2020 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 eight years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Houston Astros.

Batters

Let’s get the garbage receptacle in the room out of the way: there are no adjustments for sign-stealing related shenanigans baked into ZiPS. The simple truth is that the data to do so doesn’t really exist, and any adjustments made for an unknown effect on unknown players for an unknown amount of time would lack any precision. It’s one of those unknowables floating around in the aether that makes up part of the error bars.

Houston’s front-end offensive talent remains an absolute battering ram. The great players are, well, great, and there are few holes in the lineup, though there will be less offense behind the plate in 2020, and Gurriel’s age means he’s always a cliff-diving risk in any given season.

What’s fascinating about Houston’s offense is that Carlos Correa has, to some extent, been forgotten. After three consecutive years during which he’s missed significant time due to injury, he’s not talked about with the awe he was a few years ago. But let’s not forget that he turned 25 just a few months ago. Even with the missed time, Correa has produced 4.7 wins per 600 plate appearances, so it’s not as if his poor attendance has been matched by disappointing play.

ZiPS remains high on Kyle Tucker, higher than Steamer — the relatively low right field production on the graphic is more Josh Reddick-related. The computer still isn’t quite confident enough to call Michael Brantley a 150-game player, but after two healthy seasons, some of the red flags about his injury record have taken on a more yellowish hue.

And yes, Alex Bregman is amazing. You were expecting something different?

Pitchers

Justin Verlander projects to continue to be Justin Verlander for another season, which is quite important given the loss of Gerrit Cole to the Yankees. Lance McCullers Jr. stepping back into the fray is also a very big deal for the team, as it’s otherwise lacking in rotation depth. I still feel like the Astros could use another mid-rotation starter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a reclamation project made his way to Houston; I’ve had Danny Salazar as an Astro in my headspace since the moment he was cut loose by Cleveland.

ZiPS really, really likes the bullpen, even the back end. I think 7 WAR is a very aggressive projection, even with the various scattered sub-replacement innings most teams get from their bullpen basements. ZiPS never fell out of love with Chris Devenski and even Bryan Abreu’s rather bland projection looks a lot better when you consider I didn’t ask the computer to project him purely as a reliever.

The Astros are really short on lefties, and while I don’t think that’s as dangerous as some people do, it’s nice to have guys for those situations. It’s this lack of southpaw depth that goes a long way to explaining why Blake Taylor and Kent Emanuel have spots on the 40-man roster, with ZiPS preferring the former.

Prospects

Forrest Whitley is a top prospect based on his build, his fastball, and the upside of his breaking pitches. From a projection standpoint, he’s still a work in progress, so I wouldn’t be concerned about the pedestrian numbers below. Whitley just doesn’t have a very long professional track record yet thanks to a drug suspension and some abdominal injuries. The team has been very cautious with him for good reasons; better to wait longer for Whitley than risk lat or oblique soreness causing a dangerous change in his delivery.

Assuming you count Tucker as a major leaguer, there’s not a lot of pizazz in the system after Whitley. ZiPS has Brandon Bielak and Tyler Ivey in the “interesting” category, but neither will make a 2020 impact in the majors unless they have Urquidy-type breakouts. Where ZiPS does have some interest is in Abraham Toro; the systems sees him as good enough offensively to at least be a role player in the majors right now. There’s some disagreement on his defense here; scouts tend not to like his fielding but ZiPS, with zDEF derived from a probabilistic approach to Gameday play-by-play data, does not think he’s a major problem at third. Jack Mayfield has potential in a poor man’s Dan Uggla sort of way, but I suspect his cups of coffee will come in another organization.

One pedantic note for 2020: for the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth charts 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.

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Alex Bregman R 26 3B 672 560 110 161 39 3 34 110 98 89 10 3
George Springer R 30 CF 585 509 98 139 23 2 31 91 66 120 6 4
Jose Altuve R 30 2B 603 544 90 166 29 3 24 78 48 83 16 6
Yordan Alvarez L 23 DH 568 495 85 142 30 1 35 107 66 139 4 2
Carlos Correa R 25 SS 468 406 63 109 23 1 22 85 53 108 3 1
Kyle Tucker L 23 RF 608 548 92 145 29 3 26 95 50 133 27 5
Michael Brantley L 33 LF 573 520 74 152 30 2 15 72 43 60 6 2
Abraham Toro B 23 3B 622 554 76 135 30 5 18 71 54 124 5 4
Myles Straw R 25 CF 526 469 62 122 14 4 2 30 50 102 30 7
Aledmys Diaz R 29 SS 396 356 51 93 19 1 14 53 30 56 3 2
Yuli Gurriel R 36 1B 551 513 66 144 34 1 18 82 26 61 4 2
Garrett Stubbs L 27 C 323 290 37 66 14 1 6 29 26 62 9 2
Josh Reddick L 33 RF 502 458 57 123 20 2 13 54 37 67 5 2
Martin Maldonado R 33 C 374 335 39 71 14 0 11 37 26 97 0 1
Jamie Ritchie R 27 C 304 268 32 61 12 0 4 24 30 72 2 0
Nick Tanielu R 27 3B 499 464 53 114 24 2 12 54 28 90 3 3
Jack Mayfield R 29 2B 472 438 56 104 25 1 18 61 26 103 5 2
Dustin Garneau R 32 C 234 209 26 43 10 0 8 29 18 64 0 1
Alex De Goti R 25 2B 518 472 54 107 21 2 11 48 34 120 5 5
Lorenzo Quintana R 31 C 285 269 32 61 13 1 11 36 10 70 4 4
Drew Ferguson R 27 CF 451 395 53 90 17 3 9 40 45 120 16 6
Taylor Jones R 26 1B 501 444 56 99 20 1 15 54 45 137 0 1
Chas McCormick R 25 LF 446 394 48 93 11 4 8 37 42 76 12 4
J.J. Matijevic L 24 1B 382 352 42 74 18 2 15 46 25 136 8 5
Chuckie Robinson R 25 C 397 372 34 71 15 1 8 34 20 130 5 2
Stephen Wrenn R 25 RF 484 440 49 92 16 4 10 41 33 149 19 6
Colton Shaver R 24 3B 461 409 49 78 17 1 17 51 41 158 1 2
Jake Meyers R 24 CF 479 436 45 85 19 2 9 36 33 130 9 9
Jeremy Pena R 22 SS 475 432 46 93 14 4 7 34 31 109 13 8
Ronnie Dawson L 25 CF 504 455 54 90 17 2 14 48 38 177 14 11
Granden Goetzman R 27 RF 308 287 30 55 10 2 8 30 18 98 5 3
Freudis Nova R 20 SS 336 322 31 67 12 0 9 30 11 92 10 9
Corey Julks R 24 LF 464 419 42 87 17 2 6 31 39 127 10 8
Osvaldo Duarte R 24 SS 493 461 44 89 13 5 9 38 27 171 14 12
Anibal Sierra R 26 SS 413 381 33 63 11 1 6 26 23 155 2 5
Bryan de la Cruz R 23 RF 507 466 50 104 20 3 7 40 34 116 9 7

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Alex Bregman .288 .399 .550 154 .263 .291 8.4 1 6.4 Ron Santo
George Springer .273 .362 .509 133 .236 .302 6.8 1 4.2 Del Ennis
Jose Altuve .305 .366 .502 132 .197 .325 7.2 -2 4.0 Roberto Alomar
Yordan Alvarez .287 .370 .564 148 .277 .333 7.9 0 3.8 Kent Hrbek
Carlos Correa .268 .353 .493 126 .224 .315 6.4 0 3.1 Ryan Zimmerman
Kyle Tucker .265 .329 .471 113 .206 .306 6.0 7 2.9 Von Hayes
Michael Brantley .292 .349 .444 113 .152 .308 6.0 1 2.1 Tommy Holmes
Abraham Toro .244 .320 .413 97 .170 .284 4.7 0 1.7 Craig Kuzmic
Myles Straw .260 .333 .320 79 .060 .329 4.3 6 1.4 Alex Cole
Aledmys Diaz .261 .323 .438 104 .177 .276 5.1 -4 1.2 Kevin Orie
Yuli Gurriel .281 .319 .456 107 .175 .290 5.5 -3 0.9 Al Oliver
Garrett Stubbs .228 .298 .345 74 .117 .270 3.8 5 0.9 Mike Durant
Josh Reddick .269 .319 .406 95 .138 .291 4.8 3 0.9 Joe Orsulak
Martin Maldonado .212 .286 .352 72 .140 .264 3.4 4 0.7 Scott Servais
Jamie Ritchie .228 .313 .317 72 .090 .297 3.5 3 0.6 Mike Durant
Nick Tanielu .246 .291 .384 81 .138 .282 3.9 3 0.6 Rey Quinones
Jack Mayfield .237 .282 .422 87 .185 .271 4.2 -3 0.5 Jake Gautreau
Dustin Garneau .206 .282 .368 74 .163 .255 3.4 3 0.5 Chad Moeller
Alex De Goti .227 .283 .350 70 .123 .282 3.3 6 0.3 Tony Granadillo
Lorenzo Quintana .227 .267 .405 78 .178 .266 3.6 0 0.3 Blake Barthol
Drew Ferguson .228 .318 .354 82 .127 .305 4.0 -5 0.2 Ryan Spilborghs
Taylor Jones .223 .301 .374 82 .151 .288 3.9 3 -0.1 Ryan Finan
Chas McCormick .236 .312 .345 78 .109 .274 3.9 1 -0.1 John Lewis
J.J. Matijevic .210 .264 .401 76 .190 .294 3.6 -1 -0.7 Ron Shepherd
Chuckie Robinson .191 .239 .301 45 .110 .269 2.4 3 -0.7 Jose Lobaton
Stephen Wrenn .209 .270 .332 62 .123 .292 3.2 4 -0.7 Camilo Veras
Colton Shaver .191 .273 .362 70 .171 .261 3.2 -8 -1.0 Craig Kuzmic
Jake Meyers .195 .259 .310 54 .115 .256 2.5 2 -1.0 Bob Zupcic
Jeremy Pena .215 .276 .315 60 .100 .272 2.9 -6 -1.1 Jason Bowers
Ronnie Dawson .198 .270 .336 63 .138 .288 2.9 -6 -1.3 DaRond Stovall
Granden Goetzman .192 .240 .324 51 .132 .260 2.6 -3 -1.6 Kris Harvey
Freudis Nova .208 .235 .329 51 .121 .262 2.4 -7 -1.6 Eddy Martinez
Corey Julks .208 .280 .301 58 .093 .283 2.7 -6 -2.0 Steve Garrabrants
Osvaldo Duarte .193 .242 .302 46 .108 .285 2.2 -6 -2.1 Christian Lara
Anibal Sierra .165 .223 .247 28 .081 .259 1.6 -2 -2.3 Keith Grunewald
Bryan de la Cruz .223 .278 .324 63 .101 .283 3.0 -10 -2.4 Erold Andrus

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Justin Verlander R 37 16 8 3.22 30 30 190.3 143 68 31 43 243 3.42
Zack Greinke R 36 13 8 3.91 30 30 179.7 166 78 31 35 172 4.09
Lance McCullers Jr. R 26 7 5 4.03 19 18 98.3 91 44 11 42 107 3.74
Jose Urquidy R 25 8 7 4.58 29 25 139.7 136 71 26 39 131 4.56
Aaron Sanchez R 27 9 7 4.64 25 25 128.0 126 66 16 65 110 4.61
Roberto Osuna R 25 5 2 3.03 65 0 62.3 52 21 8 11 69 3.16
Brett Conine R 23 7 6 4.54 28 16 115.0 113 58 16 46 102 4.41
Framber Valdez L 26 9 8 4.47 33 16 116.7 106 58 15 62 124 4.32
Collin McHugh R 33 6 4 4.00 35 11 87.7 81 39 12 31 94 3.88
Ryan Pressly R 31 4 2 3.05 60 0 59.0 46 20 7 17 77 2.98
Brad Peacock R 32 7 6 4.44 34 17 103.3 93 51 18 44 117 4.46
Josh James R 27 5 4 4.14 35 10 82.7 68 38 11 45 111 3.86
Bryan Abreu R 23 5 5 4.55 32 17 99.0 85 50 13 69 117 4.61
Tyler Ivey R 24 4 3 4.60 20 15 76.3 73 39 12 32 78 4.44
Cionel Perez L 24 4 4 4.67 30 16 86.7 85 45 13 42 82 4.69
Brandon Bielak R 24 8 8 5.12 24 20 114.3 117 65 21 52 101 5.17
Chris Devenski R 29 4 2 3.95 59 1 68.3 61 30 11 19 73 3.97
Blake Taylor L 24 4 3 4.54 35 6 69.3 64 35 6 46 67 4.36
Cristian Javier R 23 6 6 5.22 26 18 100.0 88 58 19 70 126 5.23
Enoli Paredes R 24 5 5 5.11 23 11 81.0 73 46 14 52 94 5.03
Joe Smith R 36 2 2 3.82 43 0 37.7 36 16 5 10 36 3.79
Forrest Whitley R 22 5 5 5.12 18 15 58.0 54 33 10 35 66 4.96
Rogelio Armenteros R 26 6 7 5.35 23 20 102.7 107 61 22 43 99 5.29
Brady Rodgers R 29 3 3 5.21 17 13 67.3 75 39 12 22 47 5.08
Humberto Castellanos R 22 4 3 4.35 35 0 72.3 74 35 11 19 59 4.31
Cy Sneed R 27 7 7 5.33 25 13 99.7 108 59 18 39 82 5.06
Brendan McCurry R 28 5 4 4.53 42 1 59.7 58 30 10 22 60 4.45
Kent Emanuel L 28 5 5 5.26 27 10 92.3 104 54 17 28 68 5.01
Leovanny Rodriguez R 24 5 5 5.08 32 5 72.7 76 41 12 37 61 5.18
Chad Donato R 25 8 9 5.52 25 18 107.7 117 66 22 47 90 5.47
Joe Biagini R 30 3 3 4.57 65 0 67.0 68 34 9 27 59 4.37
Dean Deetz R 26 2 1 4.69 29 0 40.3 34 21 6 28 53 4.57
Kit Scheetz L 26 1 1 4.70 36 0 59.3 59 31 10 23 55 4.68
Jon Edwards R 32 4 3 4.74 46 0 49.3 45 26 8 29 56 4.78
Reymin Guduan L 28 3 3 4.82 40 0 46.7 44 25 7 30 51 4.87
Andre Scrubb R 25 4 4 5.11 42 2 61.7 57 35 8 47 65 5.04
Layne Henderson R 24 3 3 5.06 23 0 37.3 35 21 5 29 38 5.22
Francis Martes R 24 1 1 6.75 4 4 13.3 13 10 2 14 15 6.03
Riley Ferrell R 26 2 2 5.30 31 0 37.3 36 22 6 25 39 5.19
Ronel Blanco R 26 4 4 5.50 31 3 55.7 55 34 9 38 53 5.43
Ryan Hartman, Ryan Hartman L 26 6 7 5.86 24 17 106.0 118 69 27 39 93 5.84
Ralph Garza R 26 4 5 5.17 41 0 69.7 70 40 11 36 65 4.92
Felipe Paulino R 36 2 4 6.26 19 7 46.0 51 32 11 26 39 6.29
Akeem Bostick R 25 4 5 6.07 21 13 86.0 96 58 19 42 68 5.94
Carlos Sanabria R 23 4 5 5.73 43 0 59.7 58 38 12 45 66 5.84
Brett Adcock L 24 4 7 6.75 23 18 84.0 92 63 18 64 66 6.68
Carson LaRue R 24 5 8 6.68 23 19 98.3 119 73 26 45 66 6.65
Colin McKee R 26 2 4 6.93 37 0 49.3 48 38 11 51 57 6.87
Justin Ferrell R 26 3 5 7.43 28 3 49.7 57 41 14 37 42 7.39

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Justin Verlander 11.5 2.0 1.5 5.7% 32.3% .261 138 72 5.0 Kevin Brown
Zack Greinke 8.6 1.8 1.6 4.8% 23.5% .276 114 88 3.4 Ken Forsch
Lance McCullers Jr. 9.8 3.8 1.0 9.8% 25.1% .305 110 91 1.8 Bill Bonham
Jose Urquidy 8.4 2.5 1.7 6.6% 22.2% .284 97 103 1.6 Wally Bunker
Aaron Sanchez 7.7 4.6 1.1 11.3% 19.2% .293 96 105 1.4 Steve Arlin
Roberto Osuna 10.0 1.6 1.2 4.4% 27.7% .278 146 68 1.4 Matt Capps
Brett Conine 8.0 3.6 1.3 9.1% 20.3% .292 98 102 1.3 Rick Sutcliffe
Framber Valdez 9.6 4.8 1.2 12.0% 24.0% .294 99 101 1.3 Luke Walker
Collin McHugh 9.7 3.2 1.2 8.3% 25.2% .297 111 90 1.3 Mike Fyhrie
Ryan Pressly 11.7 2.6 1.1 7.1% 32.2% .287 146 69 1.2 Mike Maddux
Brad Peacock 10.2 3.8 1.6 9.9% 26.4% .287 100 100 1.2 Kelly Downs
Josh James 12.1 4.9 1.2 12.5% 30.7% .302 107 93 1.1 Clay Bryant
Bryan Abreu 10.6 6.3 1.2 15.3% 25.9% .293 98 102 1.1 Bob Brown
Tyler Ivey 9.2 3.8 1.4 9.6% 23.4% .295 97 104 0.9 Dave Morehead
Cionel Perez 8.5 4.4 1.4 10.9% 21.4% .295 95 105 0.8 Ken Chase
Brandon Bielak 8.0 4.1 1.7 10.2% 19.8% .291 87 115 0.7 Aaron Thompson
Chris Devenski 9.6 2.5 1.4 6.7% 25.7% .281 112 89 0.6 Jeff Innis
Blake Taylor 8.7 6.0 0.8 14.5% 21.1% .299 98 102 0.6 Luke Walker
Cristian Javier 11.3 6.3 1.7 15.3% 27.5% .291 85 118 0.4 John D’Acquisto
Enoli Paredes 10.4 5.8 1.6 14.2% 25.6% .291 87 115 0.4 Bob Brown
Joe Smith 8.6 2.4 1.2 6.3% 22.8% .295 116 86 0.4 Todd Williams
Forrest Whitley 10.2 5.4 1.6 13.4% 25.3% .297 87 115 0.3 Dick Ruthven
Rogelio Armenteros 8.7 3.8 1.9 9.4% 21.7% .296 83 120 0.3 Ed Wojna
Brady Rodgers 6.3 2.9 1.6 7.4% 15.8% .296 85 117 0.3 Ownie Carroll
Humberto Castellanos 7.3 2.4 1.4 6.1% 19.1% .292 102 98 0.3 Bill Castro
Cy Sneed 7.4 3.5 1.6 8.8% 18.5% .300 83 120 0.2 Bill Swift
Brendan McCurry 9.1 3.3 1.5 8.5% 23.3% .294 98 102 0.2 Mark Ross
Kent Emanuel 6.6 2.7 1.7 6.9% 16.7% .301 84 119 0.2 Mike Caldwell
Leovanny Rodriguez 7.6 4.6 1.5 11.2% 18.5% .296 87 114 0.1 Ray Herbert
Chad Donato 7.5 3.9 1.8 9.7% 18.5% .297 80 124 0.1 Sean White
Joe Biagini 7.9 3.6 1.2 9.2% 20.1% .301 97 103 0.1 Jim Todd
Dean Deetz 11.8 6.2 1.3 15.2% 28.8% .298 95 106 0.0 Ryan Bukvich
Kit Scheetz 8.3 3.5 1.5 8.9% 21.2% .292 94 106 0.0 Jim Roland
Jon Edwards 10.2 5.3 1.5 13.1% 25.2% .294 94 107 0.0 Dennis Higgins
Reymin Guduan 9.8 5.8 1.4 14.1% 23.9% .301 92 109 -0.1 Tippy Martinez
Andre Scrubb 9.5 6.9 1.2 16.3% 22.6% .297 87 115 -0.1 Rich Gossage
Layne Henderson 9.2 7.0 1.2 16.5% 21.6% .297 88 114 -0.1 Hal Reniff
Francis Martes 10.1 9.5 1.4 20.9% 22.4% .314 66 152 -0.2 Adam Harben
Riley Ferrell 9.4 6.0 1.4 14.5% 22.5% .297 84 119 -0.2 Ken Wright
Ronel Blanco 8.6 6.1 1.5 14.7% 20.5% .295 81 124 -0.3 Brett Merriman
Ryan Hartman 7.9 3.3 2.3 8.2% 19.7% .295 76 132 -0.3 Lance Davis
Ralph Garza 8.4 4.7 1.4 11.5% 20.7% .298 86 116 -0.4 Barry Hertzler
Felipe Paulino 7.6 5.1 2.2 12.1% 18.1% .294 71 141 -0.4 Lou Kretlow
Akeem Bostick 7.1 4.4 2.0 10.6% 17.2% .295 73 137 -0.5 Cristhian Martinez
Carlos Sanabria 10.0 6.8 1.8 16.0% 23.4% .297 77 129 -0.7 Heathcliff Slocumb
Brett Adcock 7.1 6.9 1.9 15.7% 16.2% .291 66 152 -1.0 Brian Holliday
Carson LaRue 6.0 4.1 2.4 9.8% 14.4% .296 66 150 -1.1 Derek Lowe
Colin McKee 10.4 9.3 2.0 20.6% 23.1% .296 64 156 -1.2 Johnny Humphries
Justin Ferrell 7.6 6.7 2.5 15.3% 17.4% .295 60 167 -1.3 Matt Smith

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2020 due to injury, and players who were released in 2019. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in June to form a ska-cowpunk Luxembourgian bubblegum pop-death metal band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

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 the 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.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article.

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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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sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Brett Conine! Loving the aggressive projection here.