Game 7. Score: 4-4. Two outs, runner on second, bottom of the ninth inning. Who’s the best guy to win the game?
The Astros have a lot of firepower. Let me suggest a few options.
George Springer: .292/.383/.591 (BA/OBP/SLG)
Michael Brantley: .311/.372/.503
OK, maybe not Jake.
The Starting Nine is going to throw in on this, and then we want to hear what you think.
This is why the Astros are awesome. The Astros have four of the top 16 hitters in the AL rated by batting average. Five if you count Alvarez. And five of the top twenty in wRC+, also including Alvarez.
With everything on the line, and I just need a hit, I’m going with Brantley, Mr Smooth. He’s as cool a cookie as there is, and he’s the most expert at making contact. His swing is like a machine, and he can hit any pitch anywhere in the strike zone, all in a days work. Mr. Pitcher, you can run, but you cannot hide.
Yeah, Uncle Mike.
Without a doubt, I’m going with Alex Bregman. You want your best hitter up in that spot no matter what, and that has far and away been Bregman in 2019. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s built up a reputation for delivering in high-leverage situations, including a situation pretty close to the one we’re talking about.
Wow, there isn’t a clear answer here, right? After all, the Astros had seven hitters during the regular season with a wRC+ higher than 100, which represents league average, in high leverage situations. Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman led the squad with a 184 and 183 wRC+ in those situations, respectively. Those two fellows would be the obvious choices here. However, I would like to add that George Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, had a 178 wRC+ in high leverage situations this season. And there is a feeling in the pit of my stomach that Springer would deliver again, so he is the one I am giving the edge to in this situation.
Ah the age old question. With a team like this, it’s not as clear cut as for many others. I thought about it from a stats perspective, and Michael Brantley comes in light years ahead of everyone in Fangraph’s Clutch stat for the season. With one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league that makes sense, but I’m not sure I can put my money behind Brantley.
I think that Bregman is the “right” choice, with the a penchant for building up and performing in those huge moments and has rightfully claimed the throne as the best hitter on the Astros this year.
With all that said, in my heart, I’m going with Jose Altuve. I’ve never seen a player exude joy the way he does, and even in the past two years where he’s been hampered by knee injuries, he has continued to perform at an elite level. I think back to the moment last year where he turned it up to another gear and ran the fastest sprint speed down the line to first base despite HAVING A BROKEN KNEE CAP!! With a runner on second, all I need is a base hit and no one does that better than Jose Altuve.
Maybe I’m not setting my bar high enough, but with 2 outs and everything on the line, the main thing I want is for the plate appearance to not end in an out. To that end, Alex Bregman has consistently been the toughest out in the Astros lineup.
Exile in Saint Louis
So much love for Bregman, but I’m going with Springer. He’s been clutch on the biggest stage. Bregman only hit .208 in the 2017 playoffs, and while he single-handedly destroyed the Indians in 2018 ALDS, he only went 2 for 15 in the ALCS against Boston. Springer, meanwhile, hit .400 in last year’s playoffs and slugged .829. Nice encore to WS MVP.
I’m surprised nobody went with Yordan Alvarez yet, so I’ll make the case. He’s a lefty power stick, and though I may only need a base hit, I don’t know who’s standing on second. So I want someone at the plate likely to make hard contact, and that’s what Yordan does. He has a team-leading 51.1% Hard-hit rate, which is Top 10 in MLB and six percent higher than Springer, who’s second on the Astros.
Yordan also has the greatest percentage of plate appearances ending with an extra-base hit (14.1%) on the club. The next-closest regular is Yuli Gurriel (11.9%). Did I also mention Yordan is a lefty? Because that’s an important factor if the game is at Minute Maid Park. A hit to rightfield is assuredly preferred at the Juice Box, given an opposing leftfielder’s closer proximity to home plate and shorter subsequent throw on a runner attempting to score. Springer, Bregman, and Altuve have a pull-percentage of 40%, 45%, and 50%, respectively. Yordan goes the other way 24% of the time, still a relatively high mark but a far lower likelihood of going to the left side than any Astros’ righthanded batter, outside of Myles Straw.
On top of all that, Yordan is an imposing 6-foot-5, 225-pound behemoth inside the box and has fairly similar splits against rightys and lefties—essentially rendering him matchup-proof. Did you see Juan Soto come through against Josh Hader in the NL Wild Card Game Tuesday night? Imagine Yordan in a similar spot and all the feels that come with it.
Who should bat for the Astros with the game on the line?
This poll is closed