Will the Astros' Carlos Correa Be Baseball's Best Shortstop?
In 2011, the Houston Astros won 56 games. They lost 106. It was the first of three straight 100-plus loss seasons, all part of the team's plan to, for lack of a better word, "tank" a few seasons in order to get high draft picks and reload for the future.
Today, the Astros have called up the kid they drafted first overall in that following year's draft, 20-year-old Carlos Correa, who just might turn out to be the best shortstop in the game in a relatively quick matter of time. So no, I don't think Houston fans mind that 106-loss season at all right now -- do you?
After Sunday's loss to the Blue Jays, the 'Stros are 10 games over .500 at 34-24, with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Clearly, they are a team that believes they can win the division, but they have struggled lately, and shortstop has been a trouble spot for them all season. Three players have played there, but mostly it's been Jonathan Villar (0.0 fWAR) and Marwin Gonzalez (-0.2 fWAR).
But even if Houston was getting decent production out of the shortstop position, the ability and superstar potential of Correa makes him a no-brainer add. Not only that, he's probably already the best shortstop on the team, the division, and heck, maybe even all of the American League.
In his first 133 plate appearances at Double-A this year, Correa hit .385/.459/.726 with 7 home runs, 15 stolen bases and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 228, while posting a walk rate of 11.3% along the way. So they moved him up to Triple-A, where he hit .266/.336/.447 with three homers, 11 RBI, 3 stolen bases and a walk rate of 10.3% in 107 plate appearances.
I mean, just take a look at this swing.
One of the most beautiful things about his approach is how he uses all fields, as indicated by this spray chart below.
Just for fun... Here's the Carlos Correa base hit spray chart since 2013. pic.twitter.com/zboSXOyZFT— Daren Willman (@darenw) June 8, 2015
And aside from his hitting ability, he's also an excellent defender, showing good range and a ridiculously strong arm.
Correa was the team's number-one overall pick in 2012 and becomes the team's third draft pick from that year to make it to the Majors this season, joining starter Lance McCullers and outfielder Preston Tucker. He was the number-one prospect in all of baseball according to ESPN.com, the number-two guy according to MLB.com, and a consensus top-five prospect by every leading baseball publication.
Aside from the fact he's still only 20 years old, Houston likely waited until now to bring him up in order to make sure he was clear of Super Two status, which means the Astros will get three full year of pre-arbitration contracts from a guy who will likely be one of the best players in the almost immediately.
I wasn't joking before when I said he might already be the best shortstop in the AL. That says a lot about Correa, but it also says as much about the sorry state of the position in that league.
|Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||54||2||.297||.342||.400||106||1.4|
|Jose Reyes||Blue Jays||27||1||.291||.310||.382||90||0.3|
That is not a high hurdle to leap over.
But where does he stand in fantasy? Certainly, I'd want him over any shortstop in the American League right now. In the National League, aside from Troy Tulowitzki, I'm not sure there's anyone I'd rather have than Correa, given his power potential combined with stolen base ability. If you could choose, would you take Brandon Crawford over Correa? Jhonny Peralta? Both are having very nice seasons, but Correa has the potential to be a superstar.
At the end of the day, it's hard to sum up just how good Correa is, but this comes pretty close.
Carlos Correa is one of the finest all around prospect players I have scouted in a long time. He'll be joining the #Astros tomorrow.— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) June 8, 2015
He's even been compared to the man who, before his PED fall from grace, was the best player in the game.
A-Rod, Correa comparisons abound. http://t.co/oLln1YXZ7f— Brian McTaggart ⚾️ (@brianmctaggart) March 21, 2015
Is Correa the next A-Rod, in terms of talent? We'll see. He has a tough task ahead of him what will likely be his first career start on Monday, against Chicago's Chris Sale.
And perhaps expectations should be tempered. Before the season, ZiPS projected Correa to hit .247/.311/.357 over the course of 431 plate appearances (and of course, he won't get that many), with six homers and 12 stolen bases. And Steamer projects him to hit .249/.302/.378 with four homers and seven stolen bases in 214 plate appearances, which I think is too pessimistic.
But the Astros just got a whole lot better. And even more fun to watch.