’ll be pushing all my buttons, how exciting to be this close to it all. Skeeter stadium is an awesome experience too. I’ll get to see Brett Conine in 2021!!! This is a perfect situation for the club having UofH and now SL all within 20 mns driving distance to MMP.

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      • Sarge, when the CBA between MLB and MILB expired this year, all contracts between MLB teams and MILB franchises were voided.
        Basically, there no longer were any affiliations.
        So, Round Rock is now open to any team who would like a AAA franchise there.
        The Astros own the CC Hooks and the Fayetteville Woodpeckers and will share in the ownership of the Skeeters. We are in really good shape with our top 3 minor league teams and our rookie league team in Florida, I assume.

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      • Dan, Ha!
        On a semi-related story, my dad and I would “slip through” as he used to say, Braeswood from Alief to get to the Astrodome in 1980. Never go 610.

        It’s going to be so nice to connect our home folks with the closest the the Show, utterly overwhelmed with excitement.

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  6. I posted this on the Day the Ryan’s left the Astros organization:

    NOVEMBER 8, 2019 @ 9:17 AM
    One of the reasons why I suggest this episode may involve the CC and Round Rock ownership by the Ryans is because of MLB’s proposed radical plan to totally realign and redo MILB.
    The proposal would eliminate as many as 42 minor league franchises and radically realign leagues to correspond with their parent clubs geographically.
    Somewhere included in this plan I read that MLB would incorporate the Sugarland Skeeters into this plan.
    If that happened, could we then understand why the Ryans might end up parting ways with the Astros?
    Maybe the parting of ways merely is from the Cranes supporting this plan and the Ryan’s being against it.
    This scenario would then make sense from the standpoint of Reid leaving to tend to his other businesses.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good job, Op

      As Jack Nicklaus said his favorite things about golf is remembering the things he forgot.

      You were always a step ahead on the re-alignment subject too.

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      • Now I know how a blind hog really feels. I hit on Framber and realignment, too.
        If only I could hit on an outfield combo for 2021. Maybe suggesting a bunch of them would be like a roulette wheel. I’m bound to hit on something.
        Bradley, Jr and Eaton
        Leon and Puig.
        Brantley and McCormick
        Fritos and Chili
        Brooks and Dunn.
        Tracy and Hepburn

        Liked by 1 person

      • 1OP, I’m going with Brantley and Jake. That’ll give Leon some time. I know GoStros1, but with our lineup Jake can get away with an OPS around .700 and will play better center than anyone else in the league for the money. And yes, last year I was touting Straw to be the next Jake. Even 1OP is wrong most of the time. But that sure was a pretty good call on the Skeeters. Can we have a name change contest now? Anyone think Biggio might want to manage our AAA guys?

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  7. The Diamond Glove Award (since the Gold Glove Award seems to have lost its value): Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke.

    CC was a ball vacuum and showed off his cannon arm while making only one error. Greinke played his usual outstanding defense with 3 DPs and no errors.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If I lived out in Sugarland, making the trek into town to see the big club play might not be so justifiable with the AAA affiliate, even if called the Skeeters, right in the neighborhood. A cold beer won’t set a loyal fan back ten bucks a pop. And bringing a guy up to the big club will be a lot easier. Getting shelled in the 6th and need a guy to pitch the 8th? Call a chopper. I guess this pretty much ends the Ryan family relationship with an exclamation point. That’s too bad.

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    • Dave, it’s not like the Astros decided to make it easy for people in SW Houston to attend their games when they built MMP downtown.
      What this does is stabilize the Astros minor league system, while also guaranteeing that the facilities in Sugarland will be there and even upgraded when necessary.
      Crane tried to work a deal in the old Camp Strake complex purchase to bring the Astros AAA close to home, but couldn’t pull it off with so many parties involved. This deal is a dream come true for him.
      It will be good for Houston fans. You want to see Astros prospects play? Now you can, in person. In Sugarland.
      So many memories for me. Can’t tell you how many times I drove past Imperial Sugar. Thousands of times.

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      • 1OP, outside of potentially alienating some of a loyal group of Astro fans in the Austin area, I really don’t see a downside. I do wonder if our AA team will remain in Corpus though. Totally separately, I remember the days back in the early 70’s taking a left from Memorial Drive onto Highway 6 and flying south to Sugarland on the back of a Honda 450. Took about 15 minutes. There was no light at Westheimer in those days. I’m not even sure if there was a stop sign.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dave, since the Astros own the CC Hooks, I’m pretty sure they will remain our AA club.
        Yep, in a span of about 5 years, Hwy 6/1960 went from wonderful to miserable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We live at Hiway 59 and Hiway 6 – if there was not a parking garage across the street I could see Constellation Field from my condo. About 4 mile drive….

        Liked by 1 person

      • When my wife and I were looking for our first house way back in 1981 – I remember we got lost trying to find Quail Valley. We ended up at Hiway 6 and Hiway 90 – nothing there but the view of the Sugar Mill about a mile away – looked like the middle of nowhere (like back in the movie Sugar Land Express). It is an amazing area how everything has grown out here since then.

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      • Used to be good duck hunting near Imperial Sugar, Op..

        Now it’s an entranceway to Katy Mills Mall, Bass Pro Shop or the Football stadium.

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      • Wait wait GoStros – Imperial Sugar is down in Sugar Land – Katy Mills is up in Katy – I think you are thinking about First Colony Mall

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      • Just testin’ ya, Dan.

        HaHa just kidding, are you still in the Milwaukee area, or in Houston now?

        My reading comprehension is even worse than my memory these days. Too many rum and cokes with dave!

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      • We’ll have to catch a Skeeters game sometime for those close enough these days, then..

        Hey, and even the folks out of town will be able to converse and watch games hopefully. I find it a rewarding pastime when the Astros are getting beat.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Boy, I should start paying more, or maybe less attention. I’m pretty sure I knew the Astros had bought the Hooks. But I just had to go and see that is was in 2013. Yikes. Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin….

        Liked by 1 person

  9. And in honor of our lady friends who comment here I did want to recognize the Marlins for hiring Kim Ng as the first lady GM in the MLB and I’m assuming – the first lady GM of any major sports team in the US.
    That is a cool thing!

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  10. Look what Chazzy McCormick did in that lineup with the best prospect in all the land!

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  11. Just thinking ahead on Astros 40-man, notes.

    Astros at 37 without Joe Smith decided.

    Likely non-tenders;
    Mayfield, Bailey, Castellanos

    Makes room for Rule 5’s;
    Whitley, Solis, Nova, Ivey, Rivera makes 39.

    https://www.mlb.com/astros/roster/40-man

    Back to Dan’s orig comment, I do think we should start talking about moving on from JV in ’21 by trading him to DET. I suppose DFA is an option, but it just seems likely it will be handled more legitimately than to sully the Verlander name, if you will. Surely we can work something out, and maybe JV can pitch for them in September, in return for a 20-yr old longshot as a token.

    Armenteros / Sneed are two other spots we may look, if we intend to replace at least one OF (Springer, per se)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You will likely have to send along his full salary GoStros – I wonder how the insurance on this works – do you only collect if you keep him here on the 40 man?

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      • I read insurance covers Crane 80%, period.

        Especially since DET paid a few years of his before, we could work something out to blend things, in order to free up space. I just can’t imagine he’s anything but a sort of mole at this point, knowing he’s gone anyway. What do you want him knowing about 2021 and taking to Hinch, if he’s not much of a player/coach either..

        Liked by 1 person

    • Nice update but I’m reminded why I don’t read this guy any more.
      He lost me (anyway) in the 1st sentence: 2020 Astros talk “surrounded their lack of pitching depth.” Pitching was the least of my concerns, even losing JV Osuna Pea and Devo.

      Curious how he pegs Rogelio over Javier in long relief if Armenteros has trouble the 2nd time through? I’d say neither of their sample sizes tell us predictably speaking their roles in ’21.

      More accurately, the greater the number of former starters on the Astros staff allows for flexibility to decide how to use them situationally. Strom claimed that “every pitcher is a starter until he isn’t.” That’s exactly how they should approach the guys, because most are *striving* to legthen their outings.

      It is nice to know he’s back from bone spurs, but that was expected. The real question: is Armenteros (or Sneed) better than the guys we have to protect in R5? Namely, Solomon Ivey and Rivera. The answer I’m thinking — can we hide Rivera? If Astros think we can, then Rogelio is probably THE bubble boy with Humberto Castellanos. I have both of these pitchers in the #25-30 range, and the prospects higher. Very interested to see if Astros agree..

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  12. It’s gonna be hard to hide anyone with all the analytical buzzards flying around.
    Value based on age, options remaining, years of service remaining could go a long way to determining who is protected and who isn’t.

    Like

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