Jeremy Peña Has Become A Presence At The Plate Once Again

For much of the season, the Astros shortstop, Jeremy Peña, underperformed. Their reigning ALCS and World Series MVP finally turned into a threat at the plate again.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox
Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox / Paul Rutherford/GettyImages

Jeremy Peña's rookie year was a resounding success. The shortstop was a roughly league average hitter for the season, won a Gold Glove, and then exploded in October on his way to an ALCS and World Series MVP.

Big things were expected of the second-year shortstop. He appeared to be on his way to building on his breakout one month into the season, finishing April with six home runs and a .762 OPS. He still chased quite a bit, but the power was there and he was getting on base more.

It all bottomed out from there.

Peña has only four total home runs since April, and his OPS diminished each month. After finishing July with an abysmal .531 OPS, Peña evolved as a hitter in August.

He finished the month with zero home runs, which was a first in his career. But even more surprisingly, Peña walked 15 times. His season high for walks in a month had been six, and his career high was seven, way back in April of 2022 before his propensity for chasing the down and away slider had been exposed.

The newfound patience paid off in a big way. As Peña laid off pitches out of the zone, pitchers had to come to him. The results were a resounding success. Peña hit .333 in August with eight doubles and two triples. He reached base at a .426 clip and posted an .881 OPS.

The .881 OPS was the highest for a month in his career, and it came in a month in which he hit zero home runs.

The power will come. He's simply too strong to not hit home runs.

But for now, his average on the season is up to a respectable .258 and his OPS+ is a just below average 95. If Peña can continue taking his walks and not trying to do too much, those numbers will continue climbing.

Yes, the returns of Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley have helped the Astros offense, but Peña's ability to get himself on base and into scoring position at the bottom of the order has been a key piece of their offensive breakout.

The Peña of last postseason was incredible, but he was also on an unstainably torrid pace. The Astros don't need 30 home runs and a 900+ OPS out of their short stop. As long as he remains patient and gets on base at a high clip, he and the Astros can both go a long way.