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Starting Nine: Is Astros' SS Carlos Correa Meeting Expectations?

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The Crawfish Boxes writers discuss their 2016 expectations for Correa and if he has met them so far.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Correa exceeded expectations in 2015, posting a .279/.345/.512 slash line while mashing 22 HRs in only 99 games. While his defense wasn't always spotless, he still provided some highlight reel material with the glove. He accomplished most of this as a 20 year-old, turning 21 on September 22, 2015.

His 2016 numbers haven't been quite as gaudy (.256/.351/.423), but they are good enough for a 113 wRC+. Should we be expecting more from Captain Correa who hits in the 3-hole in the Astros' lineup? Or is it too much to expect more than a 113 wRC+ from a 21 year-old who plays one of the most demanding positions?

With that, we turn to the writers of the Crawfish Boxes for this week's Starting Nine question:

What were your 2016 expectations for Carlos Correa before the season started, and would you change them at this point?

Brian Stevenson

I have to admit, they were high. Before the season started some people, like the broadcasters on TV, were talking about competing for the MVP award. I didn't buy into that, but I was expecting more of the same. In other words, 125-130 wRC+, 30 homers, 20 steals, solid defense.

For any other kid his age, those would be heavy expectations; for another shortstop, almost insane. But he's Carlos Correa. I felt like it was fairly reasonable at the time. That's just how much I believe in him, his talent, his fortitude, his work ethic. I won't say I don't believe in those things anymore...but I will admit to being slightly disappointed, while in full awareness that being disappointed in getting a 113 wRC+ from your 21-year-old shortstop is a "first-world problem" of the highest order.

I think my expectations, and even some of the wilder ones others had, are proving to be premature. But that doesn't mean they won't be realistic in the future, maybe the near future.

Jason Marbach

I believe that Carlos is going to be one of the five best players in the sport fairly soon, and stay that way into his thirties.  I just don't expect that in his sophomore season.  There was a reason I picked George Springer as my team MVP pick on January 1st, and it was only partly because of how well I thought George was going to play.  The other part was that I truly expected a bit of a sophomore slump from Correa.

Don't get me wrong, he's been very good.  A 21 year old shortstop posting a wRC+ between 115-120 is great.  His defense hasn't been great since he was called up, but it's been better lately - certainly adequate for a 21 year old in his first full major league season.

But it seems many were expecting him to compete for League MVP, and that's far beyond anything I was expecting.  I'd like to see a little more power from him, but in the main I've been pretty pleased.

clack

I probably expected somewhat better offensive stats, particularly in the HR department, than he has shown thus far, but it's still possible to achieve a .800 OPS season with 15 -€” 20 HRs with a nice long hot streak at some point in the future.  Although that is around what I expected, I was also somewhat apprehensive that he could have a downturn in his second season, as ML pitchers adjusted to him. I think there were over-the-top expectations for Correa, particularly in some of the national media, which may have led some Astros' fans to be more disappointed in his current performance than they should be.  I never liked it when people were already putting him in the Hall of Fame.  I cringed during the second game of the year when Pedro Martinez tweeted "Carlos Correa is better than a young Alex Rodriguez."  If you look at the pre-season projections, he is closer to his projections than you might have thought—in fact, close enough that he could close out the year at those marks with a good second half.  Steamer had a .805 OPS for him,  and he is at .774.  Yes, lower than projected, but certainly not a crash.

Just looking at the original projections, Correa has a  higher walk rate and higher OBP than projected, but a lower batting average and lower power than projected.  The lower power is noticeable, but is also the kind of thing which can come in spurts.  But it's not unusual for young star players to have something other than a straight line year-to-year improvement.   Bryce Harper "fell" to a 115 wRC+ (close to Correa's 113) in his third year.  As others have said, I think Correa's future remains bright.  But, let's hold off on premature accolades about a future Hall of Fame induction.

CRPerry13

I expected a higher batting average and lower strikeout rate, but his home run count isn't far off from what I projected. Correa's .233 ISO last season looks like an outlier when compared to his minor league stats - and major league ISO's are supposed to go down, not up, when a player reaches the majors. That said, Correa at age 21 still has some physical maturity ahead of him, so there was always the hope that last year's power surge was sustainable.

I had expected a batting line of .280/.350/.430, and aside from the batting average, that's pretty close to what he's actually doing. Unfortunately, it's bothersome that his strikeout rate has jumped from 18% to 25%...I didn't expect that. Hopefully with some adjustments, he can get that under control.

There is no reason to be concerned about Correa at this point. In a disappointing age 21 season, he is still one of the best shortstops in the majors. Looking forward to good things to come.

Dave Spradley

Like others have said here, I expected a sophomore slump from Correa this year so he hasn't been performing too much below my expectations. Even a below average Correa is better than most other shortstops in the league so even though Carlos isn't carrying the team on his back right now it's hard to complain about his production.

Like Jason said I think he's going to end up being one of the top 5 players in the league pretty soon. He's not Mike Trout or Bryce Harper but he plays a more demanding position. I fully expect Correa to be a 6-WAR guy fairly soon.

Anthony Boyer

I just expected him to go out there, have some fun, play some baseball, and maybe go for pizza and ice cream after the game if he did really well.

So far, I think he's doing most of those things.

To get a little more specific, I'm interested in the people who thought he'd have more power; I say that because last year looked like a real aberration where Correa's power was concerned. He had 29 home runs in about 1,200 minor league plate appearances, and he turned around and had 22 in 430 plate appearances in 2015. Sure, he's growing into his power, and we can expect some more of it moving forward, but 2015 was the surprise season for me, not this year. This is more on the line of what I'd have expected.

Correa's OBP is actually up from last year, thanks in part to a increased walk rate. His strikeouts have also climbed as the league has adjusted to him, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect both of those numbers - walks and strikeouts - to go down as he adjusts back to the league. He's maybe a little off-pace of where I would have liked to have seen him, but overall I'm happy with his contributions, and I expect him to continue to grow.

clack

Anthony, my expectations for more power were based on the projections.  ZIPS projected 25 HRs and a .499 SLG.  Steamer projected 22 HRs and a .462 SLG.