As you know, TCB is the best community for the debates, so let’s line up some topics!
Topic 1 - The greatest thing Luhnow has done.
This is a tough topic as there are simply so many choices. I think his “invention” of the “tanking” rebuild, his analytical approach, hiring of Strom, etc - are all great but let’s focus on some of the players.
Rule 5/Waiver Selections/Acquisitions: Marwin, McHugh, Harris
Free Agent signings: Brantley, Reddick, Rondon Chirinos
Trades: Verlander, Cole, Osuna, Pressly,
Draft magic: Correa/McCullers, Aiken -> Bregman
Obviously there’s a tons of choices, but what do you think was his greatest move since the start of his tenure?
Topic 2 - The Astros outfield is currently locked in for 2-years with Brantley and Reddick having till the end of 2020 on their contracts, and Springer not being FA eligible until after the 2020 season. This causes a blockage but also a big gap to potentially fill. How would you address it? Would you use Tucker as trade bait?
With top prospect Tucker heating up, and “sorta” outfielder Alvarez demolishing the minors like it’s an old-school video game, we have an interesting dilemma. Do we trade someone like Tucker? He could be traded for a cost-controlled starter to off-set the need for a high priced acquisition to slot in behind Verlander.
Alvarez is probably more suited to 1B/DH based on scouting reports, but the Astros have not seemed to have buy into this as of yet. Oddly enough, the Astros had Reddick taking reps at 1B - which baffles me a bit based on his defense.
Obviously, there is the potential of moving players outside of their natural positions to eliminate the gap as well. But it’d be interesting to look at from a macro perspective of the next few years.
Topic 3 - Luck-driven Starts or something you believe will continue?
Chirinos is currently crushing the baseball, with a .267/.387/.535 line - good for a 151 wRC+ and 1.2 WAR so far this season. He’s also still scored positive marks for the first time since his first “full” season in 2014.
On the other side, Chirinos appears to have been quite fortunate. His BABIP (.321) is 40 points above his career average. His xwOBA (.277) is .106 points below his wOBA right now (.383), which is the second largest differential in all of baseball. Currently holding the lowest expected Batting Average of all batters.
After 8 starts, Wade Miley has been an excellent acquisition. His 3-2 record with a sparking 3.18 ERA probably exceeds almost everyone’s expectations to begin the season.
The advanced analytics have not been as kind having a 4.31 FIP / 4.43 xFIP / 4.62 SIERA. He has had some good luck in regards to LOB %, but his xwOBA (.271) is actually slightly below his current wOBA (.284).
Josh James was hit hard when the year started. His 6.11 ERA had people calling for his head - as they wondered if he had lost the magic he brought last year.
The advanced stats tell a significantly different story. His 34.6 K% (13.75 K/9) are both actually up from last year. His xFIP comes in at 4.33 SIERA at a 3.66, both potentially indicating a large regression back to his former glory. His numbers largely driven by a low LOB % (65.4%), a high HR/FB % (22%) and his wOBA (.335) is .063 higher than his xwOBA (.272). The only concerning item that really sticks out to me is the large jump in walk rate.