It’s been weeks without any exciting action in baseball world besides the negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA. But week after week, we try to do our best to bring a new topic for you to enjoy while the offseason keeps its pace. This time, we’ll take a look at important, reachable marks/goals for every Astros’ regular position player in 2022, assuming the regular season starts on time and everything gets back to normal.
From Martín Maldonado to Kyle Tucker, except for Carlos Correa (for obvious reasons), let’s do this…
1. Martín Maldonado’s 1000th career game
This may sound too obvious and meaningless. At the end of the day, there are thousands of players who have made it to 1000 career games. But with Maldonado, it’s kind of odd. When you’re a .212/.290/.348 career hitter and you have almost no power, it’ll probably be tough to have a long career in the big leagues. With 769 starts in 889 total games, Maldonado is one of those exceptions, thanks to his game-changing defense behind the plate. He needs 111 more games to reach the goal.
2. 200th double and 100th homer for Yuli Gurriel
For a man who made his MLB debut at the age of 32, the resume Gurriel has built in the Majors is just impressive. In 2022, his walk year, he will have the chance of getting to round numbers in doubles and home runs. The 37-year-old, who just won the AL batting title, needs 34 doubles and 14 four-baggers to make it to 200 and 100, respectively. Gurriel has been a doubles machine, as he’s the team leader from 2017 to 2021 (159).
3. José Altuve among the all-time greats
Altuve is already an immovable piece of Astros’ history, but there’s more for him. If he has a normal season in 2022, he will surpass César Cedeño (6th, 1512 games) and Terry Puhl (5th, 1516 games) for most career games. Altuve might finish the 2022 regular season as the fifth Astros with most games, behind only Lance Berkman, José Cruz, Jeff Bagwell, and Craig Biggio.
4. Alex Bregman needs to be Alex Bregman
For the Astros’ third baseman, it’s not a matter of numbers but a matter of going back to his old self and staying away from the injured list. For the last two years, Bregman’s power has almost disappeared and turned into a .431 slugging percentage over his last 133 games, a span in which he’s registered 29 doubles and 18 home runs. In other words, Bregman has to be consistent and productive again for Houston.
5. Michael Brantley and his continuous excellence
Brantley has given only quality to the Astros in his three campaigns with the team. Now, in his walk year, we couldn’t expect less from Uncle Mike. In 2021, he finished with the second-best contact percentage in baseball (89.1%), behind only Angels’ David Fletcher (90.5%). That order repeated in swinging strike percentage, with Fletcher at 6.5% and Brantley at 7.7%. Having that kind of mastery at the plate once again in 2022 will be a key factor for the ‘Stros.
6. Mission for Meyers and/or McCormick: Exploit their potential!
At this point, we don’t know who the regular center-fielder is going to be. If the Astros don’t acquire anyone else, it’s either Chas McCormick or Jake Meyers. I have the feeling that there’s more upside for both of them and what we saw in 2021 is not actually their ceiling. Unlocking all their potential is a must for them and the Astros this year.
7. The Astros need Kyle Tucker to have a hot start
Last year, Kyle Tucker didn’t have the start people were expecting. After the first month of the campaign, the right-fielder was slashing .181/.238/.372 across 106 plate appearances and 26 games. But it was a different story as days passed. In fact, he was among the best hitters in baseball during the second half, thanks in part to a massive .327/.398/.631/1.029 slash line.
8. Yordan Álvarez will make history
Álvarez is on an incredible pace in terms of doubles and home runs. And regarding the latter, he has great odds to become the first-ever Astro to record his 100th career home run before his 400th career game. By the time of his 400th game, Lance Berkman had registered 89 bombs, most in history for any Astros player — but maybe not for much more. Álvarez, who has 61 dingers, is currently at 233 games and will get to 395 if he plays 162 times, which seems odd. Chances are huge for him.