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Jeremy Pena: MLB’s Best Shortstop? Astros MVP?

It’s only 42 games into the season, but so far...Just maybe.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The season is about one-quarter over and guess who’s the best shortstop in baseball? If you guessed Francisco Lindor you’d be wrong. If you guessed Xander Bogaerts you’d be wrong. If you guessed Corey Seager or Dansby Swanson, you’d be wrong. If you’d guessed Carlos Correa, wrong again.

According to Baseball Reference the leading shortstop in baseball by Wins Above Replacement is Jeremy Pena. Jeremy Pena, rookie, Houston Astros.

His 2.2 bWAR is tops, just above J.P. Crawford at 2.0 and Tim Anderson at 1.9.

OK, it’s only one-quarter of the season, and Tim Anderson leads in fWAR, 2.0 to 1.9 for Pena. Still, we’re half way to the All-Star game, and at this rate Pena will have almost 8.0 WAR for the season. Is that possible?

Carlos who?

Let’s break down some more remarkable Pena-stats. (Compared to other shortstops)

  • Second in wRC+ at 151
  • Second in slugging at .508
  • Third in homers with 7
  • Second in ISO at .222
  • Fourth in xWOBA at .368
  • Fifth in average exit velocity at 89.6
  • Third in barrels with 12
  • Second in DRS at 5
  • Sixth in DEF rating at 4.2
  • Seventh in Outs Above Average at 3
  • Fourth in sprint speed at 29.4 ft/s.

Can you say 5-tool?

Jeremy Pena leads the Astros in fWAR and is tied with Kyle Tucker for first in bWAR. Pena has the 12th highest fWAR rating among all players in MLB.

At the beginning of the season most of us said the Astros would be ok if Jeremy Pena was just ok. Right now the Astros have a 27-15 record. At this rate they could win 100 games. And so far, the rookie replacement for Carlos Correa is possibly the team’s most valuable player.