Mercifully the 2013 Astros baseball season is over. Mercifully for the fans but for the front office this was an exciting season. Many players unexpectedly stepped up and may have played their way onto this team as a fixtures for years to come. Here's a run down of a few of those.
Jose Altuve was already a fixture on the Astros. But after supporting his first full year with yet another solid performance only prove the Astros management to be correct in their decision to give him a long term contract. Altuve should be the anchor of the middle of the infield for many years. Just to temper the excitement a bit, this is not Craig Biggio and we should not burden Altuve with those kinds of expectations. He is a solid player who should see a couple of All-Star games in his career, but this is not a Hall of Famer in the works. Let's enjoy him for what he is. A solid player up the middle who will get on base and score runs. He should be in the middle of things when this team contends again.
Matt Dominguez is another young player who solidified the hot corner unlike anything we've seen since Ken Caminiti. No, I'm not comparing him to Caminiti, but this is the best third basemen we've had since "Camy". Matt has a great glove and, although the average and strike out numbers were nothing to write home about, there's no denying the power numbers. At the beginning of the season, how many of us would have signed up for 15HR and 60 RBI out of our third basemen?? Most of us would quickly. Well, we got 21 HR and 77 RBI. I think we would all like to see him walk more and strike out less, but this is a nice start to what could be a special career.
Isn't it nice to have a Short Stop that can field and hit?? Jonathon Villar's .243 average didn't come close to Jed Lowrie right?? Wrong. Jed Lowrie, who played very well for the Astros last year hit .244/.331/.438 with an OPS of .769. In 2013 Villar numbers were .243/.321/.387 with an OPS of .640. Not bad. Villar did have a few more errors but a lot of that can be attributed to youth with a lot of room to mature. This is a young man who could help us in more ways that just on the field. A lot of people believe that he is a place holder for Carlos Correa, I am one of them. But Correa is two years away , so it's nice to have a solid short stop who could be a 5th infielder in a couple of years or a trade piece, providing Correa is the real deal, to bring in more help down the road. He's the kind of player ever team loves to have.
Jason Castro has been the catcher we have been waiting for since Brad Ausmus. And the beauty of this is he hits better. Jason made his first All-Star game this year and hit a very respectable .276 with 18 HR. There is little doubt about Jason being the number one catcher on this team now. With Jason coming off an injury the season before, there were some serious concerns and question marks about the catching position. Jason answer them all and silenced his critics. Jason plays well above average defense and threw out 33% of would-be base stealers. He has established himself as one of the better all around catchers in the majors.
These are just a few players that appear to have solidified roster spots going into the 2014 season. There may be others but when you look at the players such as Brett Wallace, JD Martinez and Brandon Barnes, there were some shining moments but nothing that says "every day player" on a contender.