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.
- The Return of Yuli – Yuli 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.
- The Return of Jose – Jose 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not Elvis – Ryan 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?