Another day, another Astros player review. Today is shortstop Carlos Correa, who had an up-and-down 2018 season.
When the Red Sox ended the Astros season earlier this month, the conclusion was met with a mix of sadness and disappointment. Sure, Boston felt like the team of destiny this year, but Houston basically underperformed due to a variety of reasons. One of the key reasons was Correa’s persistent back injury, which led to his disappointing play for most of the season.
Offensive numbers: .239/.323/.405, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 101 wRC+, .167 ISO, 1.6 fWAR
Defensive numbers: 959 innings, 166 plays, -5 DRS, -4.5 UZR, 6 errors
Since his debut in 2015, the former first overall draft pick has been considered one of the best young shortstops in the game. This assessment was accurate as Correa posted a 13.7 fWAR through 2017. Only Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Corey Seager of the Dodgers finished with a high fWAR over the same time period at shortstop. But a back injury derailed any chance of Correa having another top-three season among his position group. At the same time, a team can do worse than having their main shortstop posted 1.6 Wins Above Replacement.
Offensively, the back injury robbed Correa of his power in noticeable ways. One could see from his plate appearances that swinging a bat was quite painful. Even after his return from an extended stay on the DL, the age-24 shortstop didn’t look like himself. He started to generate better results later in the postseason, but Correa wasn’t the same threat.
Correa’s back also robbed him of his defensive prowess. Defensive metrics are not extremely reliable, but he had a nine-run swing on his DRS — Defensive Runs Saved — from +4 runs in 2017 to -4 runs in 2018. While he isn’t another Andrelton Simmons, the Astros’ star does play a competent shortstop, when healthy. Incidentally, Correa’s defense made a quicker recovery than his bat when he returned in the latter half.
Regular season grade: C+
Like I mentioned a moment ago, Correa had a decent showing in the postseason. A .241/.371/.379 slash line doesn’t inspire much fear into an opposing pitching staff, but he did show a renewed patience with six walks compared to nine strikeouts. He also finished the postseason with a double and a home run with a better-looking swing than he had towards the conclusion of the regular season. He was starting to look more like the Correa of old, which is one reason why manager AJ Hinch was willing to move the shortstop up in the batting order during Game 5 of the ALCS. Or was it a one-time response thanks to three-hit showing in Game 4? Probably a bit of both.
Postseason grade: B
Like Altuve, it is somewhat difficult to accurately grade Correa this year, thanks to injuries. While Correa did miss a good chunk of the season, he did play through a lot of pain. That has to count for something in the court of public opinion.