With all the great hitters in the Astros offense, Carlos Correa could prove to be the X factor.
The 2019 Astros offense looks to be arguably the best in the game, and probably the best in franchise history. Dangerous hitters lurk up and down the lineup, wreaking havoc on opposing pitchers. With all the great names in the lineup, the X factor could prove to be Carlos Correa.
That’s not to say he is hands down the best hitter on the team, or even the most important. But having a healthy, productive Correa in the lineup is a big part of making the Astros offense the most dangerous in the game and could lead to another championship.
After his two-homer night on Thursday, Correa looks to be healthy and locked in. He’s slashing .290/.366/.579 on the season, giving him what would be a career-high OPS of .945. Those are middle-of-the-order numbers, and yet he finds himself hitting out of the No. 6 spot in the lineup.
Lengthens the Lineup
Having a guy who’s worthy of being a No. 3 or 4 hitter in your No. 6 spot is a great luxury to have. If Correa is seeing the ball well, it provides extra protection for Yordan Alvarez, and that trickles on up the lineup. Teams can pitch around Alvarez if they want to, but they’ll have to deal with Correa and Yuli Gurriel.
Over the past few seasons, the Astros have gone stretches without a healthy Correa. He was limited to 109 games in 2017, though he hit well when he played and was a big part of the team’s push to the World Series. He played 110 games in 2018, but largely wasn’t healthy when on the field, so his numbers suffered.
He’s also played only 68 games this season due to injury, though the Astros largely kept on winning without him. When you’ve got George Springer, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Alvarez and a red-hot Gurriel in there, you’ve already got a potent lineup.
This may be why Correa seems to be getting overlooked. Alvarez’s emergence, Altuve’s resurgence and Gurriel’s incredible run have stolen the headlines. Some fans have even suggested the Astros trade Correa. But he has as much ability to carry an offense as anyone, and if he gets hot, pitchers are going to have an awfully hard time.
A healthy Correa gives the Astros a 1-7 that’s better than any other team can put up, and the fact that he hasn’t always been healthy may be what makes him the X factor. If the Astros can mash without him, imagine how unstoppable they’ll be with a productive Correa in there too. As good as postseason pitching tends to be, that’s a tall order for any pitching staff.