I hope someday to see Carlos Beltran as a Major League manager. One cannot help but think that his presence and mentoring have been important factors in the astounding success of the Astros and so many of its hitters.
And successful they are, exceeding even high expectations. Two players, Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez, have exceeded their previous career highs in home runs before the All Star break. George Springer and Carlos Correa are just a few homers away. According to Fangraphs, 7/8, there are seven Astros hitting above their career average WRC+ and six who are hitting better than their career highs. Five of these are dramatically so, anywhere between 17-51 points higher than their previous highs. (See chart below) Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel are not included in this comparison as they are essentially rookies. Only the 33 year old Brian McCann, the 35 year old Nori Aoki, and 40 year old Carlos Beltran are hitting below their career averages.
|Player||2017 WRC+||Career Avg||Career High||2017 Minus Career High|
Why are so many of these key players having career years at the same time? Consider the following possibilities.
1. Coincidence 2. This is a team of destiny. 3. Good team chemistry 4. These players are hot but will regress. 5. Many of these players are hitting the prime of their careers. 6. The strength of the entire line up 1 through 9 is mutually reinforcing. It's hard on pitchers to get through this line up and therefore it's easier on each hitter. 7. The influence and mentoring of Carlos Beltran
There is no scientific way to evaluate or prioritize these possibilities. But in my opinion, though reasons one through six are important, they aren't enough to fully explain this degree of over-achieving. I think it's safe to say no one predicted that Marwin Gonzalez would spend the first half of 2017 at or near a 1000 OPS. Or that Jake Marisnick would have a home run for every 13 at bats. Not even the most optimistic talent evaluators expected the prospect George Springer to be a 300 hitter, or to hit 50 home runs, which he might do at this pace. In my unscientific opinion it is Carlos Beltran and his wisdom which is the invisible hand, the missing ingredient, the lost chord, that is helping it all come together just so. A great manager he would be.