2019 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for more than half a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Houston Astros.

Batters

Suffice it to say, the highs here are very, very high. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa are all threats to have MVP-caliber seasons in any given year. Yes, Correa missed significant time due to back soreness, his second season in a row marred by injury and time on the injured list. And yes, Correa did have easily the worst of his four major league seasons in 2018. But it’s still too early to call him injury-prone, and he’s 24, not 34. His age is also an important number to remember when we consider his offensive regression last year; if he were a hotshot shortstop prospect being called up for his age-23 season and had a .728 OPS in a theoretical 140-game rookie season, he’d be getting Rookie of the Year votes.

ZiPS is extremely optimistic when it comes to Kyle Tucker, and if he plays as well as his projection, I suspect he will force his way into the lineup quickly, kicking off domino effect that will result in Michael Brantley or Josh Reddick getting more DH playing time, Tyler White more time at first, and Yuli Gurriel more time on the bench. Gurriel was a good stopgap first baseman, but average-ish first basemen turning 35 don’t usually have gentle aging curves. It’s likely the Astros’ weakest position and if Tucker’s pushing comes to shoving, Gurriel is the most likely to lose at-bats.

Pitchers

Over the short-term, having Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole at the top of the rotation means the Astros will have to have some fairly nasty surprises come their way for their staff to not be in the top third of the majors. The depth is thinner, though, than it was with last year’s set, with Charlie Morton gone, Dallas Keuchel likely to sign elsewhere, and Lance McCullers missing 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. Things become more urgent in 2020, when Verlander (his vesting option was voided are part of his 2017 trade), Cole, and McHugh all hit free agency. The Astros have a lot of interesting and talented young pitching, and some part of that trio could stick around, but that’s a lot of wins to start replacing.

ZiPS is far from sold on Wade Miley, and that’s without the computer having dark, dark memories of watching him try to pitch as a Baltimore Oriole. Houston’s probably a good fit for Miley, and the organization will likely do a better-than-average job at wringing the most they can get out of him, but it still pays to be skeptical right now.

There’s a weird perception out there that Houston have a weak bullpen, which I feel is due in large part to the past underperformance of Ken Giles. But when it comes to ZiPS, if the Astros aren’t in the top 5 of projected bullpens when the season starts, they won’t miss it by much. It’s not the flashiest bunch, and there are obviously some non-baseball reasons to not be a fan of Roberto Osuna, but it’s a deep group. Plus, Brad Peacock can still theoretically start, even if he didn’t need to be used that way much in 2018 (his one start was a bullpen game).

Bench and Prospects

By getting Verlander and Cole for (relatively) light prospect packages, the Astros have been able to maintain a farm system ranking that I feel is still above-average, even if it is clearly below the game’s elite systems. Tucker is ready to start now, and ZiPS thinks Yordan Alvarez is fairly close to being a real offensive contributor, even if he has little defensive value. The computer also likes Forrest Whitley as one of the probable replacements for the pitchers Houston has lost, and thinks other pitching prospects (Cionel Perez, Corbin Martin) are capable of contributing in the majors without any face-splat-ation.

I share our friend Carson Cistulli’s fascination with lesser prospects, and one starter in particular sings to me. That is pitcher Rogelio Armenteros, who sometimes checks in toward the bottom of the top 10 on Houston prospect lists, but can generally be found in the teens. A low-profile Cuban defector some years ago, Armenteros doesn’t throw hard, generally in the low-90s. But while it seems unlikely that he’ll be a star, he’s also a guy with good command of a number of pitches, none of which are actually bad: two fastballs, a curve, a slider, and a changeup. He has also survived a whole season in the Pacific Coast League, so he’s no Hi-A hurler striking out helpless organizational players with mediocre stuff. The Astros talked about him possibly playing in the majors in 2018; that he didn’t has more to do with the fact that they didn’t need the depth than him, with only seven pitchers getting starts (the aforementioned Peacock and Chris Devenski each started one bullpen game). A high-floor pitcher may prove to be mighty useful if the Astros have some rotation upheaval.

Dean Deetz mostly got attention last year for drawing an 80-game suspension, but he might have received more playing time in the majors in 2018 if not for the unexpected vacation. I haven’t forced ZiPS to project him exclusively as a reliever yet, though I may before the start of the season depending on how the spring plays out. If his control can improve just a little, he’s got that upper-90s fastball and a really nasty slider, and spiked to 14 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors, up from 10.3 and 8.8 the previous two seasons.

One pedantic note for 2019: for the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth chart playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here at site.

Batters – Counting Stats
Player B Age PO G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Alex Bregman R 25 3B 155 581 97 161 40 4 26 95 77 94 12 5
Jose Altuve R 29 2B 146 577 91 178 32 3 18 75 53 77 24 7
Carlos Correa R 24 SS 130 484 76 127 27 2 21 92 65 127 6 1
George Springer R 29 CF 140 549 97 142 26 2 24 77 66 134 8 6
Kyle Tucker L 22 RF 131 503 76 134 30 4 23 81 43 119 17 6
Michael Brantley L 32 LF 126 491 68 140 29 1 13 67 44 57 11 2
Marwin Gonzalez B 30 LF 144 472 59 121 25 2 17 70 42 117 6 4
Myles Straw R 24 CF 132 522 64 131 15 4 2 32 57 119 43 9
Tyler White R 28 DH 132 471 66 121 23 2 20 77 52 108 2 2
Josh Reddick L 32 RF 129 442 61 118 20 2 14 58 42 74 7 2
Tony Kemp L 27 2B 135 467 61 125 18 4 7 45 42 68 19 7
Robinson Chirinos R 35 C 95 292 37 59 11 1 13 44 33 116 1 0
A.J. Reed L 26 1B 123 468 67 107 20 2 24 80 53 156 0 0
Evan Gattis R 32 C 118 407 48 97 18 2 21 77 29 99 1 1
Garrett Stubbs L 26 C 88 324 39 75 15 2 4 30 31 66 6 1
Jake Marisnick R 28 CF 122 294 46 65 15 2 12 38 19 103 11 5
Aledmys Diaz R 28 SS 127 445 55 113 25 1 14 55 26 73 4 4
Yordan Alvarez L 22 LF 99 384 52 98 18 1 17 56 35 117 7 2
Derek Fisher L 25 LF 118 417 59 90 17 3 18 58 47 163 14 5
Yuli Gurriel R 35 1B 130 504 64 137 35 1 14 75 26 71 4 1
Max Stassi R 28 C 84 247 32 52 11 0 10 33 25 87 1 0
Martin Maldonado R 32 C 114 348 33 73 14 1 9 39 21 98 0 1
Alex De Goti R 24 SS 120 438 45 96 19 2 8 40 28 114 7 7
Jamie Ritchie R 26 C 82 297 35 65 11 1 4 25 37 85 3 2
Abraham Toro-Hernandez B 22 3B 129 478 57 99 24 2 15 57 44 129 6 5
Lorenzo Quintana R 30 C 70 249 28 54 16 1 8 30 11 60 5 5
Jack Mayfield R 28 2B 110 420 49 98 21 1 13 51 25 105 5 2
Chuckie Robinson R 24 C 86 326 33 66 14 1 8 33 19 99 3 4
Nick Tanielu R 26 3B 115 445 47 109 20 2 8 46 23 76 3 3
Ronnie Dawson L 24 CF 118 456 52 96 18 3 13 49 37 159 19 12
Randy Cesar R 24 3B 115 450 45 101 17 1 8 40 27 149 2 2
Josh Rojas L 25 LF 122 465 55 102 21 5 9 45 45 114 22 10
Carmen Benedetti L 24 LF 84 309 35 67 13 1 6 29 33 111 7 3
J.J. Matijevic L 23 LF 100 392 49 86 18 3 17 53 28 137 10 12
Stephen Wrenn R 24 RF 117 467 51 95 16 3 10 42 33 163 24 8
Jonathan Arauz L 20 SS 123 447 44 90 16 5 8 37 34 101 6 8
Taylor Jones R 25 1B 115 429 46 86 19 1 11 45 40 150 1 0
Chas McCormick R 24 RF 120 434 43 97 17 3 4 34 32 83 12 4

 

Batters – Rate Stats
Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Alex Bregman 671 .277 .367 .494 137 .217 .293 6.8 -1 5.4 Ron Santo
Jose Altuve 644 .308 .372 .468 133 .159 .332 7.0 -1 4.9 Billy Herman
Carlos Correa 559 .262 .349 .457 122 .194 .315 5.9 -1 3.7 Scott Rolen
George Springer 626 .259 .345 .444 118 .186 .302 5.5 -2 3.4 Steve Kemp
Kyle Tucker 556 .266 .328 .479 121 .213 .307 5.9 4 3.1 Shawn Green
Michael Brantley 545 .285 .344 .428 114 .143 .302 5.7 0 2.2 Dale Mitchell
Marwin Gonzalez 524 .256 .322 .426 106 .169 .308 4.9 4 1.9 Beau Bell
Myles Straw 587 .251 .325 .307 78 .056 .322 4.1 7 1.9 Milt Cuyler
Tyler White 533 .257 .336 .442 115 .185 .294 5.3 0 1.9 Merely Good Frank Thomas
Josh Reddick 489 .267 .328 .416 106 .149 .294 5.1 4 1.8 Jorge Orta
Tony Kemp 521 .268 .332 .368 95 .101 .301 4.6 -4 1.3 Pete Runnels
Robinson Chirinos 340 .202 .307 .380 90 .178 .282 4.0 0 1.3 Andy Seminick
A.J. Reed 529 .229 .308 .434 104 .205 .288 4.7 1 1.3 Damon Minor
Evan Gattis 444 .238 .291 .447 101 .209 .265 4.6 -7 1.1 Jody Davis
Garrett Stubbs 364 .231 .304 .327 76 .096 .280 3.6 4 1.0 Doug Newstrom
Jake Marisnick 323 .221 .280 .408 89 .187 .296 4.0 4 1.0 Tony Barron
Aledmys Diaz 480 .254 .299 .409 95 .155 .277 4.3 -5 1.0 Eric McNair
Yordan Alvarez 425 .255 .315 .440 108 .185 .324 5.1 -3 0.9 Nick Markakis
Derek Fisher 470 .216 .300 .400 93 .185 .305 4.2 2 0.9 Chin-Feng Chen
Yuli Gurriel 543 .272 .314 .429 104 .157 .294 5.0 -3 0.8 Steve Garvey
Max Stassi 278 .211 .295 .377 86 .166 .280 3.8 0 0.8 B.J. Waszgis
Martin Maldonado 386 .210 .275 .333 69 .124 .266 3.1 4 0.7 Chad Moeller
Alex De Goti 477 .219 .274 .326 67 .107 .278 2.9 7 0.6 Ricky Magdaleno
Jamie Ritchie 341 .219 .315 .303 74 .084 .293 3.3 0 0.6 Dave Huppert
Abraham Toro-Hernandez 533 .207 .283 .360 78 .153 .251 3.4 1 0.4 Peter Pope
Lorenzo Quintana 265 .217 .264 .386 78 .169 .254 3.3 -1 0.3 Jim Horner
Jack Mayfield 453 .233 .279 .381 82 .148 .281 3.8 -3 0.3 Jeffrey Baisley
Chuckie Robinson 348 .202 .250 .325 59 .123 .265 2.6 6 0.2 Alan Probst
Nick Tanielu 476 .245 .284 .353 76 .108 .280 3.5 1 0.2 Bobby Bragan
Ronnie Dawson 500 .211 .277 .349 73 .138 .292 3.2 -5 -0.5 Tito Nanni
Randy Cesar 481 .224 .268 .320 63 .096 .317 2.9 1 -0.5 Jack Hannahan
Josh Rojas 518 .219 .286 .344 75 .125 .272 3.5 0 -0.6 Gary Johnson
Carmen Benedetti 346 .217 .293 .324 72 .107 .318 3.3 -2 -0.6 Rick Sofield
J.J. Matijevic 425 .219 .273 .411 87 .191 .290 3.5 -5 -0.7 Brian Dubose
Stephen Wrenn 512 .203 .260 .315 60 .111 .289 3.0 6 -0.7 Camilo Veras
Jonathan Arauz 485 .201 .260 .313 59 .112 .243 2.5 -4 -1.1 Todd Carey
Taylor Jones 480 .200 .277 .326 68 .126 .280 3.1 -1 -1.1 Christian Snavely
Chas McCormick 477 .224 .277 .304 62 .081 .268 3.0 0 -1.2 Fernando Rios

 

Pitchers – Counting Stats
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO
Justin Verlander R 36 15 7 3.02 30 30 187.7 148 63 23 44 215
Gerrit Cole R 28 13 7 3.16 31 31 188.0 161 66 19 51 216
Dallas Keuchel L 31 13 9 3.68 30 30 183.7 178 75 18 51 141
Lance McCullers R 25 10 6 3.51 25 23 128.3 115 50 11 49 139
Collin McHugh R 32 10 7 3.69 23 23 134.0 127 55 16 37 126
Brad Peacock R 31 6 4 3.46 43 11 93.7 78 36 11 36 115
Framber Valdez L 25 8 7 4.25 29 19 127.0 119 60 14 62 117
Josh James R 26 6 5 4.21 22 20 104.7 97 49 12 52 109
Ryan Pressly R 30 3 2 3.09 69 0 67.0 55 23 7 21 82
Wade Miley L 32 7 7 4.52 24 24 121.3 128 61 15 45 94
Cionel Perez L 23 5 4 4.13 29 13 89.3 85 41 9 39 81
Roberto Osuna R 24 3 2 2.96 56 0 54.7 49 18 5 8 53
Rogelio Armenteros R 25 5 5 4.57 23 21 114.3 114 58 18 50 111
Chris Devenski R 28 5 3 3.39 56 1 63.7 54 24 8 17 70
Brock Dykxhoorn R 24 6 6 4.70 25 20 113.0 119 59 16 46 90
Brandon Bielak R 23 8 8 4.65 26 17 108.3 112 56 17 45 91
Will Harris R 34 4 2 3.29 56 0 52.0 45 19 5 13 55
Brady Rodgers R 28 5 5 4.52 17 16 77.7 86 39 11 21 52
Forrest Whitley R 21 3 3 4.23 17 14 61.7 55 29 8 32 70
Corbin Martin R 23 7 7 4.80 25 21 108.7 115 58 18 38 86
Joe Smith R 35 4 3 3.54 56 0 48.3 45 19 5 14 43
Hector Rondon R 31 4 3 3.63 61 0 57.0 53 23 7 16 60
Dean Deetz R 25 4 4 4.48 28 9 66.3 58 33 8 44 75
Ryan Hartman L 25 6 7 4.90 24 17 101.0 108 55 19 33 87
Brendan McCurry R 27 6 5 3.90 47 0 64.7 63 28 8 20 61
J.B. Bukauskas R 22 3 3 4.70 15 15 53.7 52 28 6 32 47
Jose Hernandez R 24 3 4 4.92 18 16 82.3 94 45 14 20 54
Kit Scheetz L 25 2 2 3.99 40 0 65.3 64 29 8 20 58
Cy Sneed R 26 7 8 4.85 25 20 115.0 124 62 16 48 84
Tony Sipp L 35 2 1 3.72 50 0 36.3 33 15 5 13 38
Kent Emanuel L 27 5 5 4.88 27 13 90.3 101 49 14 31 64
Akeem Bostick R 24 4 5 5.04 22 16 91.0 97 51 14 40 71
Matt Ramsey R 29 3 2 4.30 39 1 46.0 44 22 6 21 45
Brandon Bailey R 24 6 7 4.99 25 17 106.3 108 59 16 58 93
Bryan Abreu R 22 3 4 5.28 13 7 44.3 41 26 8 32 53
Reymin Guduan L 27 4 4 4.50 49 0 58.0 53 29 7 36 64
Francis Martes R 23 3 3 5.25 25 9 58.3 55 34 8 44 60
Erasmo Pinales R 24 4 4 4.82 39 0 56.0 53 30 6 39 53
Ronel Blanco R 25 4 5 5.25 29 4 61.7 62 36 7 46 53
Ralph Garza R 25 4 5 4.91 37 0 66.0 66 36 8 40 57
Alex Winkelman L 25 4 5 5.58 30 7 71.0 71 44 7 65 59
Brett Adcock L 23 5 8 5.51 26 15 94.7 98 58 13 64 73
Andrew Thome R 26 3 4 5.48 32 0 47.7 56 29 7 20 24
Justin Ferrell R 25 4 7 6.03 32 4 62.7 68 42 14 36 58

 

Pitchers – Rate Stats
Player TBF K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA+ ERA- FIP WAR No. 1 Comp
Justin Verlander 749 10.31 2.11 1.10 .271 137 73 3.25 4.8 Kevin Brown
Gerrit Cole 771 10.34 2.44 0.91 .297 127 79 3.09 4.1 Orel Hershiser
Dallas Keuchel 768 6.91 2.50 0.88 .288 112 89 3.75 3.3 Mel Parnell
Lance McCullers 548 9.75 3.44 0.77 .304 118 85 3.41 2.6 Jason Schmidt
Collin McHugh 564 8.46 2.49 1.07 .294 112 90 3.81 2.5 John Thomson
Brad Peacock 392 11.05 3.46 1.06 .295 119 84 3.47 1.6 Odell Jones
Framber Valdez 561 8.29 4.39 0.99 .292 97 103 4.39 1.4 Trevor Wilson
Josh James 462 9.37 4.47 1.03 .300 98 102 4.22 1.3 Bob Walk
Ryan Pressly 275 11.01 2.82 0.94 .294 134 75 3.09 1.1 Tim Scott
Wade Miley 532 6.97 3.34 1.11 .302 91 110 4.42 1.0 Danny Jackson
Cionel Perez 390 8.16 3.93 0.91 .296 100 100 4.09 1.0 Luke Walker
Roberto Osuna 220 8.73 1.32 0.82 .291 139 72 3.00 1.0 Cla Meredith
Rogelio Armenteros 505 8.74 3.94 1.42 .300 90 111 4.72 0.9 J.D. Durbin
Chris Devenski 260 9.90 2.40 1.13 .282 122 82 3.48 0.9 Cris Carpenter
Brock Dykxhoorn 502 7.17 3.66 1.27 .299 88 114 4.78 0.7 Jake Dittler
Brandon Bielak 480 7.56 3.74 1.41 .296 89 113 4.92 0.7 Ed Wojna
Will Harris 212 9.52 2.25 0.87 .290 126 80 3.09 0.7 Carl Willis
Brady Rodgers 338 6.03 2.43 1.27 .300 91 110 4.62 0.7 Heath Totten
Forrest Whitley 272 10.22 4.67 1.17 .297 94 106 4.32 0.6 A.J. Burnett
Corbin Martin 477 7.12 3.15 1.49 .295 86 116 4.94 0.6 Jon Perlman
Joe Smith 204 8.01 2.61 0.93 .288 117 86 3.77 0.5 Todd Williams
Hector Rondon 237 9.47 2.53 1.11 .301 110 91 3.54 0.5 Chad Bradford
Dean Deetz 301 10.18 5.97 1.09 .294 92 108 4.63 0.4 Ted Langdon
Ryan Hartman 443 7.75 2.94 1.69 .299 84 119 5.03 0.4 John Peterson
Brendan McCurry 275 8.49 2.78 1.11 .301 106 94 3.94 0.4 Rafael Montalvo
J.B. Bukauskas 243 7.88 5.37 1.01 .295 88 114 4.75 0.4 Julio Santana
Jose Hernandez 359 5.90 2.19 1.53 .301 84 119 4.96 0.3 Tim Kester
Kit Scheetz 279 7.99 2.76 1.10 .296 103 97 4.07 0.3 Norm Montoya
Cy Sneed 514 6.57 3.76 1.25 .300 82 121 4.91 0.3 Sean White
Tony Sipp 154 9.41 3.22 1.24 .289 111 90 4.00 0.3 Steve Kline
Kent Emanuel 401 6.38 3.09 1.39 .303 85 118 4.94 0.3 Lee Guetterman
Akeem Bostick 408 7.02 3.96 1.38 .299 82 122 5.07 0.2 Brandon Sloan
Matt Ramsey 202 8.80 4.11 1.17 .297 96 104 4.39 0.1 Mike Bumstead
Brandon Bailey 483 7.87 4.91 1.35 .297 80 125 5.16 0.1 Dan Murray
Bryan Abreu 206 10.76 6.50 1.62 .300 78 128 5.47 -0.1 Joaquin Benoit
Reymin Guduan 262 9.93 5.59 1.09 .303 92 109 4.53 -0.1 Bobby Sprowl
Francis Martes 276 9.26 6.79 1.23 .297 79 127 5.45 -0.1 Tim Meeks
Erasmo Pinales 259 8.52 6.27 0.96 .297 86 117 4.90 -0.3 Heathcliff Slocumb
Ronel Blanco 293 7.74 6.71 1.02 .301 79 127 5.34 -0.3 Brett Merriman
Ralph Garza 303 7.77 5.45 1.09 .299 84 119 5.00 -0.4 Lloyd Allen
Alex Winkelman 348 7.48 8.24 0.89 .300 74 135 5.69 -0.5 Brian Adams
Brett Adcock 445 6.94 6.08 1.24 .294 73 138 5.61 -0.6 Bryan Clark
Andrew Thome 218 4.53 3.78 1.32 .299 75 133 5.50 -0.6 Andy Nezelek
Justin Ferrell 292 8.33 5.17 2.01 .300 68 146 6.12 -0.9 John Thompson

 

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors — many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2019. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production — a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams, unless I have made a mistake. This is very possible, as a lot of minor-league signings go generally unreported in the offseason.

ZiPS’ projections are based on the American League having a 4.29 ERA and the National League having a 4.15 ERA.

Players who are expected to be out due to injury are still projected. More information is always better than less information, and a computer isn’t the tool that should project the injury status of, for example, a pitcher who has had Tommy John surgery.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR — which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR.

We hoped you liked reading 2019 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros by Dan Szymborski!

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Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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tmcgowan
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tmcgowan

Doubled the counting stats table and no rate stats table for pitchers so no comps FYI as of 1107am EST