Kelvin Kuo - USA Today Sports

Carlos Correa Leads the Houston Astros into 2017 Season

The Houston Astros have a leader heading into the 2017 season, and his name is Carlos Correa.

What a performance Carlos Correa put up in the World Baseball Classic. Despite going 0-4 in the finals against the U.S., Correa still put up a .563 OBP and a 1.463 OPS with three homers, including a big one in the semifinal game against the Netherlands, in the seven games before. With his performance in the tournament, it felt like a good time to write about him with the season coming up very shortly.

2016 was a weird year for Carlos Correa. Going into the year, the feeling was it was the Astros were Correa’s team, and expectations were he was going to contend for AL MVP. So with that, anything less than him displaying greatness, would be considered a disappointment. He didn’t end up playing at an MVP level, but in his first full year, he was really good.

At the plate, Correa had a slash of .274/.361/.451, with an OPS+ of 123. There is a lot to be happy with there, especially with him still being as young as he is. It is pretty clear that he wasn’t the best hitter on the team, with Altuve being the one who clearly took the crown, but he was at about the same level as George Springer at the plate.

He was very consistent the entire year, albeit a poor month of May. Really the only thing that is a little bit concerning is his strikeout rate, and really, at 21.1%, it is something that will probably improve with more experience.

He has a really good BB% at 11.4, and he makes a lot of hard contact at the plate. At this point as a hitter, there isn’t much to be concerned about with Correa, as he has really special tools at the plate and his statistics showed that last year.

If there is one thing that Astros fans should monitor, it is his defense. With the eye, Correa looks like a really good defender. We see him make a lot of highlight reel plays, whether it is a dive or a backhand with the throw on the run. The issue is the numbers really don’t support the eye. Last season at shortstop, Correa had -3 Defensive Runs Saved and a UZR of -2.3. These numbers definitely are not facts to be bragging about.

As good as Correa looks at the position, the numbers don’t lie. He is simply too big for the position. After watching his performance at third base during the World Baseball Classic, it seems like such a natural move for the Astros to make, especially with the ability that Alex Bregman has defensively. It doesn’t seem like a move the Astros have talked about, at least publicly, but it seems to be one the team should consider.

With a 4.9 fWAR (Fangraphs WAR), Correa is still near the top tier of shortstops. Players listed ahead of him in this statistic are Corey Seager, Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor, and Brandon Crawford, in that order.

The one thing that these guys have over Correa is defense. Offensively, it is more than fair to say Correa had a better year than Crawford and Lindor. Correa really is nearing the top tier of players in baseball, with a move to third base sure to help his value stats. 

Overall, there is so much to look forward to if you are a Carlos Correa fan. He won’t have to deal with a 436 foot fence in dead center field anymore which can hopefully add a homer or two to his total, and he’s coming off a great World Baseball Classic. He likely will not improve much at shortstop, so it will be interesting to see how A.J. Hinch handles that position in the long run.

Overall, look for Correa to pass Jose Altuve as the best player on the Houston Astros, and if he doesn’t, don’t fret, as he is still probably going to be a very special player in 2017.

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