What matters for the Astros in 2019
Carlos Correa: I’ve always had an uneasy experience about deciding if a player should be labeled a bust/disappointment due to injuries. Quite a slippery slope if you’d ask me. I tend to express disappointment over the circumstances instead of the player themselves, and that’s how I approach Correa’s injury-prone 2018. At the same time, I’ll also note that the upcoming 2019 season is an important one for the shortstop. We’ve all seen what Correa is capable of at his best (155 OPS+ in 2018). If he can remain healthy for most of the season, expect another five-plus win season from the former number one pick.
Michael Brantley: Likely the Astros’ best acquisition this offseason, Brantley solidifies one of the better lineups in baseball. The left-handed hitter provides a nice balance in Houston’s right-handed heavy lineup as well. For only $32 million over the next two seasons, Brantley represents a nice upgrade with no risk beyond 2020. As long as he remains healthy, the Astros came away with one of the better bargains this offseason.
Kyle Tucker: A top prospect in the Astros’ system, who has been frequently linked in trade talks, Tucker had a rough debut to major league pitching last year (25 OPS+ in 72 PA). However, it is still way premature to declare Tucker a bust. Brantley’s arrival likely forces Tucker to start the season in Round Rock, although he is on the short-list to rejoin the majors if required. Regardless if he remains with the Astros long-term or not, his future will help dictate Houston’s direction.
Jose Altuve/George Springer/Alex Bregman: Injuries were an issue for the Astros last season, and Bregman’s recent elbow surgery doesn’t inspire much relief. But it is only mid-January and it appears that all of the core will be ready to play on Opening Day. If Altuve, Springer, and Bregman along with Correa mange to remain healthy for most of the season, the Astros’ lineup is likely one of the top three in baseball.