The order that the Houston Astros have put on the lineup card day-in and day-out has been universally recognized as one of the best in baseball, over the last several seasons. Some believe last year’s edition was the best in baseball, despite it no longer including George Springer.
There is some evidence to back that statement as even without Springer, not to mention Alex Bregman for a chunk of the season, the Astros led MLB in runs scored (863), just edging out the Rays (857) in the process.
Reaching those heights could be a bit more challenging this season, thanks to Carlos Correa wearing a Minnesota Twins’ uniform, a torn labrum for Jake Meyers and surgery for Bregman. With that in mind, MLB.com has pegged the Astros as the eighth-best lineup in baseball, and I’ll admit that the number seemed low to me at first.
Are the Astros only the eighth-best lineup in MLB or should they be higher?
However, upon further review it seems just about right all things considered. To start with, we’re not even sure who’ll be leading off, as manager Dusty Baker said he prefers Jose Altuve be somewhere else in the lineup.
As mentioned, Bregman is coming off an injury and was largely ineffective 2021 season and has to prove he can return to 2019 levels of production. While Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker should be super productive in the middle, the bottom third is full of question marks and not of the good variety.
I like Chas McCormick, but he strikes out way too much. Tucker had 147 plate appearances seventh in the lineup last season slashing .316/.374/.556, while this season, it’s expected McCormick or Siri will fill that slot to start the season. Either way the seventh slot will see a drop off.
Jeremy Peña, he of exactly zero major-league at-bats, will probably bat eighth and no one is quite sure what to expect of the rookie at the plate, but the available projections indicate it won’t be near Correa level production.
Martin Maldonado has struggled offensively for the last couple of seasons, not even approaching the Mendoza line at .172 last season and is an offensive liability. Given the questions above, the unknowns (Peña) and knowns (Maldonado), I think it’s remarkable the Astros are still eighth on the list and the envy of many teams in baseball.
While that says even more about how good the core of this lineup is and why they can carry a team all the way to the World Series, there’s definitely more question marks than there was a season ago.
Prospect outfielder and first baseman Norel Gonzalez was traded to the Miami Marlins for cash considerations.
Former outfielder Josh Reddick’s Houston home is now on the market.