Heading into the 2022 season, one could put together a list of the Top 10 Astros and it might include many of the usual subjects like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr.
But for fun, today we will look at the Top 10 based on value to the club vs. their salaries. Sure, there are some guys who would be on both lists, but it is still a fun exercise.
Here is a little chart based on the players’ WAR last year and taking that times $7 million for their estimated value vs. their 2021 salary. ($7 million / unit of WAR is one of those numbers tossed out by the nerds and I am certainly one of those).
|Name||2021 WAR||WAR X $7 MM||2021 Salary||Difference|
|Kyle Tucker||5.7||$39.9 MM||$560 K||$39.3 MM|
|Yordan Alvarez||3||$21 MM||$560 K||$20.4 MM|
|Yuli Gurriel||3.7||$25.9 MM||$6.5 MM||$19.4 MM|
|Lance McCullers Jr./td>||3.5||$24.5 MM||$6.5 MM||$18 MM|
|Luis Garcia||2.6||$18.2 MM||$560 K||$17.6 MM|
|Framber Valdez||2.5||$17.5 MM||$560 K||$16.9 MM|
|Chas McCormick||2.3||$16.1 MM||$560 K||$15.5 MM|
|Jose Urquidy||2.1||$14.7 MM||$560 K||$14.1 MM|
|Cristian Javier||1.4||$9.8 MM||$560 K||$9.2 MM|
|Aledmys Diaz||1.6||$11.2 MM||$3 MM||$8.2 MM|
Of interest, three of their better-paid everyday players ended up with “differences” that were positive but not in the neighborhood of the Top 10 – Jose Altuve ($1.8 MM), Michael Brantley ($1.5 MM) and Alex Bregman ($1.7 MM). The only players with significant playing time that were in the negative zone were Jake Odorizzi (-$4.1 MM) and Zack Greinke (-$26.6 MM), who could not produce commensurate with their salaries.
Obviously, not everyone agrees on WAR as a great comparison stat or that $7 million times that is a good factor for calculating values. But in general, this does show the value that the guys who outperform their salaries bring to any team.
- Kyle Tucker – Tucker is still on the “rookie” salary until he becomes arb-eligible going into 2023 (or if the new labor agreement changes his status). At a similar point, the Astros upped Carlos Correa from the minimum salary to $1 million. Tucker put up 5.7 WAR in 2021. He led the team easily in WAR, while playing at a bargain-basement rate.
- Yordan Alvarez – Yordan is Tucker without the glove value. Still, he had the 5th highest WAR on the team while playing at that minimum salary. When you look at what he did in 2019, when he produced 3.8 WAR in only 87 games, he has been amazingly productive at the league minimum.
- Yuli Gurriel – At number three, Yuli demonstrates you don’t have to be at a minimum salary to bring high value to your club. He probably is also the poster boy for a team signing a player after an uncharacteristically poor season as a bargain. He looked washed up and instead was great in 2021 in winning the AL batting title and putting up his career-best OBP number, and he is lined up to do the same in 2022.
- Lance McCullers – In his last season before his 5 year/ $85 MM extension kicks in, LMJ put up almost the same WAR as Yuli, while making the same very reasonable salary. Will he be able to stay healthy enough to outperform his salary in the years to come? Ah, there may be the rub.
- Luis Garcia – Back to the young guy bargain bin as the Astros best rookie turned his cha-cha three-step into a kick-butt season. As Garcia and a number of the other youngsters on the pitching staff show, getting an effective starter at minimum rates brings tremendous value to any team.
- Framber Valdez – Except for his broken finger that delayed his debut by a couple months, Framber could well have been #2 on this list as he probably missed out on more than 1 WAR and $7 MM of additional value. And Framber has one more season before arbitration kicks in to bring extra value to the team.
- Chas McCormick – For someone who was mostly a fourth OF before the Myles Straw trade and only played in 108 games, Chas brought terrific value to the 2021 Astros. Those 47 runs scored and 50 RBIs brought value along with playing well in the field in centerfield.
- Jose Urquidy – Considering he missed a couple weeks in May and all of July and August, Jose left some value on the table just like Framber. He has another season before arbitration sets in (under existing rules) and three seasons control after that.
- Cristian Javier – What would Javier have earned if he had stayed in the rotation rather than moved to the bullpen? We don’t know, but perhaps we will find out at some time if he earns a spot back in the rotation. Either way, he is the type of arm that brings value however he is used.
- Aledmys Diaz – Perhaps the biggest surprise on this list and a bit of a forgotten man on the team. But remember he had 8 homers and 45 RBIs in only half of the season. If he can ever stay healthy and play a bigger chunk of the season, he surely could put up even bigger and better numbers.
So, there you have it Dan P’s Top 10 value menu for the Astros.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have others you’d like to add or subtract from the list?