CHICAGO, IL - JULY 1: Catcher Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros (L) talks with pitcher Wandy Rodriguez #51 during the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs on July 1, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Things are rough right now for Houston, but at least we have some stuff to talk about....
1) Luhnow chats in OKC - Some interesting things to take out of this chat with Jeff Luhnow over at NewsOK.
First, he's ready for Brett Wallace to come up and stay up. That means we shouldn't expect to see him before he's got a shot as an everyday player at either first or third. Third, you say? Does that mean CJ would have to be traded first? I'm guessing so, though there may be a chance CJ moves over to first if a deal for Carlos ever gets done.
He discusses Mike Hessman, and is much less optimistic for what he's doing. He does indicate Hessman may see time in Houston, but doesn't sound like he'll have a big role. Think of Hessman like other Triple-A callups in previous years like Alan Zinter or Todd Self. It's a great story, but probably won't end with him becoming a regular player.
Most surprisingly, he calls out Jimmy Paredes as the guy who may be the next callup. Paredes, obviously, won't be playing second in the majors. I wonder if they're considering bringing him up to play center field and doing something with Jordan Schafer.
2) Ichiro! - This is non-Astros related, but I've always been fascinated with Ichiro, even as he hasn't played for Houston ever. He's such a throwback player in how he plays and has always just resonated with me.
In this excellent article over at Beyond The Box Score, Glenn DuPaul tries to answer a question that David Schoenfeld brings up about whether Ichiro could have passed Pete Rose if he played his whole career in America.
It's a fascinating look at projections and player comparables. The difference between 130 and 162 games turns out to be not as big as Schoenfeld may have thought, but it still would have put Ichrio in range of Rose by now.
What's crazy is he drops a line line this:
Ty Cobb was the only hitter to have a higher hit total than that 1548 number. Granted, I think Cobb is a fairly solid comp for Ichiro, the number still feels too high.
You know you're a good player when Ty Freakin' Cobb is a "fairly solid comp."
Ichiro will be a fascinating case, too, when it comes time for Hall of Fame consideration. His impressive run of All-Star selections and at least a shot at 3,000 hits in MLB mean he's probably a lock. I know that if I had a vote, he'd get it.
3) Thinking about Altuve - So, after reading all about Ichiro's comparables and projecting out his early career, it made me think some more about Houston's young second baseman.
What I'm about to do is extremely dangerous and probably ill-advised. I'm going to make assumptions about a 10 to 15 year career based on two half-seasons. It's not the greatest methodology, but it's a rabbit hole I went down last night, so I'm going to share it with you.
Right now, Jose Altuve is on pace for 184 hits by the updated projections over at FanGraphs. If that's the case, he'd post the 13th highest hit total in team history. As a 22-year old.
Only one Astro did that younger than Altuve, and that was Greg Gross. His is an interesting story, but he's not really a great comparable for Altuve, so I'm not worried about the fact that he never posted another season anywhere close to that year.
So, if we don't have any Houston comparables his age, let's look at other major leaguers who posted batting averages of .300 or better and at least 185 hits at 22 or younger. It's a pretty distinct list of players who are either stars now or were stars in the past. Almost every player on the list also got to 2,000 hits or more.
In short, it's elite company for Houston's All-Star second baseman. If he gets there.
If he finishes the season like this, we may be looking at just the third player in team history to get to 2,000 hits, assuming he stays in Houston long enough.