Monday, December 2, 2019

Uncustomed Heroes of 2019: Astros

The Houston Astros very nearly won their second World Series. Or, if they hadn't have cheated, their first World Series. But, thanks to the gradual overpowering of the Nationals, they wound up in second place, which is where they belong for stealing signs. Or, like...much lower than 2nd. 18th. Yeah.

Regardless, Yordan Alvarez and Justin Verlander won awards this year, possibly outside of any cheating attempts. Alvarez is a powerful hitter in the same vein as Dave Parker, and Verlander is a Hall of Famer next decade.

Jake Marisnick, after a disappointing 2018, came back as a member of the outfield platoon with Josh Reddick. Though Reddick had the better year, Marisnick had a higher slugging percentage.
Why Him in 2019?: He was the bench player extraordinaire for the AL Champion team.
2020 Prediction: Marisnick will not end the season on the Astros' active roster.

 Zack Greinke was the biggest name dealt at the deadline, and he did not disappoint in Houston, going 8-1 with a 3.02 in the regular season. His postseason numbers were less consistent, as he was felled by Tampa, and failed to garner a playoff win.
Why Him in 2019?: His move to Houston is the most important one in terms of getting the Astros to the postseason. Said trade also moves Josh Rojas and Seth Beer to Arizona, and both could be deadly soon.
2020 Prediction: This will be Greinke's last Cy Young-caliber year, and the last year the sportswriters will use to make a HOF case.

 Jose Urquidy was an odd household name for this Astros team, but he burst onto the scene in June and slowly became a rotation asset, especially during the postseason.
Why Him in 2019?: Got the win in Game 4 of the World Series, which isn't bad for a rookie.
2020 Prediction: Will edge Peacock out of a starting spot and become a solid sleeper hit in a full year in Houston.
Aaron Sanchez was a deadline deal for the Astros that paid off for a few weeks before an injury robbed them of the strong Sanchez for the rest of the year.
Why Him in 2019?: One of his starts was a combined no-hitter, also featuring Sanchez' trade-mate Joe Biagini.
2020 Prediction: Will be a solid third to Verlander and Greinke. (EDIT- so much for that! Hopefully someone good picks him up)

 The proposed fifth-starter, Brad Peacock, was injured for a lot of this year, and despite his strong starting numbers, ended the season as a member of the bullpen staff.
Why Him in 2019?: His injury paved the way for Jose Urquidy, and, eventually, Zack Greinke.
2020 Prediction: Peacock will be back to a primary bullpen man, though a few late-season starts will boost his free agency appeal for 2021.
The Astros' big rookie this year, at least according to Topps, was Kyle Tucker. It's not as if they wasted their time they should have spent on Alvarez or anything. Tucker had 22 glorious games for Houston, 6 less than he did in 2018, and had a .269 average with 11 RBIs and his first 4 home runs. His postseason numbers were a little more sparse.
Why Him in 2019?: He had a better rookie campaign than he did in 2018, his ACTUAL rookie campaign.
2020 Prediction: A boosted lineup appearance. By the postseason, he'll be starting games.

 Machete Maldonado, for the second year in a row, ended the year in an Astros uniform, though his 2018 (with a solid campaign for Anaheim), was a bit more stable than his 2019 (being Salvador Perez' replacement, getting traded to Chicago for no reason only to land in Houston a week later). Maldonado's 32 games as an Astro weren't as starry as his time there last year, but he had a better OPS than he did in Kansas City
Why Him in 2019?: Machete had a .312 average in the postseason, and made up for a quieter run in 2018.
2020 Prediction: Either some club will sign him as a backup or Houston will make him their full-time, because his 2019 was a nice preview of his abilities.

 3 years after his ASG nomination, Will Harris had his best full season yet, ending the year with a 1.50 ERA, and notching 62 strikeouts in 60 innings.
Why Him in 2019?: In a messy year for the Astros' bullpen, Harris was the sole constant.
2020 Prediction: A team that's kinda out of the question will sign Harris, and he'll help them contend. I'd say someone like the White Sox or Cardinals?
And one more Topps-lauded rookie for the road. Josh James came in as a threat to start, but found his calling in the bullpen, notching 100 strikeouts in 61 innings, and being an impressive postseason asset, despite giving up some crucial runs in the World Series.
Why Him in 2019?: He was the best, and most prolific, rookie pitcher for the Astros.
2020 Prediction: He'll snag Harris' spot in the bullpen and expand on his already-strong 2019.

Coming Tomorrow- Those impressive Wild-Card-contending Oakland A's.

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