Friday, March 8, 2019


By Michael Wong

West Palm Beach, Fla.--The Houston Astros are back as one of the favorites to win the 2019 World Series and this has been the status they have held for the last three spring trainings which of course included a championship.  While the Astros fell short in attempting to defend their title last season in losing to the Boston Red Sox, they are primed for another prime season but with a bit of an understanding that the window is already closing.  With free agency set to hit a number of key players, the Astros are all-in to win.  So with that said, let's check in on some of the pertient fantasy baseball issues surrounding the team this spring.

1.  Someone should really try to figure out how ace starter Justin Verlander found the Fountain of Youth as that is the only way to explain how the future first ballot Hall of Famer had his BEST season ever in 2018 at the age of 36.  In logging a 2.52 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with 290 strikeouts, Verlander put forth the best K rate of his career and also posted a personal-best sub-2.00 BB/9.  The feat is even more amazing when you consider the massive amount of mileage on Verlander's arm but he seems to be one of those rare rubber-armed pitchers who never get old or feel fatigue.  While you can choose to worry about age, we won't as Verlander should continue to be graded as a top five SP.

2.  Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is a bit of a strange statistical case on a number of fronts, with the first being that he suddenly decided to stop running starting in 2017 when he was just 22.  Then there have been the injuries which have resulted in long DL stints each of the last two seasons which have further earned Correa scorn.  As a result of all this, Correa saw his stock drop for 2019 fantasy baseball as he no longer can be considered a five-tool guy and now the injury threat needs to be factored into cost.  Be that as it may, Correa is still a few seasons away from his prime and 30 home runs and 90 RBI is very much in play if he can stay healthy.

3.  If you want a deep sleeper to target this spring, try 1B/DH Tyler White who has a long history of hitting the ball hard in the minors and who may have finally started to figure out MLB pitching at the age of 27 in 2018.  Having hit 12 home runs in just 210 at-bats last season, White has shown his .311 career minor league average is no fluke and so 25 homers could be in the offing as the team's everyday DH and semi-first baseman.

4.  While it may be just talk, outfielder George Springer has said he wants to steal more bases this season and that would be welcome since that part of his game has completely fallen by the wayside despite being a major force there in the minors.  Even without the steals being part of the picture though, Springer has proven to be a force with 29, 34, and 22 homers the last three seasons to go with over 100 runs scored in each campaign.  Still, there are warts as Springer has put up mostly mediocre batting averages and his positioning in the leadoff spot has hurt the RBI chances.  If Springer does decide to start running again though as he has so far in spring training, then we are looking at an even more potent OF 1.

5.  Since his arrival to the majors, it seemed only a matter of time before SS/3B Alex Bregman turned into a star and that has taken place already in short order.  Showcasing a monster power bat to go with the ability to pick up some steals, Bregman is a true five-category phenom who is worth a late first-round pick in drafts this spring.  Even better, the guy is pretty entertaining on social media as am added bonus.

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