Houston Astros 2019 Fantasy Projections – Very Few Problems in Houston
Sports fans have heard the saying, "trust the process", when team management seems to have a plan for future success. During a handful of abysmal seasons, Houstonians certainly must have wondered what they were trusting. Well, when the Astros hoisted baseball's most coveted prize in 2017, all their trust was rewarded.
Now heading into a season two-years removed from the franchise's first world title, the Astros are still one of professional baseballs most talented teams. They are realistically seen as again having the talent to reach 100 wins. However, they better not look over their shoulder too long, as there is a team in California closing the gap fast.
Houston Astros 2018 Recap
Seems difficult to believe that a team that scores nearly 800 runs, landing in the top-third of Major League Baseball for offensive production, would be seen as having a drop off in production. The Houston Astros scored nearly 100 runs less in 2018 than they did the previous season.
Understandably, it might be difficult to match their World Championship run, a season in which the Astros outscored the second highest scoring team by more than 70 runs. But, Houston won over 100 games for the second consecutive year, and only the juggernaut out of Boston could stop them from back-to-back Fall Classic appearances.
2019 Fantasy Pitchers Projections – The Best of the Houston Pitching Staff
The fantasy prospects out of Houston are really simple to describe. We do not have a problem in Houston, to reverse an old adage. Astro pitchers posted the best ERA in baseball, led the majors in strikeouts, and finished fourth best in walks allowed.
They had the best WHIP as well. These are the primary credentials for being tagged as fantasy pitcher loaded. One important factor to consider is the loss of Charlie Morton and no contract for Dallas Keuchel. If Keuchel signs in Houston, the 2015 Cy Young winner instantly becomes a top-tier fantasy pitcher. Until then, it's a waiting game.
Josh James is too young and unproven to be anything above a dynasty flier. Wade Miley is penciled in the number four slot in the rotation, but he hasn't even won that job as of yet. The top three are inked heading into Cactus League play.
Colin McHugh was tough on hitters in 2018, but he didn't start a single game for the Astros. Time will tell if he can readjust back to the starting rotation after a successful year in the bullpen. One nice aspect of McHugh is that he will have both RP and SP eligibility.
Justin Verlander SP – Leaving the discussion about unsigned free agents, relievers returning as starters, and young prospects, we hit the number one name in Houston. With Justin Verlander, there is not a problem in Houston.
Verlander will begin his 13th full season in baseball. He has had an ERA over 4.00 only twice during his stellar run of success. He has started more than 30 games, and won double-digit victories every season except for one injury plague 2015 while still in Detroit.
Odd thing is, even considering all the tremendous success of the past decade, Verlander seemed to turn back the clock in 2018. He fanned nearly 300 hitters, posted the second best ERA of his Hall of Fame caliber career, and cut his average walk per nine inning rate in half. Needless to say, Verlander is one of the top-five must-own pitchers in fantasy baseball.
Gerrit Cole SP – Well, when you pitch for the same team as Justin Verlander, it's understandable if you're not considered the ace of the staff. That is where Gerrit Cole falls. However, his numbers are fantasy ace material without any debate.
Cole will push 200 innings, plus he fans over a batter per inning. His 2018 ERA was rivaled only by Verlander's for best on the Houston staff. Both finished in the top-10 in baseball. Cole finished seventh in hits per nine innings and walks per nine innings. His 12.4 K/9 ratio was the best in the Major Leagues. He is equally as worthy of fantasy ace as his Astros teammate.
2019 Fantasy Hitter Projections – The Best Bats on the Astros
When you're one of the most productive offensive teams in baseball, your lineup is going to be full of fantasy viable players. That is the case with Houston's batting order from top to bottom. The only possible weakness is at the catcher position, partly due to a rotation system in previous seasons.
The top four hitters in the Astros regular batting order are must-owns, each a potential first-round draft pick. Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White don't carry the same appeal, but their stock is raised in dynasty formats.
Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick wouldn't be as useful playing for other teams, but they do warrant consideration as bench outfielders. The appeal of the Astros is in their top four hitters, all MVP caliber players who are the spark that ignites the Astros lineup.
José Altuve 2B – Altuve finished fourth in the American League in batting, but his home run power lost some of its luster in 2018. He dropped nearly a dozen of the 24 long balls he hit in back-to-back seasons. RBI totals were down as well, partly due to fewer games due to a nagging injury.
In spite of a slight drop in productivity, Altuve is still one of the three most coveted second basemen on the fantasy draft board. There is some sense, that even as a consistent every day fantasy stud, he could be in line for what would amount to a bounce-back campaign.
Alex Bergman 3B – Bergman suddenly found a power stroke in 2018. He launched 31 home runs for the Astros, drove in over 100 runs, and saw his walk rate improve dramatically. Hitting second in one of the best lineups in baseball makes Bergman a top-five ranked fantasy third baseman.
In many formats he also earns dual-position eligibility at shortstop. Bergman is a must-own that because of other big-name third basemen could slip to the second-round, but not because of a lack of potential production.
George Springer OF – Springer hits leadoff, and like the Indians Francisco Lindor, he brings a little pop to the top spot in the order. Springer has hit over 20 home runs now for three consecutive seasons, including a high-water mark of 34 in 2017.
While it might be too much to expect 30-plus long balls out of Springer, fantasy owners can expect runs, and a lot of runs. He has topped 100 runs scored now three straight years.
Springer doesn't steal a ton of bases, and strikes slight more often than the average leadoff man, but he makes up for these minor deficiencies with excellent peripherals.
Carlos Correra SS – While Altuve's 2018 numbers declined enough to have a rebirth in 2019 considered a bounce-back season, Correra's numbers would warrant even more of that type of talk.
After a stellar championship season 2017, Correra's stats stopped what had been a steady climb in productivity. Just like his middle infield partner Altuve, his home runs and RBIs dropped dramatically.
He struck out more, and for the second year in a row, barely made any impact on the base paths. Correra is too talented not to resume his place as top-tier fantasy shortstop, if he can avoid those little nagging injuries. Fantasy owners also cannot forget he is a shortstop that hits cleanup in one of the best lineups in baseball.
Fantasy Rank Houston Astros
When you have the best statistical pitching staff in baseball, even if you did lose one of your better arms, your whole rotation is fantasy worthy. In addition, when you have consistently been in the top 10 in fantasy relevant offensive categories, every bat in your lineup will be worthy of fantasy draft consideration. That is the nuts and bolts of the Houston Astros for fantasy ranking purposes. Every, everyday player is on the board.
The Bottom Line for the Houston Astros
To restate that old space adage, the only problem Houston had in 2018 was another juggernaut called the Boston Red Sox. If not for the BoSox historic run at excellence, Houston may have made their second consecutive appearance in the Fall Classic.
The Oakland A's are young, and they are equally as talented as Houston, so Astros fans shouldn't expect a cakewalk to the AL West crown as in the past couple of seasons. However, Houston is a well-seasoned, veteran team with incredible talent, which will be in the playoff hunt as we wind through the dog days of summer.