Friday, December 2, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Astros


Well...the Astros certainly did win a World Series this year.

I'm not saying this as if they weren't the best team. No, they WERE the best team for it. Typically, though, in recent history, the really good regular season teams have hysterical comeuppances, a lot like the Mets and Dodgers did this year. So the Astros being the best all year and waltzing to the end, over much more deserving teams like the Mariners and Phillies...yeah, kinda anticlimactic. They had a hell of a team, so many assets, so many heroes...but yeah, storywise it wasn't a great ending. 

Aledmys Diaz has been the Astros' chief utility man for the last few years, and he had another nice season filling multiple roles for the team well into the playoffs. Diaz hit .243 this year with 12 homers, 38 RBIs and 74 hits. I'm glad he's come into his own in Houston, as he struggled to really find a niche after leaving the Cardinals. 
2023 Prediction: A less-competitive team is gonna sign him and let him start again. 

Luis Garcia might be THE unsung hero of the Astros' rotation at this point. If you've got Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy, the idea is you really don't need anyone else. And yes, by the postseason Garcia was being used as a long reliever. But...Garcia still had some nice stuff for his sophomore season, with a 15-8 record, a 3.72 ERA and 157 Ks. Maybe not as flashy as Valdez or Verlander, but insanely efficient.
2023 Prediction: In a slightly less populous rotation, Garcia will have a true standout season and get an ASG nod. This year was Valdez' turn to emerge, now it's Garcia's.

Martin Maldonado exists solely for his defense at this point, and I think that's fine with the Astros. They got Christian Vazquez as an offensive catcher for the postseason, and they're chasing somebody like Willson Contreras for the long term, but Machete's defense was one of the edges the Astros had during the postseason. That and Machete's tendency to lean all the way over the base, get hit by a pitch and bring up the guy that'll win the Series for them. 

At the plate, though, business as usual for late-career Maldonado. .186 average, a team-low 64 hits, 15 homers and 116 Ks. You don't get him for his offense, though, and Machete earned his ring as a defensive machine, so I've gotta give him that.
2023 Prediction: I'm really thinking they're gonna use Maldy as a backup. If not, they reeeeally should.

The Astros' best relief performance this year came from former Tampa Bay opener Ryne Stanek, who's transitioned admirably from the 1st inning to the eighth. Stanek was rock-solid in 59 appearances, with a shockingly low 1.15 ERA, 62 strikeouts and only 8 runs allowed. While not the comeback that Hector Neris was or the ninth inning year Ryan Pressly had, Stanek was the picture of consistency for a completely unhittable bullpen.
2023 Prediction: Probably won't compare to his 2022, but will still make some crucial postseason appearances for the 'Stros. 

I already documented Christian Vazquez during the regular season, so here's the Astros' other deadline acquisition, Orioles hero Trey Mancini, whose presence on this Astros team at least added a slight silver lining. Mancini, himself truly a holdover at first in between peak Gurriel and the Abreu deal starting next year, did a lackluster job in Houston, hitting below .200 during the regular season and only mustering one hit during the postseason. It could be chalked up to a new team and a new city, but the bottom line is that Mancini finally got to play in the postseason. Hopefully not the last time.
2023 Prediction: Somebody'll sign him as an everyday DH, and he'll hopefully have enough time to get back to his Baltimore-era production. 

Tomorrow, we discuss a few stragglers from the forgettable 2022 A's.

No comments:

Post a Comment