Despite coming home just short of another World Championship thanks to a hot Atlanta Braves club and an untimely injury to Lance McCullers, 2021 was a successful season for the Astros.
And though they fell short of taking home the biggest trophy, no doubt some of the Astros will take some solace in winning the entire season ChipalattAwards….
Here is a quick chart of the Astros’ pitchers and main stats for the season (we only included pitchers with at least 10 innings).
|Lance McCullers Jr./td>||13||5||0||162.1||3.16||1.220||.205||.305||.628||—|
Note the IR (inherited runners) and IS (% of IRs who scored) is a reasonably new stat for the award consideration…
Top Starting Pitcher of 2021. Lance McCullers Jr. – Lance had his best overall season for the Astros, between his fine 3.16 ERA and his team-leading 13 wins and 162.1 innings and his top-notch slash against – .205 BA/ .305 OBP/ .628 OPS. If he just could have held on for another couple of starts.
Runner-up. Framber Valdez – It seems like a few years ago, but it was only last Spring Training that we had thought we were going to lose Framber for the season with his broken thumb. But he basically missed the first two months of the season and then was very effective the rest of the year. Yes, he had a few bobbles, but his numbers were only a short step behind McCullers for best on the staff.
Top Relief Pitcher of 2021. Ryan Pressly – Pressly was not only the Astros’ closer but their best relief pitcher. Most wins out of the pen toted up 76% of the team’s saves and had a significant slash against highlighted by that .546 OPS against. He was the pitcher coming out of the bullpen that the fans and probably Dusty Baker trusted the most.
Runner-up. Ryne Stanek – Though Kendall Graveman took over the eighth inning spot out of the bullpen when he arrived at the trade deadline, Stanek was the second most effective reliever for the length of the season. His .186 BA/ .303 OBP/ .615 OPS against was outstanding and probably out showed his 3.42 ERA.
Special Recognition – Small Sample Award. (Tie) Peter Solomon and Kent Emanuel – Emanuel came in for the injured Jake Odorizzi with one out in the first inning in his major league debut, and 8.2 innings later, he had won the ball game and saved the other arms in the bullpen. Of course, Emanuel then blew out his arm and is currently with the Phillies. Solomon pitched well in six games spread over three separate call-ups in his first MLB call-ups and has the fans hoping for more of the same in the future.
The Astros had the best offense statistically in the majors. Here is what their individual numbers looked like.
Top Positional Player of 2021. Kyle Tucker – There could be arguments made for many other players, including Yuli Guriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Tucker’s fellow 24 year old, Yordan Alvarez. Tucker did the most overall, and he only fell a little short in the Runs and RBIs columns because he spent the vast majority of the season in the 7th spot in the lineup. That .917 OPS showed what a great hitting and power combo tool he has.
Runner-up. Carlos Correa. He had his very best season fielding and combined it with a healthy and terrific hitting year at the plate. If he leaves in 2022, he will be missed.
Special Recognition Award.The Replacements. George Springer, who had starred in CF for the Astros, left for the Blue Jays. A conglomerate of Myles Straw, Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers, Jose Siri and Kyle Tucker filled in for him. Their combined numbers while playing CF were .270 BA/ .342 OBP/ .727 OPS with 74 runs scored, 12 HRs and 76 RBIs. The combined numbers for all players filling in at CF for the Blue Jays was .242 BA/ .310 OBP/ .774 OPS with 94 runs, 31 HRs and 85 RBIs. The Toronto numbers were better, but not way out there. There were two reasons for this. First, Springer only played in about half the Jays’ games and only 40 in CF, as he spent 38 games at DH. Second, the Astros centerfielder subs did OK. They got on base and helped flip the lineup and might have nicer-looking numbers if Martin Maldonado was not such an offensive zero.
Biggest Surprise (Positive). Yuli Gurriel – Rightly or wrongly because 2020 was such an off-putting year, but I had thought Father Time had caught up with Yuli. Well, Yuli gave Father Time the old one-two in a season when he won the AL batting crown.
Runner-up. Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers – We had grown accustomed to some dreadful performances on position player call-ups, and it was a big boost for us to see these two perform solidly in their major league debuts.
Biggest Disappointment. Jake Odorizzi redeemed himself a bit in the playoffs but seemed almost detached during the season like he did not want to be here or did not want to change anything about the way he always pitched.
Runner-up. Joe Smith – When he last played for the Astros in 2019, he was very, very good. Perhaps because of the rust, he never put it together for the Astros in 2021.
Lifetime Achievement…..Brent Strom – Fans don’t care that maybe his assistants had taken over a lot of the pitchers’ day-to-day dealings. We just knew that when Strom headed to the mound, more times than not, the pitchers out there settled down and pitched better. We will miss everything he brought to the team and the results that he got out of pitchers who had not thrown that well before pitching for him.
As usual, it is your turn to comment. Any you want to award? Any awards you disagree with?