Astros Position Review: Shortstop
As we continue our series on the Astros’ 2016 Position Reviews, we now shift our focus to shortstop.
After homering on opening day, predictions for the type of stats that Correa would put up in his first full year of play at the major league level went through the roof. In fact, it is amazing that a player who hit 20 homeruns and had 96 RBI out of the shortstop position could be considered to have had a “sophomore slump,” but that is exactly what many around the baseball community thought at the end of the year. After such a phenomenal 2015 season, in which he won the Rookie of the Year award and hit 22 homeruns in only 99 games, many had expected Correa to eclipse the 30 homerun and 100 RBI mark and to cement himself as the best shortstop in baseball. While he may have not hit all of those lofty expectations, he still has proven to be on a short list of best offensive shortstops in the game, continuing to draw comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez.
On the defensive side, Correa continued to improve after a respectable rookie campaign. In 2016, he only made one more error (14) in 153 games compared to 2015 when he had 13 errors in 99 games. His fielding percentage also improved from .967 to .978. Even his UZR (which is used to estimate each fielder’s defensive contribution in theoretical runs above or below an average fielder at his position) improved from -6.0 to -2.3.
Carlos Correa continued to justify why he was chosen 1st overall in the 2012 draft. Correa finished 2nd in the MLB in WAR at the shortstop position and led all shortstops in runs batted in in 2016. Correa and Jose Altuve will continue to be arguably the best middle infield duo in all of the big leagues next year and at 22 and 26 respectively, will continue to be that for the foreseeable future.
2016 Stats: .274/.361/.451, 36 2B, 20 HR, 96 RBI, 13 SB, 75 BB/139 K, 6.0 WAR, 123 OPS+
As discussed in length in our third base review, Alex Bregman made the most of his first full season of professional ball and shot up through the minor league system, eventually earning a call up on July 25th. Despite his early struggles, Bregman turned his season around at the plate and showed why he was taken number two overall in the 2015 draft.
Even more impressive was Bregman’s ability to play the infield at the big league level. While solidifying third base for the Houston Astros, Bregman also showed off his ability at shortstop, having played the position in six games including four starts. While he is not going to supplant Carlos Correa at shortstop next year, there are some who debate whether Bregman would be the better long term solution at shortstop with Correa moving over to third. Regardless, while most major league clubs look for one player to have success at the shortstop position, the Houston Astros have two players that can not only play it, but play it at a superstar level.
2016 Stats: .264/.313/.478/.791, 13 2B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 15 BB/52 K, 1.8 WAR
Once again, Marwin Gonzalez finds himself on another position review as he played all over the field this year. Gonzalez played eleven games at shortstop this year, starting in six of those games. Marwin is such a valuable commodity due to his ability to give starters days off (or at least giving them the opportunity to only hit in a DH role). Defensively he did a nice job at short playing errorless baseball from that position with 18 assists and 9 putouts in 27 chances. His value will continue to be high next year due to his versatility.
2016 Stats: .254/.293/.401/.694, 26 2B, 13 HR, 51 RBI, 22 BB/118 K, 1.2 WAR
Overall Grade: A-
It is difficult to not give an even higher grade than this to a shortstop who was a consistent performer in the middle of the Astros’ lineup, but even then, there are many who believe Carlos Correa can and will be bettwe in 2017. Regardless, Correa remains one of the most dangerous weapons in a very dangerous lineup.
While Correa’s stats in 2016 are nothing to scoff at, many anticipate that the best is yet to come from Correa. With Correa as the starter and someone like Bregman able to slide over if needed, the Houston Astros look to have a dynamic player manning the position not only next year, but for several years to come.
Previous Position Reviews:
**Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images**