As you all have, I’ve watched a lot of baseball in my life and I know something for sure: You won’t find many ballplayers like Carlos Correa. I’d dare to say that not even in the Astros there’s another guy like him. Taking a look back, I can recall maybe Jason Varitek with the Red Sox, Derek Jeter with the Yankees, and not many more than those.
Besides everything that can be measured or included in a box score, Carlos Correa is a LEADER, an old-school one. He’s the guy you need to build your team around. Despite being only 26 —an odd age to be a leader—, the Puerto Rican shortstop hasn’t stop impressing everybody.
For me, it actually began before last season, when the sign-stealing scandal stained the team.
During an off-field interview with Ken Rosenthal, Correa proved to be the team’s voice. Not only he backed up teammate José Altuve, but the whole squad by saying the Astros didn’t steal the 2017 World Series trophy from the Dodgers, recalling game by game. In case you missed that conversation, here it is...
Then it kept going with the postseason he had in 2020. And this is when I want to open a parenthesis...
I know Correa’s had struggles with his health and also his 2020 regular season wasn’t impressive. But something tells me he hasn’t reached his prime yet. I seriously expect Carlos to have a few 30-homer, 100-RBI campaigns and he has plenty of time to do that. Besides, at his age, he’s 15th among the all-time Astros’ leaders in bWAR (26.3).
Correa’s postseason performance was an out-of-this-world one. In 13 games, he racked up 17 hits in 47 at-bats, with one double and SIX home runs. The shortstop compiled 17 runs batted in, eight walks, and a .362/.455/.766 slash line from the Wild Card Series to the Championship Series.
His torrid offensive in October included this magical moment for the Astros to force Game 6 of the ALCS — against Rays’ closer Nick Anderson:
But it doesn’t stop there. What I call a game-changing conversation took place on the mound during Game 6 of that series against the Rays. Framber Valdez was throwing a good game for the Astros, but he got himself into a jam at the bottom of the sixth inning: with one out, the lefty gave up a single to Hunter Renfroe and walked Yandy Díaz.
What came next was a meeting on the mound. Again, Correa stepped up. He went up there and motivated Valdez. By reading his lips —Correa was speaking in Spanish—, I can see he began saying: “Hey, hey, hey, listen to me, listen to me...,” and I can’t see clearly what followed to that, but whatever it was, it got Valdez ramped up.
The young Dominican left-hander got Brandon Lowe to hit for a ground-ball double play that ended the inning. Those are intangible things that give you an edge in the game. Believe it or not. You need to add that to Correa’s value. You need to have a guy like that on the field.
Correa will enter his walk year in ‘21. And after the Astros did not seriously push for George Springer’s sweepstakes, it’s mandatory for them to retain their de facto captain and commit to him for the long term.