The Astros are the best lineup in the MLB
The whirlwind Carlos Correa saga has finally wound down, as the former Astro has made it official. Correa inked a six-year deal with the Twins, backing out of his agreement with the New York Mets. The ramifications of the move could be felt across baseball.
By backing out of his agreement with New York, Correa also stripped the Mets of an intriguing title--best lineup in baseball. According to Anthony Castrovince in his latest piece, that honor now belongs to the Houston Astros.
In breaking down the lineup, he writes:
"The Astros ranked sixth in the Majors in weighted runs created plus (112, or 12% better than league average) and eighth in runs (737) in 2022, and that was without the RBI machine known as Abreu and with Brantley’s sweet swing on the shelf for all but 64 games. Both of those guys are getting older, so that must be taken into account. But on the flip side, Alvarez, Tucker and Peña are really just beginning to come into their own. The Astros’ beautiful blend of discipline and power gives them a strong argument to be No. 1 on this list, and they might well be there by the end of the season."- Anthony Castrovince
The Astros were already a powerhouse lineup in 2022, but they had a couple of glaring weaknesses.
Yuli Gurriel scuffled to a .242 batting average and .647 OPS in by far the worst season of his big league career. He has been replaced by Jose Abreu and his .304 batting average and .824 OPS. While one obviously can't just cut, copy and paste one player into the place of another, if Abreu's line replaced Gurriel's in 2022, the Astros .743 OPS rises to .762. That takes them from third in the AL and seventh in the MLB to first in the AL and second across the MLB.
They also get Michael Brantley back. Brantley is a walking .300 hitter and should post an OPS that falls between .785 and .810. He played in only 64 games last season. The return of "the professional hitter" gives this lineup a depth that very few can match.
Another year of maturation for Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker should strike fear in the hearts of pitchers across the game, particularly with the banning of the shift. Each should see a rise in their averages, OPS and RBI next season without so many base knocks unfairly taken away.
And of course. the reigning ALCS and World Series MVP Jeremy Peña has another year under his belt and will be fully settled into his adjusted and tempered leg kick. He turned into a top-15 hitter in the MLB after reducing his leg kick. Assuming he is even slightly improved at laying off sliders down and away in year two, the Astros lineup is impossible to navigate.
Martín Maldonado remains a weak spot with his bat, but if Yainer Diaz can hit like he profiles to do, he will provide plenty of pop from the backup catcher spot with some spot DH days.
Assuming health, the Astros no longer have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find a DH. They can choose between Brantley and Alvarez. Now opposing pitchers have to navigate a first seven, sorted alphabetically because how else can one correctly arrange them, of Abreu, Altuve, Alvarez, Brantley, Bregman, Peña and Tucker. Best of luck!
They bring back the best bullpen in the game. They retained six starters and carry a 3.22 ERA in their starting rotation even without Justin Verlander. Houston has wipeout arms in bunches. And now they've got the best lineup in baseball.
Gear up, H-Town...2023 could end up being even more special than 2022.