Astros: Five players who have most to prove in playoffs

Houston Astros, Carlos Correa (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Astros, Carlos Correa (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Here are five Houston Astros players who have the most to prove in the playoffs.

The Houston Astros, despite playing rather poorly against the lowly Rangers the past two games, have managed to get into the playoffs anyway. Given that today’s regular season finale is meaningless, we can start looking ahead to the postseason. After what’s been a largely mediocre year for this team, there are several players with something to prove in October.

It’s no secret that a number of players have disappointed this year, which has resulted in the Astros being on the brink of finishing the regular season with a losing record. Some of that can be attributed to injury, but there have been far too many players who’ve simply underperformed. A strong showing in the playoffs could give them some momentum headed into next year.

With that in mind, here are the five players who have the most to prove this postseason.

Jose Altuve

This is the most obvious one. Altuve’s been mostly healthy this year but has struggled to a .216/.280/.326 line with only 13 extra-base hits in 47 games. He’s only 30, so it’s far from time to be thinking of him as being on the back side of his career. He’s the team’s heart and soul and will need to get going if the Astros are to have any chance of advancing.

The haters, of course, are reveling in his struggles, boasting loudly that he can’t hit without cheating. We all know that’s untrue. The reality is that his struggles are most likely mental, possibly due to the weight of the sign stealing scandal resting on his shoulders despite his lack of involvement in it. Perhaps an offseason’s rest is what he needs, but it would be incredibly sweet to see him come alive in the playoffs.

Yuli Gurriel

Gurriel had a monster season in 2019, but this year he has slumped badly in September. The result is that his season totals have fallen to .232/.274/.386, which is awful timing for him considering he’s 36 and about to enter free agency.

He’s been open about his desire to return to the Astros, but we’ll have to see how the offseason plays out. His late-season slide will likely remove any chance of him getting a significant multi-year deal, but a big showing in October could persuade GM James Click to bring him back for another go-round.

Josh Reddick

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After subpar offensive showings in 2018 and 2019, Reddick was hoping to rebound in the last year of his deal. That unfortunately has not happened, as he’s hit .249/.317/.384 in 55 games this year. He’s 33 and headed for free agency, and his chances of finding a starting job somewhere are slim at this point.

Reddick still plays excellent defense, but his anemic bat leaves him possibly headed for a fourth outfielder role. If he can mash in October, though, then perhaps some team will see enough to give him a shot and perhaps even a two-year deal. His future is quite uncertain, so he needs a nice boost headed into a critical offseason.

Zack Greinke

You wouldn’t think the likely future Hall of Famer has much to prove at all, but I think he does. Greinke was 1-3 with a 6.08 ERA in September, and he’s still likely to be the team’s starter in the first game of the first round. His track record and pedigree has earned him that, but he’s got to pitch better than he has of late.

Some of those starts were derailed by one or two bad pitches, so it’s not as though he’s been awful. But he’s 36 now and is under contract for one more year. Can the Astros count on him as an ace next year or just a mid-rotation starter? Does his career continue beyond 2021? Him stepping up big in October could answer those questions.

Carlos Correa

This is an important one as Correa is a year away from reaching free agency. The Astros are going to have to decide whether they intend to sign him long-term or not, and that decision may need to be made this offseason. Thus his performance in October is going to weigh heavily in the team’s decision.

It doesn’t help that he’s slumped after a solid start to the year and now has a lower OPS than Reddick. His .256/.320/.362 line with only four home runs in 57 games is hardly worthy of paying him as a top-tier shortstop in spite of his excellent defense. He just turned 26, so there’s still plenty of prime years left for him, but will he reach his ceiling?