Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Houston Astros
Projected Starting Lineup
C Brian McCann—McCann has had 20+ home runs in every year except one since 2006—how is that for consistency?! I think he gets another 20 this year while providing the Astros with a power bat that they have been seeking.
1B Yulieski Gourriel—It’s potluck with Gourriel this season as I am just not sure how to predict his numbers. Can he play 130 games? Will he hit 15+ HR? I think I would answer “No” to both questions. I do believe that he will hit for a reasonably high average when he does play, and he might end up being a RBI machine. For that upside alone, I am willing to give him a shot this year, but I will be sure to have a backup plan just in case.
2B Jose Altuve—Altuve added power to his already deep arsenal. Right now he is going in the top five of drafts, and I have zero problems with that. He is one of the most exciting players in baseball and certainly someone to build your Fantasy teams around.
SS Carlos Correa—Correa was going as high as five in drafts last year, and sadly, he did not have such a great year. But was it really that bad? He did hit 20 HR and had 96 RBI. He stole 13 bases too and hit .274. There’s nothing wrong with those numbers, but Fantasy owners expected more. I think Correa might just be slightly undervalued when it is all said and done in 2017.
3B Alex Bregman—When Bregman was called up last season, he struggled mightily, and there were rumblings that the team was going to send him back to the minor leagues. Luckily, however, the team decided to let him fix his problems at the major league level, and he went on to have a terrific final few weeks of the season. This show of confidence can only help Bregman in the future as he knows that the team won’t give up on him at the sign of the first slump.
OF George Springer—Springer stayed perfectly healthy last year and had 644 AB for the Astros. He fell far short of the lofty 40/40 projections that some scouts thought was possible for him, but he still showed flashes of power and some speed. I think his power will continue to increase, but the visions of 40 stolen bases might never happen. Regardless, he is a great third round pick.
OF Josh Reddick—In 2015 Reddick showed the baseball world what he could do when healthy. The Astros are hoping that Reddick can do for them what he did for the A’s just a couple of years ago. When on his game, Reddick is good for 20 home runs and double digit steals and plays a reasonably good right field. I think he has a nice rebound season and flies under the Fantasy radar of those who will only look at his 2016’s numbers.
OF Norichika Aoki—Aoki’s stolen bases have dropped from 30 in 2012 to just seven last year. If they continue to drop much more, he will lose any of the remaining value he has.
DH Evan Gattis—If I owned Gattis, I would trade him ASAP to anyone desperate for a catcher. Yes, Gattis was great in 2016, but the Astros brought in Brian McCann who will steal at bats, and Gattis might end up being the primary DH in Houston.
SP Dallas Keuchel—I initially thought that 2014 was an outlier for Keuchel until I saw him pitch even better in 2015. In 2016, he struggled to find his command for much of the year and was even shut down for a time with shoulder issues. A lot of Fantasy owners will take a shot on Keuchel this year hoping that he can rebound to his old form. I remain cautiously optimistic. I won’t gamble on a full rebound from Keuchel as much as a partial rebound. If that means I miss out on him at my draft, then so be it.
SP Collin McHugh—McHugh totally overachieved in 2014 and had regressed in the two years following his breakout season. I still love his K/BB ratios and think that he can win 15 games too. The big thing for McHugh is cutting down on the home runs. He let up 25 in 184 innings last year which killed his ERA and the ERA of his Fantasy owners. I like McHugh as a potential rebound candidate this year.
SP Lance McCullers—Here’s what we know about McCullers when he is healthy, he might just be one of the top young pitchers in the AL. However, last year he dealt with shoulder and elbow issues and only pitched 81 innings. I can’t picture how he pitches more than 160 this season. That said, I will be eager to draft McCullers as my SP3 and hope to pair him with another young fireballer who comes up later in the season.
SP Mike Fiers—Fiers is fine as a 4th or 5th starter in an AL only league. His numbers are not exciting, but he won’t kill you either.
SP Joe Musgrove—Keep an eye on Musgrove as he is a future member of the Astros rotation even if he doesn’t begin the season with the team. I love the idea of stashing him in a deeper league and waiting to use him in the second half of the season when he should get a regular turn in the rotation.
RP Will Harris—Harris gives you great ratios and is a guy who I like in a league that use holds as a category. He also showed that he could close if Giles struggles.
Closer Ken Giles—I think the Astros made a huge mistake last year by not giving Giles the closer job from the second they got him in the deal with Philadelphia. When Giles was sent to the bullpen, it looked like he lost his confidence in his fastball. His 102 Ks in 65 innings shows that he can be unhittable when he is in the groove. He seemed to have figured out the problem by the end of last season and showed that he is fully capable of being the team’s closer.