Jeremy Peña's huge rebound from sophomore slump is somehow a lost Astros storyline

Jeremy Peńa has been on fire this season.
Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena
Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena / Logan Riely/GettyImages

To this point, the Houston Astros 2024 season has fallen woefully short of expectations. Yes, there's a new manager running the team, and injuries have greatly affected the starting rotation, but the Houston faithful don't expect to see their team jockeying with the Los Angeles Angels for last place in the AL West.

The storylines from this season have been mostly negative. There's been a breakdown in contract negotiations with superstar Alex Bregman (who's struggled mightily this season), back-biting between Joe Espada and anonymous Astros' players, and a slew of injuries to almost every single member of Houston's starting rotation.

With all those negative stories dominating the Astros' airwaves through the first several weeks of the season, Jeremy Peña's resurgence has been lost. Peña appears to have put his sophomore slump in the rearview mirror and has outplayed a number of his teammates this season.

Astros SS Jeremy Peña's rebound from sophomore slump is somehow lost

Peña has been one of the most consistent performers for Houston this season. While Bregman is stuck in neutral, Peña is hitting .333/.375/.455 this season. Peña leads the team in batting average and trails only Kyle Tucker in on-base percentage.

Peña endured a difficult season in 2023. After breaking onto the scene as the heir apparent to longtime shortstop Carlos Correa with a fifth-place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2022, Peña fell on hard times last season. The power numbers took a hit, the strikeouts ticked up a bit, and it seemed as though Peña forgot how to use his glove.

The glove is still a problem — Peña is worth -5 defensive runs saved (DRS) and -4 outs above average (OAA) — but the Astros' shortstop has dramatically cut down on the number of strikeouts from last season, which has raised his batting average and helped him lead the league in hits (55) so far this season.

The Astros needed this type of bounce-back from Peña. While the Astros made Brice Matthews their first-round draft pick last season, the 22-year-old is still several years away from making it to the big leagues. Without a major league-ready shortstop in the farm system, Houston needs Peña to play up to his potential.

Peña has been yo-yo'd up and down the Astros lineup this season, but has recently seemed to find a home batting fourth or fifth. Given how frequently Peña has been reaching base, Espada may want to bump the red-hot Peña up in the lineup in order to have the equally hot-hitting Tucker batting behind him. Just a thought.

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