clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

March Madness: Top 8 Day 2

New, 11 comments

Jose Altuve vs Nolan Ryan

Jose Altuve

.315/.364/.463 with 128 HR, 538 RBI, and 254 SB for 36.7 WAR

1x MVP (4 other top 15 finishes), 6 All-Star Selections, 1 Gold Glove, 3 Batting Titles

Until this off-season, there was really not a single negative thing people could say about Jose Altuve. A too-short to make the team, cut multiple times, signing a $10,000 contract to becoming an MVP and World Series Champion is basically a story made for a movie. Altuve oozes charisma and you can see the fun he has playing the game. It’s invigorating to watch him as it’s not just his excellent results that make him such a beloved player. But the stats are there as well. GoStros actually made the comparison to Pete Rose and he’s ahead of him on the hit count in less PA, but would have a long road ahead of him. Over the past 9 years, Altuve has become the undeniable face of the Astros, and for a while a face of the MLB. Unlike the legends of old like Bagwell or Biggio, Altuve has continued to produce at an All-Star level in the play offs with a .290/.345/.527 triple slash across his play off career.

Nolan Ryan

106-94, 3.13 ERA, 1,854 IP, 1,866 K (9.1 K/9)

2 All-Star Selections, 3 Top 10 Cy Young Finishes

Nolan Ryan is the all-time strikeout leader, and that’s still an understatement. The next 2 closest players (Johnson/Clemens are nearly 1,000 strike-outs behind him), Justin Verlander is the closest active player - and he would need 2,714 more (he has 3,006 to date) - that’s the level of absurdity we’re talking about. But in fairness, only 9 years of his 27 year playing career were with the Astros (the most of any team with his career).

Ryan is still a beloved icon in his own right with the Astros, but he claimed that achieving his major milestones in a Rangers uniform was a deciding factor for him (many speculated it was due to the relationship that soured with Astros leadership, and at the time there was a lot of speculation of players having their caps being paid for by teams - and the policy of player selection has changed since Ryan’s day due to that fact).

From a playoff perspective, Ryan started 6 games with the Astros pitching 42.1 IP with a 3.61 ERA with over a 9.5 K/9, unfortunately the Astros ended up going 2-4 in those games.

Ryan continues to be involved in baseball with ownership interest in a minor league team and until recently a Special Advisor to the GM for the Astros.

Poll

Which Astros legend do you choose?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Jose Altuve
    (106 votes)
  • 19%
    Nolan Ryan
    (25 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now

Billy Wagner vs Alex Bregman

For the second straight round Bregman comes into a match up with another player who may match his ego, and his skillset.

BBN-HOUSTON-BRAVES 5 Photo credit should read STEVE SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

Billy Wagner

26-29, 2.53 ERA, 225 SV, 504.1 IP, 12.4 K/9, 171 ERA+ for 16.1 WAR

3x All-Star, 2 Top 25 MVP finishes, 4th place Cy Young finish

Wagner is another great underdog story. (cool read if you’ve never read it) Undervalued since he was just 5’10 and growing up in a poor broken home - Wagner just channeled all of his anger into throwing hard. Amazingly, the natural righty learned to throw left handed due to fracturing his right arm at a young age.

From a rate stat perspective, Wagner is one of the greatest of all time with the highest K/9 and lowest batting average against of any pitcher to throw 800+ IP.

Wagner went on to earn 422 saves for his career, which ranks 6th All-Time, the second most ever by a lefty (Franco edged him with 424). During his tenure with the Astros, his 2.53 ERA ranks as the third best ERA in baseball of all players pitching 300+ innings. And his K/9 was the absolute best in baseball. He was simply that dominant.

During the post-season, Wagner had very limited exposure going 4.2 IP total with a 9.64 ERA.

Alex Bregman

.286/.384/.527 with 99 HR, 320 RBI, and 34 SB for 22.4 WAR

2 All-Star Selections, 2 top 5 MVP selections

Interestingly, Bregman is essentially the anthesis of Jose Altuve. Both players are known to be some of the hardest workers in the game, but what drives them seems to be different. Bregman was jokingly known as the Arrogant one on this board, and as his skillset expanded, so did the rest of MLB’s acknowledgement of that fact. He has no problem in talking smack, representing the team to the media or with other players, and backing it up. Bregman seems to thrive under pressure, but his overall results in the playoffs have been a bit more timid than anticipated at .231/.358/.469.

Last year, Bregman ended up finishing second in the MVP race to Mike Trout, and had a top 5 finish the year before - which will hopefully continue to be a trend. Interestingly, the biggest knock on Wagner is generally his lack of counting stats which makes Bregman an interesting match up to me. Bregman’s first two years are nothing to be scoffed at, but it truly looks like Bregman is just ramping up with 3 straight years of improvement to his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, finishing with an OPS over 1.000 last year.... Bregman was mocked for saying he wanted a Bonds-esque 1.4 OPS - but with the way he’s trending? Who knows.

Off the field, Bregman seems like a player you either love or hate, but no one can deny him as one of the biggest stars in the game at this point, and at just 25 and having just signed an extension that keeps him here until 2024, Bregman has a long time to etch his name into the record books of the Astros. Plus, who doesn’t love the dug out stare?!

Poll

Battle of the undersized egos

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Billy Wagner
    (63 votes)
  • 49%
    Alex Bregman
    (61 votes)
124 votes total Vote Now