The Astros never had a notable history of strong shortstop play. At least until a certain player from Puerto Rico came along.
When Houston selected Carlos Correa first overall way back in 2012, the hope was that he could become the face of the franchise and one of the top shortstops in baseball. The Astros desperately needed for him to pan out. Well, I think it is fair to say that has happened.
Thus far in his young career, Correa has already set a record for home runs by a shortstop in franchise history with 42. He has consistently been one of the team’s top offensive performers (127 wRC+) since his call up in 2015. Not to mention one of the most productive shortstops last year.
The question is whether he is the top shortstop in the game. And while we naturally want to see him be number one by everyone, we as fans have to set aside biases.
While he isn’t the top ranked shortstop in baseball per MLB Network, the accomplishment of landing within the top three is definitely notable. Corey Seager had an amazing rookie season for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians is quite the shortstop himself. There isn’t anything wrong with finishing behind those two guys.
Beyond the word of mouth though, Correa’s 2016 metrics, mainly offensive, peg him as one of the top five shortstops in baseball. Just not the best one.
WAR: 4.9 (5th)
wRC+: 122 (3rd)
OPS: .811 (4th)
wOBA: .349 (4th)
Of course, the primary question about Correa and playing shortstop has been his defensuve capabilities. If you go by DRS, Correa’s -3 will not help his cause. UZR is slightly more kind at -2.3. Fangraphs Defense rating, which accounts for various adjustments, gives a 4.7 rating to Correa. All of these defensive figures place the Astros star middle in the pack when it comes to defense. By comparison, Lindor and Seaver are ranked in the top-seven by Fangraphs Defense ratings.
Overall, Correa is rightly ranked amongst the top three shortstops in baseball. The offensive numbers he is capable of producing alone places him in the conversation. And while his defense isn’t certainly the best, he isn’t the worst either. Middle of the pack, while far from noteworthy, is adequate for a player with his particular set of skills with the bat.
Only time will tell if Correa can improve defensively while maintaining his offensive productivity. But if he does then the Astros slugger would have a legit claim at being the best shortstop in baseball.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**