4. The dominance of the top 4 hitters
One of the reasons that Jeff Luhnow felt comfortable adding the players he has this offseason is the core players. We have mentioned all these players at some point, but we have not mentioned Carlos Correa much. Bregman, Springer, and Altuve have been cited as positives from 2016. Correa is the imposing figure in the lineup but is complimented well by the other three hitters. Following up his rookie of the year season is hard. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season.
However, when you have four young, dynamic hitters at the top of your order, they help pick up the slack if one guy struggles. The emergence of Bregman has added to a young core that should stay around for years to come. The team OPS was .735, but each of the young core had an OPS above the teams’.
A look at the core’s stats.
Springer – .815 OPS with 29 homers and 82 RBI’s
Bregman – .791 OPS with eight homers and 34 RBI’s
Altuve – .928 OPS with 24 homers and 92 RBI’s
Correa – .811 OPS with 20 homers and 96 RBI’s
If Bregman and Correa make the next step in 2017, this core of hitters could get dangerous. Hinch mentioned that he would like to keep Springer leading off, but would like Beltran to hit somewhere in the top four spots. He mentioned Bregman could move down in the order, with someone else taking over batting second.
3. Altuve puts up MVP-caliber campaign by Andrew Gleinser.
Though Jose Altuve had already established himself as one of the game’s premier second basemen, his performance took another step forward in 2016. He transformed himself from a leadoff hitter into a true middle-of-the-order threat, coinciding with manager A.J. Hinch’s decision to move him to the third spot in the lineup.
A look at his stats.
Altuve set career highs in homers (24), RBIs (96), runs (108), walks (60), on-base percentage (.396), slugging percentage (.531) and OPS (.928). He led the league in batting average (.338) for the second time. Additionally, he notched his fifth consecutive season with at least 30 stolen bases.
He won his third-straight silver slugger and was named to his fourth All-Star team. Altuve also finished third in the AL MVP voting after finishing 10th in 2015 and 13th in 2014. He notched at least 200 hits and at least 40 doubles for the third consecutive year.
What’s more, Altuve is still just 26 years of age. It may be hard to believe, but he might not have reached his ceiling yet. With a full season of George Springer and Alex Bregman hitting in front of him and Carlos Correa and the rest of the revamped Astros lineup behind him, Altuve could be even better in 2017.