The X-Stros are all those players that have passed on. They were here but now are gone. No, not dead. They have not shuffled off this mortal coil (unless that’s fancy talk for a jersey). They instead are spread far and wide through the league. But this here is the X-stroverse, all these former Astros (the most interesting anyway) are gathered in one spot for Astro fans to continue to follow be it out of love or, knowing fans, out of spite.
Some of these guys are playing in less valuable positions for the X-Stros than they are in real life, so I assume that their WAR projections should change, but oh well. What am I? Made of math? And I am not giving one single thought to playing time. I am using Zips for the projections here. I have no idea if it is a better projection system than any other system out there or not, and I did not pick it because it makes any of these players look better or worse. Instead, I chose Zips for the simple reason that I enjoy Dan Szymborski’s writing even if I have to go to Fangraphs and look at the list of authors in order to check the spelling of his name anytime I post a comment referencing his work. Seriously, if he was just so-so at his job, the name spelling would be enough to make me to find some other Joe-Schmoe or Schmoette writer that wrote something similar with an easier to spell name to reference. And since I was spending a lot of time at Fangraphs, I used their Average Annual Salary for each player, and whenever a player was listed as pre-arbitration, I used the new league minimum of $700,000 for his salary.
Anyway, today it’s the position players for the X-Stros, and if it’s not too much of a pain in the butt, tomorrow will be the pitching staff. The team is managed by A.J. Hinch with Alex Cora as the bench coach and with Brent Strom looking after the pitchers. The GM is Fate.
1) Batting leadoff on opening day and playing rightfield is George Springer. Injuries limited his playing time during his first full season with the X-Stros in 2021, but he still slashed .264/.352/.555 with 22 home runs and accumulated 2.4 WAR. He’s projected for .267/.352/.513 and 3.3 WAR. Georgie is projected to play a mere 100 games, so if he stays healthy, he could easily beat that WAR projection. You can catch the Springer Show live in Toronto where he’s earning about $25M a year.
2) The two hole is occupied by long time X-Stros second baseman and sometimes center fielder, Enrique Hernández. Despite proving that he can handle centerfield at Fenway by posting a 7.4 UZR there in 2021, the X-Stros have a far greater need for him on the infield. Their outfield is already stacked with big bats and/or good fielders. Hernández is projected to hit .264/.339/.474 for 3.5 WAR. He’s still hanging out in Boston and paying Massachusetts state income tax on $7M a year.
3) X-Stros manager, A.J. Hinch, was excited to pencil his new starting shortstop into the three hole in the lineup. The X-Stros broke the bank and gave Correa $35.1M this season to fill the hole at shortstop, and he’s projected to be their best position player in 2022 with a .275/.354/.479 and 5.1 WAR projection. You know where to find him. You do. Don’t lie. You’ve already checked his spring stats and had a restraining order filed against you.
4) Protecting Correa in the lineup is the original "one who got away," the guy we all watched destroy the minors along with Jose Altuve. The guy who rudely waited until he joined the X-Stros to tweak his swing and become an offensive force, J.D. Martinez. Never a strong fielder, J.D. DHs for the X-Stros and forces another J.D. onto the field. Martinez is projected to do what he always does and hit .271/.342./.482 for 2.3 WAR (DH penalty!). Martinez resides with Enrique in Boston making almost three times as much as the second baseman/center fielder ($22M) a year.
5) The final Hernández to make the team is Teoscar. Having tired of trampling Altuve, Teoscar joined the X-Stros and has established himself as a bonafide power hitter. He plays left field for the team and earns a paltry $10.7M this season and is projected to slash .268/.324/.505 for 2 WAR.
6) Covering third and batting 6th is yet another J.D. This one, like the last one, is probably better suited to be a DH, but after A.J. Hinch said, "Why the hell not?" The X-Stros are playing J.D. Davis in the field and paying him $2.8M for his trouble. He’s projected to hit .262/.342/.430 for 1.3 WAR. He’s currently getting heckled by Newman and Kramer in Queens.
7) Speaking of heckled, the poor guy that Cardinal fans love to make signs about is batting 7th and playing first base. Colin Moran got himself a brain and is projected to hit .264/.329/.444 for only .1 WAR. He might swap places with Davis and play some third base too. "I have no idea who’s a better fielder," A.J. responded to questions about his defensive alignment. "J.D. or Colin? Does it really matter?" He then stared forlornly at his shoes. Moran’s salary is $1M, and he’s oiling the gears on the mummified and embarrassing corpse of The Big Red Machine these days.
8) Right now, Astros fans are looking at the projected slash line of Martin Maldonado and drinking… I mean… thinking, "If only we had a catcher that could fake it at the plate." The X-Stros don’t have that problem. Batting 8th is Max Stassi. He may not be Tony Eusebio, but he did have a wrc+ of 136 in 2020 and one of 107 in 2022 while being a strong fielder a at position where fielding is considered important by people in the know, people like A.J. Hinch who had this to say about Max, "I was a catcher, you know, and a history buff. And what can I say? I’ve never been a fan the Stasi or the KGB." Stassi is projected to hit .223/.304/.396 and generate 1.8 WAR. He just signed an extension with the LA Trouts and is earning $5.8M.
9) Batting in the second leadoff spot is last year’s trade deadline acquisition, center fielder Myles Straw. A gold glove caliber fielder, Straw is projected for .271/.342/.349 and 2.8 WAR while probably making the league minimum of $700K. Straw might get bumped to the bench when the former starting center fielder Ramón Laureano returns from his PED suspension. That suspension is what prompted the Cleveland branch of the X-Stros to go out and get Straw for the stretch drive last season... Yes, something that happened in Oakland resulted in Straw playing in Cleveland. That’s how the X-Stroverse works.
I’m getting tired of typing this up, and the fun bits are done. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what an MLB active roster stands at these days and don’t feel like looking it up. I think I’m going with 26. It’s not 25 anymore, and it seems to change monthly, and I don’t know if the fake batter that leads off every extra inning with double counts or not. Like I said, I’m getting tired, so here is the X-Stros bench:
INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez (NY Yankees lol) $700K Zips: .229/.296/.359 .5 WAR
INF Jonathan Villar (Cubs) $6M Zips: .254/.320/.399 1.4 WAR
OF Robbie Grossman (Detroit) $5M Zips: .243/.349/.408 2.1 WAR
INF Jed Lowrie (Oakland) $850K Zips: .235/.307/.379 .6 WAR
C2 Jake Rogers (Detroit) $700K Zips: .203/.281/.392 1.5 WAR
C3 Robinson Chirinos (Baltimore) $900K Zips .209/.305/.388 .5WAR
Suspended for the first 27 games:
OF Ramón Laureano (Oakland) $2M Zips: .259/.329/.472 2.9 WAR
Total position player projected WAR (not including Laureano): 28.8 WAR
Total position player payroll (also not including Laureano): $124.25M
Tomorrow: the pitchers, led by a name that rhymes with "Ferret Hole."