With season upon us I shook down our writers for some of their predictions on the season. Before we get to those predictions here's a survey for you to contribute your predictions for the 2012 Houston Astros season. Results will be announced on our podcast and in the podcast post on Tuesday.
EDIT: Because I'm seeing some of these responses in Rookie of the Year, Jason Castro, Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez DO NOT qualify as rookies. Rookie status is lost if a player gets 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 days on the active roster. That also eliminates Jordan Lyles and Jordan Schafer.
The Astros will finish _____ in the division, with a ________ record
Chris: The Astros will finish 5th in the division, with a 70-92 record.
I believe two things: The Astros are better than the media believes, and that all the players are competent. They have a rotation of average to above-average starters plus position players who almost all have the potential to hit .270 with 15-20 HR. I also believe that the Cubs will be terrible. Their best hitter is a no-power 21-year old shortstop, and after him are burned out shells of Alfonso Soriano, Ian Stewart, David DeJesus, Marlon Byrd, and Geovany Soto, along with Quad-A hitters Bryan LaHair and Darwin Barney. Their rotation is a mess; their "ace" is 35 years old and posted a 4.80 ERA last season, and their third best starter is Paul Maholm, who couldn't hack it (ERA 5.10) on a Pirates team that finished 57-105 in 2010. I see no reason to believe that the Cubs are better than the Astros in 2012.
David: The Astros will finish 5th in the division, with a 72-90 record.
It'd still be one of the 12 worst seasons in franchise history, but a bit of progress over what's expected and how the Astros finished last season. I see at least a couple of players making strides this season and being at least league average.
Brooks: The Astros will finish 5th in the division with a 69-93 record. I think the Cubs are going to be the worst team in the division and we'll avoid the second 100 loss season.
Sean: The Astros will finish last in the division, with a 60-102 record.
Clarence: The Astros will finish 5th in the division, with a 70-92 record. The Astros will not be good, but I am guessing that the Cubs will be worse.
Jesse: The Astros will finish 5th in the NL Central, with a 67-95 record.
The record is really tough to guess and though there is still a long road ahead of them it seems like the club has improved over last years product provided that everyone stays healthy. This year's team should be a fun one to watch.
Joshua: The Astros will finish 5th in the division with a 69-96 record.
William: The Astros will finish 6th in the division, with a 70-92 record.
For my choices I expect the Astros to win 70 games this year, a full 14 games more than last year. I’m a bit optimistic, but not too optimistic as I still have them losing the division. But the reason why I think the team will perform better this is year is that I think the pitching staff, both the rotation and bullpen, will be much better and more consistent than it was last year. All of the projected bullpen members have had good springs and that is because their names are not Jeff Fulchino or Enerio del Rosario. I think Brandon Lyon will be better than most people seem to be betting him on, and I think Brett Myers will be able to flourish in the closer’s roll. As for the starting rotation, I feel like they will start the year off the same as last year, but will be enhanced later on in the season when club calls up Paul Clemens who will strike out 9 batters in his major league debut (trust me on this).
The Astros Most Valuable Player will be _________________
Chris: The Astros MVP will be Jed Lowrie.
When healthy, in the upper minor leagues Lowrie showed the ability to Slug .500, meaning that if he reaches ..450 in the majors with the Astros, he could be the best power hitter on the team. Coupled with a healthy walk rate around 9%, he's a guy who has the talent to go 90-20-90 for the Astros...if he stays healthy. That would make him one of the top 10 offensive shortstops in MLB. Lofty projection, but it's possible, even if unlikely.
David: The Astros MVP will be Jed Lowrie. Love the shortstop.
Brooks: The Astros MVP will be JD Martinez or Jed Lowrie.
I think both will hit well for their positions and JD will be the best bat on the team but Lowrie will provide a lot of value defensively just because of his position as well as a good bat. So, toss up there for me. I just can't give El Caballo any credit at all.
Sean: The Astros MVP will be Brian Bogusevic
That's right I said it! I think most people expect J.D Martinez to be the breakout candidate for 2012 or Bud Norris to anchor the staff, but I'm going to go a different route. I think Brian Bogusevic is going to have a coming out party in 2012 and could put up some decent numbers this year. Something in the range of .280,15-20HR, 60-70RBIs.
Clarence: The Astros MVP will be Jed Lowrie. When was the last time that the Astros had a shortstop who can provide above average offense?
Jesse: Most Valuable Player: Jed Lowrie - This is a risky choice considering his injury history, and the fact that he is currently injured, but if healthy hopefully Jed Lowrie could provide average defense with an above average bat at shortstop. He has all the makings to be a good two-hole hitter.
Johsua: The Astros MVP will be Jed Lowrie.
William:The Astros MVP will be J.D. Martinez.
The Astros Rookie of the Year will be __________________
Chris: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Kyle Weiland.
Most of the Astros' "Rookies" debuted last year, so this is a shallow pool. Even if Weiland does not start on the major league roster, I think he will be up and contributing healthily to the rotation at some point. I don't think Weiland will be an all-star, but I believe in his ability to miss bats, which is a skill most Astros pitchers lack.
David: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Paul Clemens.
Brooks: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Kyle Weiland.
I think Weiland will win out the 5th starter job and will stick on the roster all season, therefore just being a starter and pitching a full season will provide a lot of value. I don't see any other prospect really contributing a lot this season.
Sean: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Jose Altuve. Unless Altuve really stumbles to start the year,5th is should be an easy choice for the Astros rookie of the year.
Clarence: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Kyle Weiland. He qualifies as a rookie, and I like his potential, so why not?
Jesse: ROY - Kyle Weiland - Though Weiland profiles more as a back of the rotation type, I think he could probably provide the most value to the Astros out of the current crop of potential rookies. He figures to be in the rotation to start the season and his spring stats coupled with his minor league stats are encouraging signs for the right hander.
Joshua: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Paul Clemens.
William: The Astros Rookie of the Year will be Paul Clemens.
The best position player will be _______________
Chris: The best position player will be Jed Lowrie. See above.
David: The best position will be Jed Lowrie.
Brooks: The best position player will be either JD or Lowrie for same reasons as MVP.
Sean: The best position will be Jason Castro
I think Brian Bogusevic will be the breakout offensive star in 2012, but If I had to pick the best positional player I would have to go with Jason Castro. If healthy Castro could shut down the running game behind the plate and put up respectable offensive numbers.
Clarence: The best position player will be Carlos Lee. ...unless he is traded at mid-season, which I think is unlikely, given that he is unlikely to approve a trade.
Jesse: I am going to take a risk and say that the best overall position player is going to be Jordan Schafer. Provided that he is healthy he should be able to provide above average defense at a premium position, and I think that he has enough upside with his bat to surprise people. Like Jed Lowrie Schafer has also stated that he has not been 100% healthy from his first injury until this offseason. Hopefully he can finally show why people have been so high on him in the past.
Joshua: The best position player will be Jed Lowrie.
William: The best position player will be J.D. Martinez
The best pitcher will be ______________
Chris: The best pitcher will be Bud Norris.
I love me some strikeouts, and Norris showed last year that he has the ability to improve his game. He posted a 4.02 FIP in 2011 with a sustainable .294 BABIP. I think futher improvement with experience is likely, and he could turn in a performance with ERA in the mid-upper 3's and a K/9 that's among the highest in the league.
David: The best pitcher will be Bud Norris. BudChuck's third pitch is his fist.
Brooks: The best pitcher will be Studly Budly! I think Bud will take yet another step forward and begin to use his changeup more consistently making him that much better.
____________ will be the breakout player of the year
Chris: Jason Castro will be the breakout player of the year.
I would never have said this two months ago. But Castro has impressed in Spring Training and has me thinking that the year off will not hurt his hitting ability after all. My "wishful thinking" selection is Jose Altuve. As much as I would love to believe in his new-found plate discipline (6 walks in 37 AB this spring!!!), I need to see him do it in real games. If Altuve's patience is for real, he could turn out to be special in 2012.
David: J.D. Martinez will be the breakout player of the year. No surprise here. I've pegged the sweet-swinging outfielder as a breakout candidate since FanFest and am not about to change now.
Brooks: Jed Lowrie will be the breakout player of the year. Lowrie has too many questions around him to have high expectations and too many think he's an injury risk. I think he'll be healthy and be an above average SS.
Sean: Brett Wallace will be the breakout player of the year.
I might be the one person that still believes in Brett Wallace. I think the Astros tinkered with his swing upon arrival and he hasn't been the same since. Look for Wallace to break out after the trade deadline after Carlos Lee has been unloaded.
Clarence: Jose Altuve will be the the breakout player of the year. I am basing this on Altuve’s recent improvement in patience and walks this spring.
Jesse: JD Martinez will be the breakout player of the year. He has hit at every level, and also been a solid run producer at every level which is something that this team was missing last year outside of Hunter Pence.
Joshua: Jordan Schafer will be the breakout player of the year.
William: J.D. Martinez will be the breakout player of the year
____________ will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out
Chris: Wandy Rodriguez will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out. This is a no-brainer, right?
David: Carlos Lee will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out. If I keep saying it enough times, it will eventually come true...
Brooks: Wandy Rodriguez will be wearing a different uniform by the end of the season.
Wandy will finally get the respect he deserves around the league by GMs and because of the fact we have a GM that knows how to make good trades, other GMs won't low-ball Luhnow the way they did Ed Wade. Does Happ wearing an OkC jersey count for this category as well?
Sean: Wandy Rodriguez will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out.
Clarence: Wandy Rodriguez will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out. I actually would like to see him stick around all season, but I think he will be the most valuable Astros’ trading commodity at mid-season.
Jesse: Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, and Carlos Lee will be wearing a different uniform next year. I really think it is probably a tossup between the three, but since Luhnow has not been afraid to trade so far I am going to say that he will be looking for fits with these guys come the trade deadline.
Joshua: Chris Snyder will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out.
William: J.A. Happ will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out.
I think one player we might not see with the Astros for the whole year is J.A. Happ because I have this gut feeling he will do so poorly he will be sent to the minors or released. Call me crazy, but you will see...
The Astros could make the playoffs if ________________
Chris: The Astros could make the playoff if the Mayan calendar truly does signify the end of the world in 2012 and creates a vortex in the space-time continuum and gives the Astros Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Robinson Cano, and Troy Tulowitzki in an alternate universe where life can continue uninterrupted.
David: The Astros could make the playoff if about a thousand things go right. Lowrie turns into an All-Star. Chris Johnson starts hitting like 2010. J.D. Martinez finds power. Jose Altuve starts walking. Jason Castro taps into his potential. Kyle Weiland turns into a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Wandy pushes back the clock. Bud Norris becomes a top 20 pitcher. No big deal, right?
Brooks: The Astros will make the playoffs if all of our young players put it together. Schafer will have to be a legitimate leadoff man and JD will have to really prove he is a middle of the order bat. Wandy and Bud will really have to become great starters that pitch very deep into games consistently as well.
Sean: The Astros could make the playoff if Hell freezes over? Even then I don't think they Astros have a chance to make the playoffs. Look, this is a team that is rebuilding from the ground up getting ready to transition to the AL in 2013. Things are going to get worse before they get better and the Astros could be looking at 2014 as a year when things start to improve at the MLB level.
Clarence: The Astros could make the playoff if Haley’s Comet shows up 59 years early next season. But it would be fun to see the baseball writing world’s heads collectively explode if it happened.
Jesse: The Astros could make the playoffs if Shawn Marcum, Ryan Braun, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Matt Latos, and Joey Votto miss the season with injury and the Pirates choke. Cubs and Astros then enter battle royale for the Central.
Joshua: The Astros could make the playoffs if they hire Emilio Estevez. Quack.
William: The Astros could make the playoffs if the players in the rotation, on offense, and defense live up to their potential and the bullpen performs well at limiting runs throughout the year.