Yuli Gurriel: A-
A popular player among the Houston fans, Yuli Gurriel is affectionately called the “Pineapple Express” or “La Pina” derived from his signature haircut. Although Gurriel had successful campaigns in 2017/18, his first two full seasons, he found a little more oomph in his bat this year, which he credits to advice courtesy of Carlos Beltran.
He had a slash line of .298/.343/.541 with an OPS+ of 126. That BA is only .001 behind his career-high .299, but every other number is his best ever. The .541 SLG is far better than any of his previous seasons due to the 31 home runs he hit versus his season-high 18 in 2017.
Gurriel also eclipsed his season highs with 85 runs and 104 RBIs, the latter good for second-best on the team behind Bregman’s 122. He has been a constant that Houston could rely upon, as evidenced by his 564 at-bats second only to Brantley. He was also second behind Brantley with his 168 hits on the year.
Like Bregman, he has been very utile on the field when needed. Although he played 108 games at 1st base, he filled in at third in 40 games when Bregman was filling in for Correa at short. Along with fellow infielders Altuve and Bregman, Gurriel was also a finalist for a Gold Glove Award among first basemen.
Gurriel was named the American League Player of the Month for July, the month prior to Bregman’s Award, giving Houston the award in back-to-back months. Next season he will be Gurriel’s last year on his current contract and will be a free agent in 2021 at the age of 36. But if he keeps playing like he’s 26, he might be around here in Houston a few more years.