With Christmas fast approaching, ol’ Saint Nick is looking back upon rostered Houston Astros for 2021 to determine if they end up with coal or get presents this December. One thing is for sure, this year there were plenty of nice list players for the American League champion Astros.
The real question is with all the success the Astros had this season, who truly should end up on the nice list?
Typically a players’ contract year ends up being the best year of a players career, and Carlos Correa did not disappoint. Having received some presents already in the form of a Gold and a Platinum Glove, Correa is going to have to wait a little for his biggest present to arrive, that being a new big-contract.
Astros fans everywhere are hoping jolly ol’ St. Nick takes over general manager James Click’s body this Christmas and the Astros re-sign the star shortstop who has been in Houston his whole career.
Correa posted career highs in both home runs and total bases, along with posting his second-highest RBI total of his career.
Shoring up the middle of the Astros defense, Jose Altuve made some spectacular plays throughout the season at second base and produced at the plate. Altuve’s career high in home runs with 31 and runs scored with 117, which helped lead the Astros along with his second highest career total of RBI with 83.
Although his regular season performances were much embattled, Phil Maton’s postseason performance alone places him on the nice list. With an ERA close to 5.00 in the regular season, Astros fans were questioning the move to bring him over from Cleveland for Myles Straw.
In his 12 postseason appearances, Maton shut down any doubt about his acquisition, giving up only one total run and nine hits. Adding to his prowess, the only run he gave up was in junk time in Boston after the Astros were already down six runs.
In his first real full season (not counting the 2020 COVID-19 year as a season), Kyle Tucker did not disappoint. His 30 home runs and 92 RBI were close to team leads and position leads for the American League. Astros fans look forward to many more seasons with Tucker in the outfield.
Yuli Gurriel showed fans and opponents why the Astros were so dangerous this past year. What other team has had a seven-hole hitter win the batting crown with a .319 average? I can’t think of any but his solid average combined with his 81 RBI earned Gurriel his nice list nomination.
In only his second full season with the Astros, Yordan Alvarez let fans and opponents know he is a bat to be feared. His countless monster team-leading 33 home runs this season and team leading 104 RBI easily earned him a nice list nomination. His American League Championship Series performance perhaps earned him an even more full stocking with his MVP honor for the series hitting around .500 for the six-game set.
Luis Garcia’s first full season as an Astro was not without drama. Following his stellar rookie campaign during the regular season with a 3.48 ERA and 11-8 record, he played a pivotal role in getting the Astros to the World Series. The Astros’ rookie Game 6, five-inning shutout led the Astros to advance to the Series for the third time in five years and earned him a slot on the nice list.
Lance McCullers, Jr.
Lance McCullers Jr. had a stellar 2021 season and postseason before it was cut short due to injury. McCullers’ two postseason gems easily put him into the nice column despite his almost Cy Young winning season, where he ended up seventh in the vote.
There are too many players who indeed had good seasons but this list highlights a few of the definite nice list players. That being said, the naughty list players coming out soon are a much more specific group.