No one knows when the 2022 Spring Training and the season will begin. But we know that every player should be taking this uncertain time to work on areas of their game.
And here at Chipalatta, we are always happy to give our unwanted advice on which areas each of the prime hitters for the Astros should be working…..
Martin Maldonado – Maldonado, coming off a season where he slashed a very poor .172 BA/ .272 OBP/ .573 OPS hardly has an area that does not need improvement. Bad at home, bad on the road, bad against lefties, ghastly against righties and so on. So, let’s take one positive and ask him to apply it elsewhere. In 94 plate appearances leading off innings, he slashed a solid .256 BA/ .351 OBP/ .815 OPS. Check out the film of those ABs and whatever you were doing positively there – apply it elsewhere, Martin.
Yuli Gurriel – Yuli had an amazing season last season, kind of the anti-Maldonado. Great against lefties, very good against righties, excellent at home and on the road. Really difficult to pick a spot for his improvement. So, your assignment Mr. Gurriel is to study what you did last year, including your much-improved knowledge of the strike zone and your climb up the on-base percentage rankings and hit the repeat button.
Jose Altuve – This one is straightforward, Jose. Unless you want to get accused of “IT” again, pick up the pace a bit when on the road. You slashed an excellent .296 BA/ .374 OBP/ .932 OPS at home and a very pedestrian .261 BA / .327 OBP/ .750 OPS on the road with 19 of your 31 HRs at home. Now, this could be because Minute Maid with the short left-field porch suits you better, but it could also be emotional as you may be trying too hard (still) in front of the jeering road fans.
Alex Bregman – The biggest thing with Alex may be just being healthy, having solid legs beneath him, and a good wrist to bring back the power that was missing for much of last season. He also needs to work on hitting better against righties (.254 BA/ .332 OBP/ .754 OPS) since he gets about 2/3 of his ABs against them. And unlike Altuve, Bregman hit pedestrian at home (.244/ .333/ .725) vs. on the road (.297/.377/.830). Plenty to work on Alex.
Michael Brantley – In his career, Brantley has been solidly better against righties than lefties, but probably never did he have as big of a split as he did in 2021. He hit righties like he was George Brett (.363 BA/ .418 OBP/ 924 OPS) while being much more Maldonado-esque against lefties (.219 BA/.261 OBP/ .575 OPS). He’s too much of a great fundamental hitter to not bounce back a bit from that in 2022.
Chas McCormick / Jake Meyers – This is a twofer as these two hitters have the same challenge and the same spot for improvement. McCormick struck out on 32.5% of his plate appearances and walked 7.8% of the time. Meyers struck out on 30.7% of his plate appearances and walked 6.1% of the time. The MLB average was 23.2% for Ks and 8.7% for BBs. They need to make a big step up on the strikeouts and a small step up on the walks in their second time around the majors.
Kyle Tucker – Maybe the first thing Tucker should do is tutor Brantley on hitting left-handed pitchers as he is almost as good against portsiders (.287 BA/.332 OBP/ .910 OPS) as right handers (.299 BA/.376 OBP/ .920 OPS). His numbers on the road are good (.259/ .330/ .832), though dwarfed by his home numbers (.332/.392/1.006). Maybe he could pull those up just a bit….
Yordan Alvarez – Alvarez has outstanding and similar numbers against right handers and lefthanders, and similarly, he is about as good on the road as he is at home. To take the next step, one spot that Tucker improved and that Alvarez needs to address is K%. For strikeout percentage, Tucker has gone from 27.8% in 2019 to 20.2% in 2020 to 15.9% in 2021. Yordan comes off a 2021 where he struck out in 24.3% of his ABs. Improvement in his K% could make him elite.
There are others that I could have critiqued here, but I’ll leave that to you folks if you’d like….