Astros: ALDS Position Player Comparison
By Cody Poage
The Astros’ ALDS roster has been set, and everything is ready to go for a Friday afternoon showdown between them and the Indians. How do the two group of position players compare?
In preparation for the Indians, the Astros announced their 25-man roster as the ALDS lurks on the horizon. Arguably the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Josh James in the bullpen and the absence of Hector Rondon, a key offseason acquisition. On the position player side there wasn’t much surprise at all, unless you’d consider the exclusion of Max Stassi.
That said, let’s list out the position players for both sides, then run a comparison position-by-position. Up first are the Astros.
Jose Altuve (.315/.384/.449, 13 HR, 132 OPS+, 5.1 bWAR)
Carlos Correa (.239/.323/.405, 15 HR, 102 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR)
Alex Bregman (.286/.394/.532, 31 HR, 156 OPS+, 6.9 bWAR)
Marwin Gonzalez (.247/.324/.409, 16 HR, 103 OPS+, 2.5 bWAR)
Yuli Gurriel (.291/.323/.428, 13 HR, 108 OPS+, 2.3 bWAR)
Brian McCann (.212/.301/.339, 7 HR, 79 OPS+, 1.0 bWAR)
Martin Maldonado (.225/.276/.351, 9 HR, 73 OPS+, 0.5 bWAR)
George Springer (.265/.346/.434, 22 HR, 116 OPS+, 2.7 bWAR)
Josh Reddick (.242/.318/.400, 17 HR, 99 OPS+, 1.8 bWAR)
Jake Marisnick (.211/.275/.399, 10 HR, 85 OPS+, 1.7 bWAR)
Tony Kemp (.263/.351/.392, 6 HR, 108 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR)
Myles Straw (.291/.381/.353, 70 SB) Note: Minor League numbers in 2018.
Evan Gattis (.226/.284/.452, 25 HR, 101 OPS+, 0.4 bWAR)
Tyler White (.276/.354/.533, 12 HR, 143 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR)
Now for the Indians expected roster.
Yonder Alonso (.250/.317/.421, 23 HR, 97 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR)
Yandy Diaz (.312/.375/.422, 1 HR, 115 OPS+, 0.2 bWAR)
Josh Donaldson (.246/.352/.449, 8 HR, 119 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR)
Edwin Encarnacion (.246/.336/.474, 32 HR, 115 OPS+, 1.9 bWAR)
Francisco Lindor (.277/.352/.519, 38 HR, 131 OPS+, 7.9 bWAR)
Jose Ramirez (.270/.387/.552, 39 HR, 150 OPS+, 7.9 bWAR)
Yan Gomes (.266/.313/.449, 16 HR, 103 OPS+, 2.6 bWAR)
Roberto Perez (.168/.256/.263, 2 HR, 41 OPS+, -0.5 bWAR)
Greg Allen (.257/.310/.343, 2 HR, 77 OPS+, 0.4 bWAR)
Michael Brantley (.309/.364/.468, 17 HR, 123 OPS+, 3.6 bWAR)
Melky Cabrera (.280/.335/.420, 6 HR, 102 OPS+, 0.0 bWAR)
Rajai Davis (.224/.278/.281, 1 HR, 52 OPS+, -0.4 bWAR)
Brandon Guyer (.206/.300/.371,7 HR, 80 OPS+, -0.2 bWAR)
Jason Kipnis (.230/.315/.389, 18 HR, 89 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR)
Both teams are obviously known for their superb infield. Seriously, the star talent at the infield positions is ridiculous. The Astros have Altuve, the reigning AL MVP, Correa, and Bregman. Lindor and Ramirez are clearly the top-two position players on the Indians’ roster and they’ve recently added Donaldson from the Blue Jays. Right now, Houston likely has the edge at first and third base as Gurriel and Bregman have had better seasons than Alonso and Donaldson. I am curious, though, to see how Donaldson performs in the postseason. Out of any player in this series, he is probably the biggest x-factor. Encarnacion is a proven bat, but the combination of Gattis and White makes the designated hitter matchup a close one.
Unfortunately, I have to give the edge at second base and shortstop to the Indians due to Lindor’s and Ramirez’s 2018 campaigns. But Altuve is no slouch, and Ramirez has struggled since moving over to second base. During the last 28 days, the Indians’ infielder has a .608 OPS while Altuve has posted an .862 OPS. Correa’s back injury has been a problem since late June, and his .517 OPS since August 10th doesn’t inspire much confidence. The hope for Houston is that the extended time off will help Correa’s back during the ALDS. We will see.
The Indians’ catcher duo of Gomes and Perez is likely better than the Astros’ catching combination of McCann and Maldonado. But I don’t view the difference as that extreme. Gomes clearly had the best season offensively of any catcher in this series, but McCann’s early season knee injury and subsequent surgery robbed him most of the season. He’s healthy now, which is a plus for Houston. Maldonado has always been viewed as a defense-first catcher, but he can contribute in different ways. In terms of pitch framing, the Indians’ duo ranks higher than the Astros pair. If Stassi was on the roster though, that would be a slightly different story.
Based on talent alone, Springer is the best outfielder in the series. Even though Kipnis has had a solid career, he can’t match Springer in center field. Gonzalez, more times than not, will be the left fielder, but Brantley still holds the edge based on their respective 2018 numbers. In right field, it is a toss up between Cabrera and Reddick. On one hand, Cabrera’s .822 OPS since July is something to keep in mind. Reddick’s on-and-off struggles at the plate shouldn’t be ignored, but he has an .845 OPS over his last 58 plate appearances.
At the end of the day, there is not much separation between the Astros and Indians. Both teams do not strike out much as they have two lowest strikeout rates in the game. Both walk and hit for power at comparable levels. Houston may have a bit more depth on the fringes of the roster than Cleveland, but the Indians’ star power makes up for that slight shortcoming. But the Astros’ star power shouldn’t be discounted, especially if Altuve and Correa pick up where they left off in last year’s postseason.