Will the Astros have a hitter who drives in 100 runs in 2018?
By Eric Huysman
It’s been a few years since the Astros have had a 100 RBI hitter, it was 2009.
The Houston Astros are the reigning World Series Champions and are off to a 3-0 start in spring training. Yes, these games don’t count. However, the Astros won 101 games last without a hitter driving in 100 runs. Actually, the franchise has not had a 100 RBI guy since 2009 when Carlos Lee (102) achieved that. Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence were also on that team, but Lee was the cleanup hitter.
The Astros finished with a 74-88 record that season as they were on the verge of beginning the rebuild after reaching the World Series in 2005. Lee drove in those 102 runs with only 26 homers. Were you as surprised to see that fact as I was? Every team needs that big RBI hitter in order to win right? That may not be the case.
Looking at the roster between 2011 and 2013, it is not surprising that no one drove in 100 runs. There were not any good players on those teams, aside from Jose Altuve. Then again, there were not enough runners on base during the 100 loss seasons. Can you guess the two RBI leaders in 2012? They would be Justin Maxwell (53) and J.D. Martinez (55). That Astros team only scored 583 runs, and Lee was fading into the sunset.
In 2013-2014, the big RBI guy was Chris Carter with 82 and 88 respectively. That was a different day and age. The Astros made the playoffs in 2015 behind Evan Gattis‘ 88 RBIs. Three other hitters had 60 plus RBIs in Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Carter. That team won 93 games with a mix of emerging stars and some veteran players mixed in. They still did not have that big bat in the middle racking up all the RBIs.
Players are getting closer.
In 2016, both Altuve and Correa were battling for the RBI lead but ended up having 96 RBIs each. George Springer threw in 82 RBIs himself that year in his first year where he played all season. With the natural progression, you could have seen Altuve or Correa reaching the 100 RBI mark last season. Instead, Correa missed some time and Altuve didn’t need to drive all the runs to be the MVP.
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The Astros lineup has hitters up and down the lineup who could be the hero. On most teams, Springer would be batting in the middle of the order driving in runs. Instead, he will get on base leading off for Altuve and Correa to drive in. According to Fangraphs Zips, Correa is projected to drive in 111 runs in 2018. Springer is projected to drive in 85 and 84 runs respectively.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs***