2011 Star Performer of the Year


The worst season in the Astros 50 year history is finally over. Their 56-106 record is the worst posted by any MLB team in the last five seasons. Surely someone had a good year. Let’s take a look at the candidates. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence were both having career years but were dealt away at the trading deadline. This would have been a two horse race had they stayed with the team for the full season. But since they didn’t, I feel obliged to declare Bourn and Pence ineligible. I will however award both players with an honorable mention.

This year’s runner-up has to be Wandy Rodriguez. His 11-11 record was an outstanding accomplishment considering the team’s level of play. Despite missing a brief stint with tendinitis, Rodriguez made 30 starts and pretty much duplicated last season’s numbers. Wandy has achieved a level of consistency that seemed to elude him in years past. The lefty has dramatically  improved his road numbers to the point that they are approaching his numbers at home.

 

My choice for this year’s Star Performer Award will not be a popular one with some fans. But the numbers do not lie. Carlos Lee was the most consistent run producer for Houston over the course of the season. Lee’s 94 RBIs ranked eleventh in the league. His 38 doubles ranked fourth. Fangraphs ranks Lee 34th in the N.L. with a 3.1 WAR. Opposing pitchers and managers still fear El Caballo. Lee drew 59 walks on the season and struck out only 60 times.

Lee also showed marked improvement on defense in left-field. El Caballo raised his level of hustle out there and is a master of playing the caroms off the scoreboard. Although Carlos played only 80 games in the outfield, his ten outfield assists ranked sixth in the league. Lee showed some versatility as well, moving to 1B in the middle of the year. His .992 fielding percentage at 1B matched that of two time Gold Glover Albert Pujols.

 

Lee doesn’t get much love from the majority of Astros fans. Some call him an overpaid slob. But I must give credit where credit is due. Lee has one year left on his contract and has said he may retire after next season. So for all of you haters, the end may be near. But expect to see Lee in an Astros uniform again next year.

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Tags: Carlos Lee Houston Astros Hunter Pence Michael Bourn Wandy Rodriguez

  • Stroscrow

    There’s no denying the fact that Carlos Lee had a decent season. I think the negative perception associated with Lee is because of his contract. For example if Lee made 5 million a year then Lee would probably be my favorite player on the team, but the fact that he makes 18.5 million negates that fact. I think Carlos Lee’s outfield assists stats are kind of misleading in terms of his actual arm strength. Carlos has the type of arm that baserunners are going to test more frequently, and because of that he is going to catch some. J.B. Shuck for example has alot of outfield assists in the minors, but has a very sub par arm for a centerfielder. There’s no denying that Carlos had a good year, but he would not be my choice for player of the year. Mine would be probably equally as unpopular, but I would choose Clint Barmes. In terms of WAR Clint Barmes actually tied Carlos Lee for team lead on the season with less games played and plate appearances. I think it would come down to what you value higher, offense or defense. I am a defense kind of guy and there’s no denying that Barmes played solid defense for the Astros this year at a defensive premium position. He also hit 12 homeruns which was nice.

  • Stroscrow

    Speaking of WAR, I have a hard time figuring out that stat. Bud Norris for instance threw 186 innings, averaged 8.52 K/9 with an ERA of 3.76 and only posted a 1.8 WAR. For a reference point Roy Oswalt threw 139 innings with a 6.02 K/9 and a 3.69 ERA and he posts a 2.5 WAR according to Fangraphs. I don’t get it. Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez both posted a 1.5 WAR according to fangraphs but try to tell any Astros fan that Myers was as valuable to the Astros season as Wandy was this year.

  • astrosince1975

    I’m with you on the WAR stat. It’s not an exact formula because different sites have different ratings. I’m not really much on SABR-metrics to begin with (other than O.P.S.) Barmes definitely impressed me with his defense, as I have already gone on record saying so. But he is the most average offensive player in the league. Look at the league average for every-day players and Barmes is pretty much an exact match to those numbers. At least he isn’t below average. But when Houston signed him he was billed as a power threat. Twelve homers is, well… average. J.D. Martinez nearly drove in as many runs as Barmes in a fraction of the plate appearances. So to me Barmes is valuable to the team, but not as valuable as Lee or Wandy. Thanks for the comments.

    • Stroscrow

      @astrosince1975 I think he was only billed to be a power hitter from Ed Wade and co. I don’t think a whole lot of people thought Barmes was going to hit the 25 homers or whatever it was that Wade predicted. The leader for homeruns from a shortstop is 20 from Dickie Thon. To say that Barmes was going to break the team record was a stretch for sure.

      I think that Barmes did what most would expect. Above average defense with average offense. The Astros haven’t had that from a shortstop in a while.

      • astrosince1975

        @Stroscrow Agreed