Now that we are halfway through Spring Training, we have a decent sample size of Astros who are off to a fast start and who are struggling. So the staff at Climbing Tal’s Hill this week will be discussing who their preseason picks for team MVP and team Cy Young winner. Again, if any readers would like to hear our thoughts on a specific question or topic surrounding the Houston Astros, please post them in the comments section and we will discuss it next week.
Who do you think will be the team’s MVP this year?
Brandon: Looking at this team right now and who has been playing well so far this spring, the favorite to be the team’s MVP has to be outfielder Hunter Pence. He is just entering his prime and has hit 25 HRs each of the past three seasons and hit 91 RBI, the most in any season of his career. He has picked up this spring right where he has left off last year and is hitting .368 with two triples and four RBI. Now that Lance Berkman is gone, Pence will need to take more of an active role as a leader and combining all these factors will get him the title of team MVP.
Trevor:Based on his finish last year when healthy, Wandy Rodriguez. If his shoulder is 100% going into the season this year, he is capable of putting up Cy Young winning numbers. WayRod will post 17 wins and a sub 3 ERA for the ‘Stros this year if the offense gives him the home field support of which he has been a recipient of these past few years. If Wandy fails to produce, Lee will have a bounce back year regardless with 27/100/.300 numbers this year.
Jesse:The easy answer to this question is probably Hunter Pence. He has been very consistent in his first three seasons, and if he can get off to a good first half then he has the potential to put up a huge year. He is however not the player that I think is the most important to the Astros success this year. That player, and possibly the surprise candidate for the team’s MVP this year would be Brett Wallace. At this point we know what Pence, Lee, and Bourn bring to the table. Chris Johnson may not put up the numbers he put up last season, but will probably have a decent season. However, If all of those players produce as they have in the past and Wallace puts up a year similar to what he has done on a yearly basis in the minors, then the Astros would go from having an offense with a lot of question marks to that of a respectable offense. If Wallace hits like he did in the minors then I think he could upset Hunter for this year’s team MVP.
Greg:Others may disagree but I think Carlos Lee will be the Astros MVP this season. Obviously last year was a down year, but unlike the detractors I am not ready to give up on El Caballo. People are quick to forget that Lee batted .300 or better and drove in 100 or more runs in each of his first three seasons with the Astros. Lee also had a very good August in 2010, driving in almost a run per game. So get back on the horse Astros fans, and enjoy the ride.
Who do you think will be the team’s top pitcher this year?
Brandon:If he finishes the year as an Astro, Brett Myers will be the top pitcher on the Astros’ staff. His performance last year was by far one of the biggest surprises. Myers was an after thought by many fans and expectations were low heading into 2010. He went on to go 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA and two complete games. He was the workhorse of the staff and the ace once Oswalt was traded. I expect him to continue his success in 2011 as he is in a place and organization where he is comfortable. The team will need him to be a leader on the staff and the ace of this squad.
Trevor:As stated above, Rodriguez. The movement on his curve is comparable to any in the MLB if not superior. If he can log 200 innings, he will support it with 15+ wins, 200+ K’s, and an ERA below 3. Myers is dependable, but Wandy has incredible upside that should be displayed this season. From the bullpen, I see Wilton Lopez finishing the year as the team’s closer and having an ERA below 2.70 in the process.
Jesse:I think that the team’s top pitcher this year will be Wandy Rodriguez. As consistent as Brett Myers is, Wandy’s strikeout numbers are just to hard to ignore. With the exception of a poor start to last season, Wandy has toed the line of being a good pitcher at times and being an elite left-hander at others. His development has came along painstakingly slow up to this point, and if he finally puts everything together for a full season then his name could be mentioned in the same sentence of the elites this year. The continued development of his changeup and a full season of buying into Arnsberg’s program are other factors that could have Wandy primed to enjoy an outstanding season.
Greg:Pitching was the Astros strong suit last year with Brett Myers leading the way. I look for J.A. Happ to rise to the occasion this year and become the team’s most reliable moundsman. The big lefty had a few dominant outings after joining the Astros last year, but lacked consistency. A full season with pitching Guru Brad Arnsberg should help solve that issue.