Astros’ infield: Comeback players of the year?

Heading into the COVID delayed 2020 season, Astro’s fans had many concerns ranging from how well the Astros were going to fill in behind Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Roberto Osuna, Will Harris, and Hector Rondon, to how Yordan Alvarez‘s knees were going to hold up, to whether they would make it through a whole season during the pandemic and would any fans actually see any games in person.

As it turned out, an area the fans were not that concerned about, the performance of their high octane infield of Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman, turned out to be the biggest disappointment of 2020. The following table shows the huge drop off of each of the foursome. Note – the numbers for runs, doubles, homers and RBIs have all been factored up to 162 games worth for each season to give a better feel on the comparisons.

Name Year BA OBP OPS Runs* Dbls* HRs* RBIs*
Yuli Gurriel 2019 .298 .343 .884 95 45 35 117
Yuli Gurriel 2020 .232 .274 .658 77 34 17 62
                 
Jose Altuve 2019 .298 .353 .903 116 35 41 97
Jose Altuve 2020 .219 .286 .629 108 30 17 61
                 
Carlos Correa 2019 .279 .358 .926 91 35 45 127
Carlos Correa 2020 .264 .326 .709 61 25 14 70
                 
Alex Bregman 2019 .296 .423 1.015 127 38 43 116
Alex Bregman 2020 .242 .350 .801 73 46 23 85
* These statistics were factored up to 162 games

It is not clear what is more amazing here. That not one of those stats went up year to year or that the Astros somehow managed to get within one game of the World Series after all this occurred. It should be noted that after squeezing into the expanded playoffs two of the four (Altuve and Correa) produced closer to expectations in the playoffs.

The bottom line here is that there is a ton of room for all four of these players to swerve back to their norm.

Gurriel is by far the oldest of the infield foursome as he turns 37 in June. His performance in 2020 could be blamed on age, but frankly, he had been getting better with age and had his very best season in 2019. However, he may have been much more affected by the stop-start of the 2020 season as he was not in top shape, may have been dealing with an injury and was also dealing with the emotion of COVID with most of his family isolated from him. The Astros still believed in him and signed him for 2021 with an option for 2022.

Altuve had the worse season in his career. As we’ve been told he was dealing with a death or deaths in his family. We did not have to be told that he took the cheating scandal perhaps more personally than any of his teammates. It was like watching George Springer in one of his bad slumps for the whole season as he was swinging out of his shoes with little contact and lesser results. The “real” Jose appeared in the playoffs and told us that he still had the ability to be one of the most impactful players in the major leagues.

Correa slumped the least of the four players, though his power fell off steeply. The plus side for the season was that he had no little nicks, massaged broken ribs or mystery back injuries knocking him out of the lineup. The other plus side was that he stepped up verbally and with his performance in the playoffs. The focus will be on this possibly being his last year with the organization, but there should be additional focus on whether Correa can finally link a premier offensive performance with a season that he stays on the field.

Bregman’s 2020 season was mediocre for a normal hitter, but far below average for the man who was a runner up to Mike Trout for the AL MVP in 2019. It was a pretty sure thing that his hamstring injury hamstrung him in the batting box, especially late in the season and it is a concern that he starts spring training with a tweaked hammy. Alex turns 27 this season and should be entering his prime. A bounce-back season is a reasonable expectation for Bregman in 2021.

Will all four of these infielders come roaring back in 2021? Maybe not, but it sure is not a big reach to think that 3 of the 4 will get back to the norm in the new season.

38 comments on “Astros’ infield: Comeback players of the year?

  1. Astros enter the ninth today trailing 6-2.
    Then the kiddie corps plays small ball
    Nova walks
    Toro singles
    DeLaCruz singles
    Manea walks
    di Gotti singles
    Dawson singles
    Barber hit by pitch
    6-6 with the bases loaded and still no outs

    Like

  2. (That was DeGotti)

    McCormick K’s
    Pena sac fly to put them ahead 7-6
    Nova K’s

    Heading to the bottom of the 9th.

    OK – it does not count, but it is baseball

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Astros win! Astros win! As Ryan Hartman gets the win…..
    So the players who are not going to play in the majors for the Astros this year beat the players who are not going to play in the majors for the Nats this year.

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    • Thanks Astro Nut – I was looking for something about a Yuli injury when I wrote this and this did not pop up. It certainly would explain things as he was still making contact last season – his K% was about the same, but his HR% and extra base % were way down. His Babip (batting average for ball in play) was a minisucle .235, which is way off his personal average or league averages. It makes sense you would have less pop with an injured hand. You could still connect but the ball isn’t going anywhere.

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  4. Considering the theme of this post, now is a good time to look at the Astros infield today starting against most of the Mets regular lineup:
    Diaz at 3B
    Pena at SS
    Nova at 2B
    Jones at 1B

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  5. I just spent 3.99 a month (about the price of a large rum punch at Sunshine’s) on a subscription to The Athletic. I know, big splurge. Anyway, Jake Kaplan was talking about what Correa might get as a free agent after an excellent 2021 season. He suggested Manny Machado money.

    I hope Carlos has the kind of season that nets him 300 million over ten years.

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    • That’s a pretty big gamble. When I look at the players who have been paid those obscene contracts I’d say Machado is the safest bet of all of them. I wouldn’t touch Betts, Trout, or Tatis, Jr.’s contracts. Harper’s has been a disaster and could overtake Arod when it comes to a team regretting what they paid someone eventually. Correa brings value in so many ways that I can see a justification, but the despite a wide gap in natural ability he has yet to be the best player on his MLB team for a season. Then again, by the looks of it, SD, LAD, and NYY aren’t concerned with how much money they throw around.

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  6. So today, Framber gave up a solo home run in two other wise spotless innings. Javier gave up a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings. Lash Larue (Not sure if this is really Lash) just gave up another solo HR in the 5th inning.
    The Astros’ hitters, which are mostly the youngsters, have not scored yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A few tidbits from today’s game:

    Souza Jr played the 6th & 7th at First Base.
    Austin Hansen struck out the side in the 7th.
    Former Astro farmhand Drew Ferguson played LF for the Mets in the 6th & 7th and drew a walk in the 7th.

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  8. Am I reading this correctly? It appears that MLB and AAA players complete Spring Training for games starting about April 1st. Then the other minor leaguers go to ST for April and start their games about May 4th. That is how I am reading the schedule.

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    • I’m sorry AC45 – when I see FUBO – all I can think of is how it appears to be the initials for a “not ready for mixed company” description of what kind of Baseball Organization the MLB is…..

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I know I am a post behind in asking, but who do you think will be the NEXT MAN UP after Framber Valdez? The remainder of Spring Training 2021 just started looking a whole lot more competitive for a few of our young pitchers.

    Liked by 1 person

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