After battling two different injuries in 2021, Alex Bregman has identified himself the healthiest he has been in two years. The Houston Astros‘ third baseman is two seasons removed from his last All-Star appearance, but FanGraphs’ ZiPS Projections are previewing a boom for 2022.
ZiPS projects team’s offensive production and pitching performances by way of age, previous year’s work and ability. After a career-low 2.0 WAR (minimum 90 games played) in 2021, FanGraphs is calculating a 5.00-WAR season for Bregman next season.
FanGraphs projects Alex Bregman to bounce back, but what about the rest of the Astros?
The Astros’ strongest trio of offensive production is coming from Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez. These three are projected to contribute 14.9 total WAR for the ’22 season, while Dan Szymborski isn’t including free agent Carlos Correa due to a slim likelihood of him returning.
Szymborski believes the Astros would benefit greatly from starting Jeremy Pena more games at shortstop in contrast to Aledmys Diaz, who remains on the roster. If the Astros don’t re-sign Correa, then Pena is a future plan worth developing as soon as possible.
For the pitching staff, ZiPS is expecting Justin Verlander to have the most WAR of all starters for the Astros. While winning the Cy Young in his last full season, the right-hander returns from Tommy John surgery on a one-year deal with a player option for 2023.
Alongside Verlander’s 3.7 WAR season, ZiPS is projecting 3.0-WAR seasons from Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia, as Lance McCullers Jr., who is coming off injury as well, is expected to post 2.8 WAR.
Minor-league rotation depth should have healthier options for next season, but ZiPS is no longer sold on Forrest Whitley. Yet, Szymborski hopes to see major-league success this season and beyond from the former top prospect for the calculation to high on Whitley.