Once upon a time, the Angels infield was to be one of the best in baseball. It was loaded with top prospects, talent and oozed future potential. That 2007 Angels infield was hyped like the 2015 Cubs infield will be.
Howie Kendrick would be a future batting champ. Brandon Wood had more pure power than anyone in the game. Dalals McPherson could give the Angels more pop on the corner. Erick Aybar brought the best of everything as a defensive shortstop who could hit.
They were loaded, but only Kendrick made an immediate impression on the team. Wood and McPherson washed out while Aybar bounced in and out of the lineup, splitting time with Kendrick at second while Orlando Cabrear held down shortstop in 2007 and Maicer Izturis in 2008.
Aybar didn't really win the shortstop job in Anaheim until 2009, four years after his MLB debut.
Since then, Aybar has posted wRC+ of 107, 107, 91 and 101 while playing good defense. He doesn't provide much power and he doesn't steal many bases, but he can hit at a league-average rate and hold down the most taxing defensive position on the field with positive results.
That's led to him posting three or four seasons of at least 3 WAR, depending on which method you use.
Why is this relevant? Well, in thinking about Houston's defense of the future, Jonathan Villar doesn't fit. He's not a perfect prospect. He has very defined flaws and makes too many bonehead plays at shortstop.
But, like Aybar, Villar broke into baseball at Age 22. Like Aybar, he doesn't have much power, but could steal more bases. He also has the talent to be an above-average defensive shortstop, though that talent can have a difficult transition to routine plays.
Yet, the Angels held their faith in Aybar and it paid off this season. He started in the ALDS for the Angels while posting 3 or 4 WAR and making less than $10 million in the second year of a four-year, $35 million deal.
The Astros will show the same patience with Villar. Even if Carlos Correa takes over shortstop eventually, Villar is valuable. He's young and he has talent. Until he gets expensive, he'll get a chance to hit and get better defensively, even if he drives you crazy in the process.
(Counterpoint: Villar will probably stick around for two more years. It's likely he develops into a productive major leaguer at some point. But, the presence of Correa suggests he might not play shortstop in Houston. That makes him less valuable and could mean he gets moved eventually, unless Correa gets bumped to third. That complicates this whole scenario a bit, but Aybar does show why Villar got so much rope this season and why he will continue to get it until Correa makes it to the Show.)