2021 Roster Review: Houston Astros

95-67 (1st in Division; 4th in MLB)


SP Wins: 63 (2nd)

RP Wins: 32 (19th)

Saves: 34 (23rd)

1+ Save: 6 (Ryan Pressly 26, Cristian Javier, Ryne Stanek, Brooks Raley 레일리 2, Brandon Bielak, Bryan Abreu 1)

100+ Ks: 5 (Lance McCullers Jr. 185, Luis Garcia 167, Javier 130, Framber Valdez 125, Zack Greinke 120)

.260+ AVG (min. 350 PA): 8 (Yuli Gurriel .319, Michael Brantley .311, Kyle Tucker .294, Carlos Correa .279, Jose Altuve .278, Yordan Alvarez .277, Alex Bregman .270, Myles Straw .262 [total: .271])

65+ Runs: 6 (Altuve 117, Correa 104, Alvarez 92, Gurriel, Tucker 83, Brantley 68)

65+ RBI: 5 (Alvarez 104, Correa, Tucker 92, Altuve 83, Gurriel 81)

10+ HRs: 8 (Alvarez 33, Altuve 31, Tucker 30, Correa 26, Gurriel 15, Chas McCormick 14, Bregman, Martin Maldonado 12)

5+ SBs: 3 (Straw 17, Tucker 14, Altuve 5)

BEST BUY: Ryan Pressly

With the dearth of bankable closers, Pressly has become one of the go-to guys. Pressly had just 26 SVs last year, a figure topped by 10 other relievers, but he deserved better. The Astros had a weirdly low 34 SVs as a team, well below the 46-SV average from the 11 teams with at least 90 wins. The Blue Jays joined them as the only teams in that group under 42 SVs (they tied HOU’s total of 34). I see Houston remaining strong and Pressly notching at least 30 SVs in 2022 with a reasonable shot at leading the league.

ON THE RISE: Yordan Alvarez

The 25-year-old regained OF eligibility during an excellent return season that has assuaged many of the fears about his health. He hit .277/.346/.531 with 33 HR and 104 RBI in 598 PA. Staying healthy and getting back into the outfield were huge after essentially missing 2020 (9 PA) due to a pair of knee surgeries that were alarming for such a young player. While he is not devoid of injury risk (who is?!), the 2021 season has severely curbed that risk and not having to fill the UT spot has added to his appeal and made him a 2nd-3rd rounder. It is weird to have such a top flight player labeled as “On the Rise”, but he feels like a .270-30-90-90 lock if he remains healthy with his dream season upside being a Triple Crown contender.

OFF THE RADAR: Cristian Javier

Look, I was dead wrong in my prediction that he would return to the rotation in the second half, switching with Luis Garcia to keep the workloads of both in check. Instead, they let Garcia go 155.3 innings while Javier didn’t start again after May 23rd, en route to 101.3 innings. Javier doesn’t have a projected rotation spot right now with Justin Verlander returning, but Verlander is 39 years old returning from Tommy John surgery, Lance McCullers Jr.

HOT TAKE: Alex Bregman returns to a double-digit SB total in 2022. This is a bet on health and choice. Bregman grinded through 2021 with a strained quad eating up over two months of time and was successful in his lone try to steal a base. Even in the healthy 2019, he was just 5-for-6, so why a return to 10+? I feel like it has been a mix of low desire (in each of the last 3 seasons) and then the health in 2021 holding his count down. With his excellent on base ability, chances aren’t the question, it’s a matter of desire returning. I think it does in 2022, at least to a degree. Bregman gets 11 SBs in 2022!

ICYMI: Chas McCormick still has the greatest picture on the NFBC site, but he also quietly smacked 14 HR while adding 4 SB in 320 PA of work hinting at full-season potential around 20 HR/10 SB. There isn’t an obvious CF option in the free agent market for them to acquire after the lockout ends so I think there is a good shot at McCormick playing quite a bit in 2022.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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6 months ago

Love me some Yordan!