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?
To our folks who pay much more attention to the Astros’ prospects than I do – do you agree with this article on who is the Astros’ youngest top position prospect?
There were only two choices and Lorenzo played better than the newbie, Whitaker, who was an infant at pro baseball.
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A few thoughts on the Tyler White and Jon Singleton minor league signings by the Brewers.
– I was always pulling for Tyler. I mean a 33rd round pick is never supposed to get one sniff of the majors. He had that super hot streak in 2016 to start the season and then fell like a rock. He had a very good short showing in 2017 and similar in a longer stay in 2018. Thought he was going to be a solid guy off the bench for us for a long time. He then hit poorly here and the Dodgers in 2019 and we heard about his thyroid problems (as I remember). Hope he gets another shot at things.
– Singleton always reminded me of a worse version of Chris Carter – never seemed to swing where the ball was – but if the ball hit his bat good things could happen. You look at that 2014 season where he somehow got 44 RBIs in only 310 ABs while only hitting .168 – crazy. He walked at a great clip – like 14% over his stay with the Astros, but struck out at an insane rate – almost 40% in 2014.
– First I want to say that I am not a doctor and never played one on TV. I’ve also never smoked weed, or taken any other kinds of recreational drugs …..It is funny when you look at that article where they say Singleton’s addiction to weed derailed him. All sorts of people in the comments immediately jump in and say weed is not addictive. I know that marijuana supposedly does not create the chemical addiction in a person that say cocaine or heroin do. But can’t you become addicted (if you have an addictive personality) to almost anything – gambling, porn, food, gaming, TV…. without it being triggered by some “chemical” in the thing you are addicted to? It is a problem with the person (though all addiction to reading and commenting on Chipalatta is alright with me).
The comments about Singelton made me laugh out loud!! Evidently Tyler White had some sort of medical problem when he got traded and supposedly he got help for it. I hope both of them can rebound.
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I’ve known people that got up in the morning and could not start the day without coffee and their first joint. And I smoked the stuff many moons ago. All it did was demotivate me. It certainly was not the kind of product that gets one pumped up for a big game! A nap? Yes.
There is a worse version of Chris Carter? Just kidding, but the dude is now in the mexican leagues. He was a beast in the minor leagues.
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The stats for the players from last year brought something to my attention:
Yuli Gurriel came up to the Astros for 36 games in 2016. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, Gurriel has been the Astros starting first baseman and has been almost indestructible based on the proportion of games he played in the five seasons since then.
In the five seasons starting in 2017 the Astros have made it to the ALCS all five times. Gurriel has been a big part of that run.
His career stats are .293/.337/.467/.804. That is good for any player at any age, but really good for a guy in his 32-37 age years. Gurriel has been a rock at 1B and that is the reason we didn’t have to keep Singleton or White around.
One more reminder: In his age 37 year the Astros’ first baseman was the American League Batting Champion and the Gold Glove winner. and is signed for the 2022 season for a bargain price of $8 million.
Getting Gurriel and then keeping him has been one of the Astros best moves ever.
That Gurriel led baseball’s best hitting team in hit’s, batting average and on base percentage at age 37 is something special.
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And with more good news, the Twins signed Hank Conger to be 1st Base/Catcher Coach. He is also going to work with the team on their Robot Dance Moves.
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In going through statistics to comment on Gurriel, I came across something amazing. Of the 26 first basemen who qualified for whatever by having enough ABs to get awards, only one first baseman is considered a plus defender.
I’m serious. DJ La May Hue is the only good defender at 1B according to Fangraphs. If you don’t believe me check out this ranking of players at that position and it includes ALL of the big names playing at that position
Fangraphs defensive ratings are so screwed up they don’t believe there are any plus fielders out there. Their war ranking is all the way to the right and their defensive prowess is second from the right. Nope, Olson is a bad fielder, too!
Great pickup there, OP.
I tend to hardly ever quote defensive stats because I really don’t believe in them. It is one of the few areas where I go with my eye test on players. I know my eyes can’t tell me things about players’ ranges, but when I look at stats like that, it seems like it is an area that is suffering from the ability to adjust to what the shift does to the fielders.
When Jeff Bagwell was doing some booth work this year, he was talking about what it was like to be a first baseman when you are shifted over because it is a pull hitting right hander hitting. He said people don’t realize what it is like to run back to the base with your back to the fielder, turn and try and pick up where the ball is that is already on the way, especially when you have a bullet thrower like Cammy or Correa (or a wild child like Villar).
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The AL Gold Glove winner at 1B is a negative fielder. I just want to laugh out loud at people who think they have it all figured out with formulas.
Last year Fangraphs had Kyle Tucker rated as the best fielding RFer in the AL until about halfway through the season and then his stats changed to make him a negative fielder overnight.
I contacted Fangraphs about it and they never returned my e-mail.
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Eyup, I don’t pay much attention to fangraphs.
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First I agree with your choices for awards. I might put Yuli ahead of KTuck, and then again I might not. I certainly would put Yuli ahead of Correa this year.
Not any criticism of Stromie, but his departure and almost immediate signing with Arizona seems strange. I hope he left enough info and perception with his much younger replacements.
With Strom leaving and then taking another job so quickly, seems to me there had to be some kind of conflict in house. Unless I missed it, Click did not have a whole lot to say about his departure. Maybe they only had room for one old guy.
We probably won’t get the full story. There are lots of scenarios that seem plausible. Strom mentioned the other guys being ready to take over. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d tendered his resignation a long time prior to the announcement. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Click told him it was time to move on. I can’t imagine why the organization would have wanted to let go of him unless they were afraid his retirement was imminent and wanted to get it out of the way when they had someone they felt comfortable in handing the reigns. In other words, maybe it’s like the Jay Leno – Conan O’Brien thing.
Another slow baseball day. So WAY off topic, I was reading about some of the contention between the Players and Owners. One was how many teams and how many games in the playoffs. I did not know that all of that TV revenue goes to the owners. So I could see where “overtime” not being compensated might cause a labor dispute. It appears on the legal side, the courts are reluctant to dig into the 1922 decision that “Baseball” is exempt from federal law because it is NOT interstate commerce and is only “exhibition games” subject to state laws. So the owners do not want to give up their God Given and Supreme Court Given rights to continue to screw the ballplayers and fans. Then to get paid millions to play a game that most would be willing to get paid -0- seems to be a little off base also.