After a month of baseball and tons of games without many rest days, hitters, pitchers and the rest are all in full gear. After the departure of Carlos Correa was made certain, the Houston Astros still could have made trades or signed free agents to take over at short while Jeremy Peña got his feet wet at the big-league level.
Trevor Story was the hottest name in the market to replace Correa — once he signed with Minnesota — and he signed for less but still a good amount of money. The Astros chose to stick with Peña.
Let’s examine further if that investment was worth it for the Astros; comparing Peña and Story.
Story has been the starting second baseman for the Boston Red Sox and, especially as of late, has not performed up to the hype. With the Green Monster at Fenway, thoughts that there might be some similar play to Coors field swirled in the minds of Red Sox fans but the results have been less than palatable, with Story yet to hit a home run this season.
With half of Story’s 10 RBI coming in two games this season his production otherwise has been slim, hitting a paltry .194 while slugging .269 with an OPS of .545 and an OPS+ of 59. Fielding wise Story is sitting at his average .963.
Peña, on the other hand, is having a stellar start to his rookie campaign. Peña is currently slashing .242, slugging .495 and has an OPS of .799. Peña leads the American League in bWAR at shortstop currently with 1.7 and has a comparable fielding percentage to Story at .965.
Peña is among the top Astros in home runs with six, RBI with 15 and hits at 23 for the season. The righty’s energy and passion is also evident on the field as an everyday player at a key position he keeps the team energy high, not missing a beat from the other veteran leaders.
As a whole, the Astros faithful might still be sad to see Correa go, especially as he faces the Astros this week, but Peña is giving them good reason to be hopeful of the future. Peña will be a staple for years to come at shortstop, and with the early season returns described above as of Monday morning, the Astros fans can be thankful they didn’t go after Story after Correa’s departure.
Story at most would have been a short-term signing, but with Boston signing him to a six-year, $140 million contract, the Astros can be thankful they dodged a bullet with that salary, even at two years that’s $50 million the Astros would have invested into a lower producing player, so far.