Astros’ postseason: A couple of lists

Just for fun – here are a couple of Postseason lists as judged by your loyal scribe.

Top Ten Astros for the 2022 Playoffs

  1. Jeremy Pena. In the 13-game postseason, he led the team in BA (.345), OPS (1.005), runs scored (12), hits (20), and home runs (4) and tied for first with 5 doubles. His solo home run won the ALDS 18-inning marathon with the M’s, and he was MVP of both the ALCS and WS. He seemed to be a key figure in most of the Astros’ run-scoring innings.
  2. Framber Valdez. After a poor performance in the 2021 World Series, Framber had something to prove, and he did. He was 3-0 in four starts, had 33 Ks in 25 innings with a 0.88 WHIP, and kept things under control except for one solo home run in the 6th game victory over the Phils.
  3. Yordan Alvarez. He mostly stunk things up, but….they don’t win the first game of the playoffs against the M’s without his walk-off shot heard around the world, and they don’t turn the last game of the World Series into the last game without his grand shot over the batter’s eye in center. Even while hitting .192, he easily led the team with 14 RBIs over these 13 games.
  4. Ryan Pressly. I’ll just say it straight. This was the finest single postseason performance by an Astros closer in the history of the club. Whether the closer was named Dave Smith, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Ken Giles, Roberto Osuna or even Pressly in previous seasons, there were always hiccoughs and sometimes season-ending problems at the end of games. Pressly was 6 for 6 in save opportunities and gave up one unearned run in 10 games and 11 innings of work.
  5. Alex Bregman. Even with a few struggles in the World Series, Bregman was the second-best hitter overall in the postseason with a sterling slash of .294 BA/ .379 OBP/ .948 OPS. He had 11 RBIs and 3 HRs, none bigger than the 2 run homer that set up Alvarez’s walk-off in the first game of the playoffs.
  6. Cristian Javier. He probably should be higher on this list, and if he had more than two starts he would be. His start to an eventual no-hitter in the fourth game of the World Series emboldened his teammates and flipped the series on its ear. The Phils’ offense never really returned after that game.
  7. Bryan Abreu. Before the season, many folks were wondering if this was a last chance for Abreu to find a spot on the team. By the end of the season, he was a prime member of the bullpen, and in the postseason he was a dominant force throwing 11.1 innings of scoreless baseball in 10 appearances with 19 Ks. He looks like a future closer or perhaps a future starter with the stuff he showed.
  8. Yuli Gurriel. In what may or may not be Yuli’s last hurrah as an Astro, he bounced back from a poor showing in the regular season to have a very effective postseason. His .350 BA and his .850 OPS were strong and a guy who had 8 HRs in 545 regular season ABs, launched 2 HRs in 49 ABs in the post season.
  9. Rafael Montero. This may feel weird as the last time we saw him he had to have Pressly come save his tail in Game 5 of the World Series. However, considering he was pretty overexposed having been used in 10 of the first 12 postseason games and four of the first five WS games, he did well. He could not have thought when he left Seattle in the middle of 2021 with a 7.27 ERA and almost immediately getting injured in Houston that he would be the high leveraged eighth inning reliever for a World Champion.
  10. Luis Garcia. Garcia had one of the most impactful relief appearances for the Astros as he was the winner in the 18-inning ALDS clincher. He threw 5 scoreless innings where any bobble in the first four innings would have ended the game in the Mariners’ favor.

The most amazing fact connected with this top 10 list is that it does not contain the names of Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, Jose Altuve or Kyle Tucker. But this shows the depth of this team’s talent and clutchness (if there is such a word).

Top 5 Astro Playoff Games in 2022

The Astros won 11 games on the way to their title. Which five were the top games?

  1. Game 6 of the World Series – There are arguments for other games, but this is the one that ended it all. The game featured terrific Astro pitching, including Valdez, Neris, Abreu and Pressly, an opposing manager making a move that only prodded the sleeping giant, and the sleeping giant, Yordan Alvarez hitting the shot that keeps getting repeated on the fans’ DVRs.
  2. Game 1 of the ALDS – This looked like what could be the beginning of the end for the Astros. They were losing at home 5-0 behind their superior ace, Justin Verlander and looked like they might get steamrolled by the highly enthusiastic Mariners. The bullpen held the M’s mostly in check and an 8th inning swat by Bregman brought them within breathing distance. Two very tough at bats by rookies David Hensley and Jeremy Pena set the table and Manager Scott Servais brought in non-reliever Robbie Ray, who served up a game ending fastball to Air Yordan.
  3. Game 3 of the ALDS – The Mariners’ home stadium was practically on fire with excitement as their team took the field for the first home playoff game since 2001. Eighteen exhausting innings later their team’s season was over. Eight Astro pitchers had stymied them and Jeremy Pena hit the deciding home run into a disappointed crowd in a 1-0 game that Astro fans thought would be lost long before it was won.
  4. Game 4 of the World Series – The Astros had been stunned in the opener, had then tied it up in Game 2 and then had been spanked by the Phillies and their 5 home runs 7-0 in Game 3 of the series. This was the game that would either change the momentum and give the Astros a two out of three series or it might bury the Astros in a 3-1 hole. Cristian Javier and his bullpen compadres threw a no hitter at a red hot Phills’ offense and the Astros ran off with a 5 run rally in the fifth, facilitated by Manager Rob Thomson throwing reliever Jose Alvarado to the lions in a no out bases loaded situation. He plunked Yordan and gave up a huge double to Bregman to spring board the rally. The Astros won and never looked back.
  5. Game 1 of the ALCS – The Yankees were hot and bothered for revenge against the Astros, who had eliminated them in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Justin Verlander was coming off a shaky start in the ALDS and the team’s offense had looked anemic in the 18 inning win over the M’s. Verlander struck out 11 over 6 innings of 1 run ball and the offense featured mostly the end of the lineup as Martin Maldonado doubled in Chas McCormick, who also homered after a homer by Yuli Gurriel and before a homer by Jeremy Pena. The Astros never took their foot off the Yankees’ throats as they swept them off the board in four games.

Your turn – how would you rank players and games for this postseason?

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38 comments on “Astros’ postseason: A couple of lists

  1. The fact that a WS no-hitter is #4 on this list tells everything about how great the playoffs were for us, the fans.
    I have replayed Yordan’s series winning home run every day since it happened. Most exciting Astros moment for me, ever, because of how the 2017 memories have been tarnished by all the people constantly bringing it up. I will cherish this WS till the day I die.
    I don’t think Ryan Pressly got enough credit for what he did this fall.
    Chas McCormick gets into my top 10 performances. Probably at #7. Check back on how he hit earlier than the playoffs. But that catch in Philly is in my top 5 plays of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely some room for debate. I’m glad we have so many amazing memories from this postseason. On the players, I would not discount Altuve’s contributions. He didn’t make the game saving plays on defense or hit the HRs that Alvarez did, but every time we saw him in the dugout or on the field the impression I got was that he provided the leadership the team needed.

    In terms of games, my opinion is game 4 of the WS was more meaningful because it was a complete momentum shift more so than the fact Bryce Harper got no-hit and his fanboys at FOX had to see it happen. The Alvarez HR in 6 was magical and an event that in a few years from now we’ll find out a couple million people in Houston were sitting just a row or two over from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some random thoughts about the Astros:
    * Maldonado is locked in for 2023 and he might be a better hitter without a broken hand or a hernia. Fixing the hernia may allow him to work out more on the machines and take more batting practice.
    * Winning the WS and having most of the team returning is a mighty attractive draw for international and regular free agents, including Verlander and Brantley.
    * Will Wagner is turning heads in the Arizona Fall League. Expect him to shoot up the Astros Top 30 Prospects List by spring.
    * Crane didn’t want to mess with the young starting pitching core of Urquidy, Valdez, Garcia and Javier for 2023. It’s his team. People say that Click has done a great job, but I say Crane has done a masterful job. And I’m a guy who absolutely didn’t like him when he bought the team.
    * When you paid a 37 year old pitcher with a Cy Young Award in his grasp 2/$66 million, is he now worth more than that as a 40 year old pitcher with a Cy Young Award in his grasp. I would ask Jim Crane. This is a tough decision.

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    • For those of us that think we can do more important things with Verlander’s money, that’s good news. And if our owner thought Verlander was essential in 2023, I think he would have already gotten a deal done over dinner.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wouldn’t count out JV at this point. Remember last year he was a free agent for like one day when all of a sudden he was re-signed. But, again that may depend on what Crane thinks and whether they can agree on duration. It is pretty clear that Crane is very much into sustainability of this team and he may think that though JV is great they can use that money elsewhere if it is tied up for 3 or 4 years.

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      • I would bring back JV unless the cost is north of crazy.

        I get that everyone loves Brown, but the guy will probably have just as many 4.2 IP, 5 hits, 4 walks with 4 ER run outings as 7 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 1 run outings next year. He is a walking highlight reel. He is also going to frustrate you more than you are hoping for. Might be moot because even without JV – Brown is going to have to pitch his way into this rotation. Urquidy isn’t just going to roll over and give him his job. That said, if Brown is in this team’s future, now might be the time to absorb those growing pains while he can do it at the bottom of the rotation.

        Now, we don’t really get to decide. We know Crane loves JV. We know he has salary cap space to absorb resigning JV even at 40 mil a year, and STILL go out and improve 1B and or CF, and STILL bring back Brantley. He has the space for all of it, and I think he will do it. He will certainly do it differently than I would.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Getting back to the big inning of Game 6, I re-watch that and things pop up
    – Maldy was so smart and brave – he got right up on the plate – far closer than his previous at bat, but he was in a position that he could get hit while still retracting his hand from the plate. Now who does that with a broken left hand – I don’t know, but it kicked off the inning
    – Altuve had his bat broken and it took a little of the speed off the grounder to third, but if he is not absolutely busting his tail, he gets doubled up. His hustle avoids the double play and keeps hope alive in the inning
    – Pena did what he did all post season – he went with the pitch – it was just a solid single past the pitcher, but if he tries to pull it – he likely is going back to the dugout with Altuve after a DP
    – One of the awesome things about Yordan’s at bat is that the pitch before he launches his homer is chin music at 99 mph. It would be human nature to be hesitant to stay in there for the next pitch (again at 99 mph) which he had to lean down to reach. He stayed in there with his insane solid base and just torched it – I will never forget that moment
    – In retrospect looking at the decision to bring in Alvarado….In game 1 they brought in Alvarado to face Yordan and he got him to pop up. Game 4 he came in and hit him on the first pitch with the bases loaded. In Game 5 he started the inning against Altuve and when Yordan came up he popped up again. So, Thomson thought he was safe with Alvarado, thinking if he hadn’t plunked him he would not have gotten on base against him in three attempts. But he wasn’t safe thank goodness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan, the next time you go back to game 6 of the WS, check out the 9th inning and look at the swings the Phillies took on their first out and their last out. They are almost identical and on Pressly pitches that are both 6 inches outside

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  5. The entire postseason was incredible. 11-2. Two sweeps. All but 2 games were wire. Clutch. Nothing more fun than watching clutch, close baseball. Well, a back and forth college football game is a ball too. The real MVPs were the fans at MMP. The trolling of Yankee fans with the “we want Houston” chants were classic.

    The first round bye, or at least sitting through it, sucked. I think baseball has to really consider these short series, watching 2 100+ win teams go home to obviously inferior teams has to be disappointing to those fan bases, but the shorter the series the more likely it is to happen. The Mariners could have easily done it to us. I am not going to lie, I would have MUCH rather seen the Astros/Dodgers hook up for what would have been an instant classic. But a win is a win, and I am happy to be a fan of the king of the mountain for 2022.

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  6. People are standing and sitting in line right now in Pasadena and Meyerland. Some have been there since last night, including lady first in line recovering from cancer……to get Altuve’s autograph. Jose, you mean you can’t get out there right now and give her an autograph and let her go home from this heat and humidity? I always thought you were a “true” Christian. And not just you, but
    any multimillion-dollar Astro? Where in the name of your Father is
    your heart? Could you possibly make a little extra effort here?

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    • Diane – are you saying he is late?
      Meyer land and Pasadena are far apart – is he supposed to be both places now?
      Sometimes it’s not the guy it’s the scheduler

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      • Dan, no, he’s not late. My understanding is ‘Tuve is at Pasadena; Bregman at Meyerland. Even if I’m wrong about that, a line began to
        form yesterday and at the front of it is a woman who just beat cancer; she wants Altuve’s autograph. I’m just wondering if some of these stars couldn’t just go out of their way at this time to help people who are such incredible fans. Apparently the ‘Stros mean everything to these people, which probably isn’t right, not saying it is, but if I’m a wealthy star who just won the World Series, why don’t
        I get out there and start signing early? I’m open to correction if I do not understand properly.

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    • Diane, perhaps Altuve did not know this woman was waiting like that. Also, there was a time period for this. Are you suggesting that he change his plans to accommodate this person? She is the one who chose to get in this line and wait.

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      • sargeh, I probably should not have verbalized this. Guess in world we live in, I’m always looking for a superhero. It was hot and humid and I was thinking why not go out at least a few hours early and get these people off the street. That’s probably asking too much and I’m
        living in a dream world. Thank you for your comment. Undoubtedly, you are the rational one!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Back in the day, we never seemed to have quality catching prospects around. Now, besides viable candidates at AAA and AA, we’ve got J.C Correa learning the job at A+. And he keeps hitting .300 with high on base skills. He could be a heck of a versatile utility guy before long.

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  8. I’ve seen several videos on what the Astros do with their roster for next year.
    JV has opted out (Resign or wave bye)
    FA players:
    Yuli
    Brantley
    Diaz
    Montero
    Castro
    Do we get a new 1st baseman?
    Changes to the outfield?
    Catcher? Maldonado signed through 2023
    Keep all starting pitching or trade for a bat?

    Good topic for your writing prowess Dan.

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    • I’m looking at the MLBTraderumors top 50 free agents and prediction article right now. I have to say it feels really good to be looking at the names and thinking it would be foolish to sign most of these guys as we already have someone on the team that’s as good or better. I look forward to the upcoming DanP article and discussion on this subject as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Here is a brain-teaser for the off-season:

    What is the best we should hope for in 2023 [if we keep them] out of:
    1. Hunter Brown;
    2. Chaz McCormick;
    3. David Hensley;
    4. Yainer Diaz;
    5. Korey Lee;
    6. JJ Matejevich;
    7. Corey Julks;
    8. Justin Dirden;
    9. Forrest Whitley; and
    10. Parker Mushinski

    Are any of these guys likely to be contributors to a 2023 pennant run?

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    • 1. Hunter Brown-That he makes the team out of Spring training.
      2. Chaz McCormick- That he is the regular CFer and raises his game by picking up 10 points on his BA, 20 points on his OBP and lowers his K rate some.
      3. David Hensley-that he makes the team out of ST as a utility guy.
      4. Yainer Diaz- That he is in the starting lineup on opening day.
      5. Korey Lee- That he is the 2nd catcher on opening day.
      6. JJ Mat.- That he has a good ST and a good showing in AAA in the first couple of months.
      7. Corey Julks- That he gets added to the roster this month and goes to ST with the team.
      8. Justin Dirden- That he gets an invite to ST and impresses and heads to Sugarland and rakes there for the summer and forces his way to the Astros by September.
      9. Forrest Whitley- That he becomes an asset, rather than a liability in 2023.
      10. That he gains strength and adds some pep to his fastball to go with that plus breaking stuff and makes it hard to keep him out of the Astros bullpen by the summer.

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  10. I don’t really get this business of the Astros still being linked to Contreas. Why get involved with a marginal backstop that will require 4 years? Seems like we’ll have a healthier Maldy back, along with Lee and Diaz, with further catching depth potentially on the horizon.

    The only real explanation to me would be that the Astros have decided they want guys that can create offense at every position.

    So that means they’ll also sign Abreu or Bell, Nimmo and our old friend Uncle Mike.

    I’m not sure where you’d put each guy, but that would be a heck of a nine.

    Altuve
    Nimmo
    Alvarez
    Bregman
    Tucker
    Abreu/Bell
    Brantley
    Pena
    Contreas

    Yikes, that might be fun. Could all those guys be happy?

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  11. This is not a surprise to me.
    The Contreras story is not the reason for this. That story is just a reflection of the bigger picture between Click and the team.
    There must have been very large differences between the way Click wanted to run the team and the plan that Crane had developed with Luhnow on how to operate the team to continue it’s success.
    Add to that, differences between the way Baker wanted to manage the team and the way Click wanted baker to manage the team and you have major conflict developing in multiple sectors of management.
    Crane didn’t make the offer of one year to Click to embarrass him. He made the offer to show Click the way out of the building.
    Now Crane gets to look for a GM who is willing to add their experience to Crane’s vision of the Astros, post scandal and as the defending WS champion.

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    • Obviously the two were far, far apart from a philosophy standpoint. I think it would have been better to simply not offer the 1 year deal, give him a bonus and thank him for his efforts. Essentially, Click was fired after winning the World Series.

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    • Makes sense to me. Mad Dog Russo says he wasn’t surprised either and understood the move. Obviously there were differences of opinions between Click, Crane, and Dusty.

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    • To add to that, the one year deal had to be seen as an insult given the speculation from fans that Crane will bring Stearns back after 2023. To hire him now would require buying out his contract from Milwaukee, I believe.

      Like

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