Even with George Springer gone to the Blue Jays and Justin Verlander gone to Tommy John Rehab Land, the 2021 Astros have a lot of talent on that roster. Whether that talent shows itself like it did between 2017 and 2019 or struggles like in 2020 will be the key to how this team performs this season. But here is a shot at who the top 10 Astros are heading into 2021.
- Alex Bregman. Before the weirdness of 2020 occurred, Alex was the Astros MVP in 2018 and 2019 and almost the whole league’s MVP in that second season. He is about to turn 27, which is prime time for players, and he has a bit to prove after his 2020 struggles. Bregman should once again be their MVP. Unless…..
- Yordan Alvarez. It is weird to put someone in the second spot after only one half major league seasons and a second season killed by injury and wonder if you are underrating the young man. If he performs over the whole of 2021 like he did in half of 2019, he will elbow Bregman out of the way for the top spot. He could have quite a bit of regression and still be one of the team’s top four players.
- Jose Altuve. This is a critical season for Jose Altuve to prove two things. One, that he can earn the huge contract he was given now that he is on the other side of 30. Two – that he can get “IT” out of his head and perform up to his talent, not over-try in showing that he can perform without cheating.
- Michael Brantley. The biggest move of the off-season was bringing Brantley back for the next two seasons. This helps fill one of the gaping holes in the outfield, gives them a left-handed bat to help balance a right-centric lineup and gives them one of the most solid bats in the big leagues through 2022.
- Zack Greinke. Even though he had a bit of a down in 2020, he is overall the Astros top starting pitcher and the most likely to put in close to a full season as they play a season that is 2-1/2 times what they played in 2020. Greinke was one of the best starting pitchers in the majors for the decade leading into the 2019 season.
- Carlos Correa. No one on the team has as much on the line in the 2021 season as Carlos Correa. He was a tremendous defender last season, but his hitting was just so-so. He has been unable to pair top-notch hitting performance with a full season of play in his career. He can make or lose a lot of money on his free agency in 2021.
- Framber Valdez. Valdez vaulted himself towards the top of the Astros’ pitching list with a tremendous turnaround in 2021. He was arguably their best pitcher throughout the season and into the playoffs. This is his chance to prove the new Framber with control is the real Framber over a few seasons.
- Kyle Tucker. Tucker could easily end up in the top five of this list with normal progression. He, along with Valdez, was the biggest breakout stars of 2020. He was top or near the top in most offensive categories for the 2020 Astros. This season he should really benefit from having improved offensive production around him.
- Cristian Javier. It could be argued that this rookie was the best regular-season starter for the Astros in 2020 as he ended up third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Will he improve in his second season or will teams have a book on him in 2021? He sure looked like the real thing in his major league debut.
- Ryan Pressly. He was not a shut down closer. But he was a solid closer in his first career chance at the end game. It was even more impressive when you saw that he was about the only veteran choice down in the bullpen with Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock, Joe Smith and Chris Devenski completing only 10.1 innings between them.
As usual, you dear readers get the last say.
- Do you agree with the Top 10?
- Do you agree with the order?
- Who would you add or subtract from the list? Yuli Gurriel? Lance McCullers Jr.? Jose Urquidy? Pedro Baez? Joe Smith? Others?