Carlos Correa has an exemplary postseason resume. Jeremy Pena is an unknown when it comes to October.
Jeremy Pena has been a pleasant surprise at shortstop. Filling the shoes of Carlos Correa, one of the most beloved Astros of all time, was no small feat. However, he has done a great job and has produced on a similar level offensively to Correa this season.
It’s important to note that while Pena’s power has been a nice surprise, he was projected by scouts to be more of a glove-first shortstop when he hit the major leagues.
His hitting has slowed down tremendously since his hot start to the season and the one area Correa has Pena beaten in spades is his plate discipline. Here are their strikeouts, walk totals, batting averages, and on-base percentages side by side.
Correa: 85 strikeouts to 45 walks. .266 batting average. .348 OBP.
Pena: 103 strikeouts to 19 walks. .246 Batting average. .287 OBP.
A .300 on-base percentage is essentially the Mendoza Line for OBP and Pena seems to only be able to get on base when swinging the bat. He is the team leader in strikeouts and is last on the team in walks by a wide margin.
The player with the second-most strikeouts on the team is Martin Maldonado with 95 strikeouts to 19 walks. Granted, that’s in nine fewer games but Maldonado’s lack of offensive prowess was so bad that the Astros had to trade for another catcher at the most recent deadline.
Of course, Jeremy Pena is a rookie. There are two sides to this coin: one being that he will improve and adjust to major league pitching. It’s also possible he simply had a hot couple of months and is more of a glove-first shortstop over a larger sample. His numbers since July 1st are as follows:
42 games, .213 Batting Average, .239 OBP, 50 strikeouts, and 7 walks.
The only positive to take away is that he has seven home runs in that span but even then, six of them came in July.
We will also find out if he can hit in the postseason against the most elite pitching baseball has to offer and if he can live up to big moments when the time comes. He has a couple of walk-offs this year, but to do it in the postseason when facing elite-level pitching is a whole other story.
With Carlos Correa, you know what you’re getting. Elite defense, 20 to 25 home runs, and a guy who turns it on when October hits.
If there’s one thing analytics can’t measure, it’s how someone performs under the brightest lights of postseason baseball. Pena is an unknown when it comes to that, whereas Correa is an established postseason star. He’s 28 years old and is tied for the all-time record in postseason walk-off hits with “Big Papi” David Ortiz (they have four each for the record.)
Now, one more option for the Astros if they do sign Correa.