Houston Astros fans will have plenty to miss if the 2020 MLB season doesn’t happen.
Things are heating up between MLB and the Players Union as the two sides try to come to an agreement for some form of a 2020 season. They appear to be far apart on the issue of money, and it threatens to hamstring the whole sport. Our chances of seeing the Houston Astros on the field this year will depend on it.
As I’ve written recently, the Players Union isn’t looking like it cares to negotiate much, and that attitude will have to change if there’s going to be any hope of seeing some semblance of a season. With that in mind, there’s a real possibility there won’t be a season at all, and that would leave us Astros fans missing a great many things that we otherwise would’ve seen this year.
Possible Final Seasons for Impending Free Agents
A few key players are set to hit free agency this winter. George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, Yuli Gurriel and Brad Peacock are all in their final years of team control. If the season doesn’t happen, they’ll hit free agency without having played another game for the Astros.
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That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all going to leave. The team will at least attempt to bring back Springer and possibly Brantley, Gurriel or Peacock too. They don’t have room in the budget to sign all of them, but there’s room for one or two. Still, some of these players will have played their last game with the Astros if there’s no 2020 season.
March Up Leaderboards for Veterans
Justin Verlander notched his 3,000th career strikeout late last season, and as I wrote a few months back, he was poised to further climb some all-time leaderboards in 2020. He won’t make it as high as he would otherwise have, even if a partial season is played.
The same goes for Zack Greinke, who continues to build a solid case for the Hall of Fame. He surpassed 200 career wins last year and is in striking distance of the 3,000 strikeout mark. But for both of these players, a lost season would severely hurt their chances to continue to advance.
Verlander is now 37, while Greinke is 36. Both are obviously approaching the end of their careers, though their performances in 2019 were still exceptional. But age will eventually catch up to them, and a lost season at this point would hamper their efforts to rack up even more impressive numbers. For fans, getting to watch these guys pitch is a treat, and any lost time at this point in their careers would leave us less time to appreciate their greatness.
Chance for Redemption
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The end to the Astros 2019 season was an absolute heartbreaker, losing World Series Game Seven at home. On top of that, the offseason was when the stuff hit the fan with the sign stealing mess. It’s been a rough few months for this team and its fans.
We’ve had to deal with the scorn coming from other fans, teams and players. Some of that is deserved, but we all know there are plenty of people who are happy to see the Astros made to be the villain. There will always be trolls and hecklers, but some actual baseball would be the best tonic for all this.
The team could have the chance to avenge the loss and win another championship with this current roster, and they could prove just how good they are without stealing signs. But the longer we go without baseball, the longer the ghosts of 2019 and the sign stealing scandal will stick around.
Follow-Up Seasons from Rookies
Yordan Alvarez had arguably the best rookie season in franchise history en route to winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Jose Urquidy burst onto the scene late in the year and eventually made a brilliant start in Game Four of the World Series.
Both were expected to be key contributors in 2020, but there’s always the threat of the proverbial sophomore slump. It will be exciting to see how these two players can adjust once the league starts adjusting to them. If there’s no 2020 season, we’ll have to wait to see.
Development of Forrest Whitley
The Astros consensus top prospect had a rough 2019 season, pitching horribly in Triple-A and spending time on the shelf. He lost control of his pitches and needs to continue to work on his command and mechanics if he’s going to have a future in the major leagues.
But if there’s no minor league season, which increasingly appears to be the case, that’s going to be hard to do. Whitley can train, of course, but there’s no substitute for playing real games. The Astros may need him to step up and be an ace in 2022, but a lost 2020 will hurt his timeline. The same is true for the team’s other top prospects.
Continued Dominance from Altuve, Bregman
Jose Altuve is on track for some Hall of Fame numbers now that he’s roughly halfway through his career. Alex Bregman, while still early in his career, has a shot there too if he can continue to produce. They could really use a 2020 season to keep building their cases.
Altuve’s numbers dipped a little the past two seasons as he dealt with some injuries, so he’s looking for a full, healthy rebound. Bregman turned into a true star last year and is looking to maintain that. Losing full seasons is always tough on a player’s all-time numbers.