Astros 2021: 10 fun things so far

Baseball is supposed to be fun, but sometimes “serious” fans take things too seriously. We live and die over every injury, bullpen meltdown, bonehead play, inexplicable lineup choice and did I say bullpen meltdown?

But with the Astros finally rising to the top of the AL West, it is time to reflect on the bright spots that have made this season – well – fun.

  1. The Return of YuliYuli Gurriel looked old and out of shape in the odd-wad season known as 2020. This season, Yuli looks more like 26 years old than 36 years old, using a highly sharpened sense of the strike zone to become one of the best hitters in the majors in 2021. That helicopter swing has resulted in hit after hit and RBI after RBI. And that is the definition of fun.
  2. The Return of JoseJose Altuve has gone from a guy who was trying too hard in 2020 and failing, to a guy who is channelling the Altuve of his MVP season. There are very few guys who can easily beat out an infield single and then turn around and launch a walk-off grand slam home run. Especially at only 5-1/2 feet tall. And the most fun about watching Altuve is that he is having fun this year.
  3. The Full Return of Yordan – While the first two guys were returning from a down season, Yordan is returning from a shutdown season as he only played 2 games in 2020 before sitting down for the year. Seeing the big man out there again has been a lot of fun as he has been adjusting to the way the opposing pitchers attack him after his 2019 ROY season and learning a lot about the art of hitting.
  4. Luis Luis – Youngster Luis Garcia has been a blast to watch this season. After a quick cup of coffee in 2020, he has filled in as the 5th starter as a number of pitchers (Framber Valdez, Jake Odorizzi, Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers Jr.) have spent time on the IL. He has been excellent showing poise way beyond his age. Now he is part of what looks like a juggernaut of a 6 man starting rotation. What fun.
  5. Not ElvisRyan Pressly has been making a name for himself as he has grabbed the closer’s role, which he was a little wobbly about last season. He has been the most reliable and toughest reliever for the Astros all season and the fans do not sweat (too much) when he comes in the game. Which makes it fun.
  6. Uncle Mike – Watching Michael Brantley hit is just a pleasure. How much more fun can it be than to watch a guy who, no matter the count, will whip out that effortless-looking swing and spray line drives from sea to shining sea – or at least foul line to foul line?
  7. Onward Cristian Soldier Cristian Javier is only 24 (like Garcia), but like Luis, he has made a big mark on this team, especially with the unselfish way he has moved to the bullpen after being one of the best pitchers in the rotation. He has not missed a beat no matter where he has been used and that flexibility makes him a fun weapon for the fans to watch.
  8. The Pretzel Man – Is there anything more fun than watching a hitter blow a gasket trying to line up with a 60 mph or slower curveball from the 7 wins 2 loss Zack Greinke? Well, sometimes it is more fun to see what he will do when he faces the press after the game. Still, he is a special player and we are lucky to see him play and talk.
  9. CC Senor – Carlos Correa is in the process of taking himself from a rich young man to a mega-rich young man. But it is still fun to see his rocket arm on a double play relay, his ability to drive a ball out deep to right field to move a game into extra innings and his ability to barrel up almost anything that comes his way.
  10. Hey Mac – Lance McCullers Jr. has missed a few starts this season, possibly more as a precaution than anything, but watching his ungodly breaking pitches frustrate the hitters is a ton of fun to the fans. As he matures he should be leading this rotation for the next 5 seasons.

Your turn – what do you find as fun with this Astros team?

44 comments on “Astros 2021: 10 fun things so far

  1. Some things that are fun for me:
    – Seeing Yordan Alvarez healthy enough to play LF. That makes him happy and also gives Brantley some DH time, thus keeping Michael rested for the second half of the season.
    – Seeing Jose Altuve smile, laugh and hit.
    – Watching the Astros win 10-2, even with Angel Hernandez constantly costing them at-bats.
    – I love listening to the boos and then watching their team lose.
    – Watching Yuli Gurriel play great baseball is fun.
    – I like how the Astros players have taken to Garrett Stubbs. He is fun to watch. He acts like he is in heaven.
    – I love to watch Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez in the dugout.
    -It is fun to see Odorizzi get better with every start, like he said he would. The difference in him from a month ago and last night is striking. He was exhausted in the fifth inning, but he ruled the game in the first four innings.
    The six man rotation will maybe help him go six innings next time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I didn’t want OP’s comment to get lost – now that we have a new thread…

    1oldpro
    JUNE 22, 2021 @ 11:07 AM
    Look at this draft and see how many of the players from one team’s draft have made it to the majors: https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2015/6/14/8779745/mlb-draft-2015-astros-2015-draft-pick-results-tracker-and-social
    Eshelman will start for Baltimore against the Astros on Wednesday.
    Players who have played in the majors are:
    Bregman
    Tucker
    Cameron
    Eshelman
    Ferrell
    Thornton
    Stubbs
    Sandoval
    Straw
    Garza
    10 players from one year’s draft have played in the majors. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Winning is fun! In the month of June, the Astros have 15 wins & 4 losses. In the 15 wins, our starters had 11 quality starts (Valdez 4, Garcia 3, Urquidy 2, Zack & Lance 1 each). Also in the 15 wins, our pitchers gave up 4 runs twice, 3 runs 5 times, 2 runs 3 times and 1 run 5 times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Astros win – Astros win again!!
    Myles Straw the offensive star with a video review home run that hit off the top of the fence, bounced off an Astro fan and back onto the field and an RBI single. Chas knocked in the other run with a sac fly that he barely got under or might have been a grand salami.
    Another masterful start by #8 on my fun list. Brooks Raley to finish the 8th and Pressly with some help from a bad call by the umpire on a potential leadoff walk.
    Some excellent fielding plays by the team, especially a catch by Straw and a crazy DP relay by Robel.

    In other news, Rockets get the overall #2 pick in the draft. Famous overall #2 picks over the years include Kevin Durant, Bob Pettit, ‘Zo Mourning, Gary Payton, Isaiah Thomas, Jerry West, Bill Russell and Neal Walk.
    Neal Walk? That twas the Phoenix Suns pick for losing a coin flip to the Bucks and losing out on Lew Alcindor (The Player to Be Named Later) Kareem Abdul Jabbar…..

    Like

    • Dusty continues to give guys days off and I would complain except they’ve won 9 in a row. Yesterday was Correa’s turn to rest his ancient bones.
      That meant Robel Garcia (who hit the huge bases clearing double the other day) played SS. That was OK, but I was not excited to have Robel (4 Ks in 5 ABs last night) in the #2 spot in the order. Toro continues to fill in for Bregman – sometimes it is him, sometimes it is Garcia. Tucker, who they had hinted might come back in this series is being held back while he builds up strength and according to Dusty, puts on weight. I wonder how skinny that bean pole is. So, that gives Chas more ABs – he knocked in a key insurance run with a deep sac fly with the bases loaded last night.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. For Corpus last night. Marty Costes lead off by getting hit in the head. He was OK. But his next AB, he was hit in the shoulder. That is known as taking two for the team. Kory Lee hit the ball hard each AB. 3 for 4 with 8 total bases. Sugar Land, De la Cruz went 4 for 5. But El Paso took off their “Chihuahua” Jerseys and replaced them with “Diablos.” That proved too much for the Skeeters to handle even with 16 hits.

    Like

  6. Astros have a 2 out rally for 3 runs in the first.
    Correa knocks in Yuli and Yordan and Tucker knocks in Carlos.
    Dusty talked about Tucker losing weight when he was sick – and he almost disappeared when he stood sideways at the plate

    Like

  7. Great Astros win. They got a lot of fly balls off of Jose but most found a mitt to land in .

    Korey Lee continues to impress me in Corpus. Another HR and he threw out a runner going to second. Korey was on his knees when he threw the ball. Very strong arm. He may be the long lost catcher that the Astros have attempted to develop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • astrocolt45, wouldn’t it be great to have a real live home grown big league catcher waiting in the wings? We can see that he’s becoming a hitter, but he must be solid behind the plate too, as he only wore that Woodpecker hat for 29 games before being sent to Corpus. Thanks for the updates.

      Liked by 1 person

      • https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/team.cgi?id=d80bc6cc

        Just my opinion based upon what I have seen to date, sorted off batting average gives you the top prospects at Corpus. Korey Lee has made solid contact in a very, very small sample. Lee has thrown out 39% of the attempted steals. Marty Costes is leading the league in On Base % – with not much power. Norel will not impress you until he makes contact. Then BOOM. Hensley can be the replacement for Diaz when he gets too expensive in a couple years (See Marwin Gonzalez). Pedro Leon is 23 and at least 2 years away. He has terrible pitch recognition/plate discipline. If the pitcher were to roll the ball to the catcher and Pedro has decided to swing, he will do so. Appears to have some really good tools otherwise. (Even the announcers did not know why and maybe there was no reason, but night before last, Pedro had two ABs and was suddenly pulled.)

        Just an opinion.

        Like

  8. Tonight reminded me of the beat down the Astros gave the O’S in 2019!
    The “fill in” guys are absolutely awesome! And it looks like they are gonna be with this team for another 4 weeks, until Bregman comes back. I hope they don’t pull up, and continue to pound the Tigers as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Houston pulled up for Hinch and his team when they visited Houston. I hope they are ready for war this time.
      The fans in Baltimore would not stop booing and the Astros never let up.
      Let’s see what Detroit has to offer.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. The Astros are 19 and 4 since those two gruesome weekend losses to the Padres. They really got going on the trip to Buffalo, Boston and Minneapolis. I recollect saying something about the Astros being in for a rough trip. I hope my wisdom is appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. One of my brothers, a knucklehead in his own right, has suggested that I start keeping an eye on Brayan De Paula, who is no longer a Woodpecker but now a travelling Tourist. Tall, skinny, hard throwing, wild lefty? Let’s feed the kid and see what happens!

    I was also intrigued by Dillion Tate last night. His stuff moves. For a #1 pick, he sure has been all over the minor league map and nobody has been able to turn him into a quality ML pitcher. Maybe it’s just not there. But I’d bet Strom would like to get a hold of him.

    Like

    • Yeah, Tate really caught my eye. When a guy has pitch coming in at 96 miles and hour and it suddenly twitches sideways a bit near the plate, you think about how hard that would be to hit. Now maybe he usually is not that accurate but he was the only pitcher who looked like he belonged last night for the O’s.

      Like

  11. Almost felt sorry for the Tigers but then again….
    Great to hear Baggy tonite give his insight and opinions on the game. He’ll be on board for the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I learn a lot when Baggy does this – very thoughtful- very insightful – really a student of the game still.
      Astros on a huge roll.

      Like

  12. -Straw is playing better than I thought he could or would.
    -I still think Yuli was hurting last season. He looks amazing!
    -I was correct in predicting that Yordan’s bat would make up for the loss of Springer. Altuve with 17 HRs, mostly from the leadoff spot doesn’t hurt either.
    – Bagwell agrees with me. The more they boo, the more we will try to score.
    – Detroit’s defense looked slow and poor.
    -Detroit’s bullpen threw 5.1 innings and ours threw 3.
    -Framber throws for us Friday and they start a righty, Peralta.

    Like

  13. Some noticeable items whereby some are obvious.
    Myles Straw has proved us wrong. Hitting .302 in last 30 games.
    Michael Brantley is amazing.
    Yuli is playing like he’s 27 not 37.
    Correa is playing like he really wants that $30MM/yr contract.
    Yordan is back to crushing baseballs. He’d look good in a Godzilla costume.
    Tucker as Baggy pointed out is spraying the ball for more hits. No problem with power either.
    Altuve is “Altuve” again.
    Maldonado’s hitting is coming around , no longer an automatic out and of course there’s his stellar catching and game calling ability.
    We have the best starting rotation in MLB.
    Bullpen is doing better with putting up goose eggs for the opposition.
    Replacements are holding their own with some starting to find their groove.
    Shoop’s final K last night looked like he didn’t want to be there.

    Another thing I noticed was a mound visit by the Detroit pitching coach (I think). I believe it was Castro who rolled his eyes and then walked away while he was talking. A tough night for the Tigers. Of course we endured those three seasons of 100+ losses so we’ve been there too.

    Sorry OP1, overlooked your post of astute observations.

    Like

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