Can Yordan be unanimous as Rookie of Year?

Beat reporter Brian McTaggart answers questions from fans

August 27th, 2019

HOUSTON -- With 30 games remaining in the regular season and the playoffs set to start in five weeks, let’s open the Inbox and see what’s on your mind regarding the surging Astros, who at 85-47 have their best record through 132 games in franchise history.

should not only win the Rookie of the Year, but he has a shot to be unanimous. In only 59 games, Alvarez has 58 RBIs with 19 home runs, a .322 batting average, a .417 on-base percentage and a 1.090 OPS. His biggest competition was Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe, an All-Star who is now out for the year. Even so, Alvarez already has better numbers. Orioles pitcher John Means (9-9, 3.61 ERA) has had a strong rookie season, but it’s not close to anything Alvarez has done for a winning club.

The Astros have only had two Rookies of the Year -- Jeff Bagwell in the National League in 1991 and in the American League in 2015. Correa set an Astros rookie record with 22 home runs in 2015, and Alvarez should smash that. He should be a huge part of the Astros’ chances to win in the postseason, too.

had three RBIs in Sunday’s win and posted his first multihit game since July 14, which may spark him to a strong finish. It’s no secret he’s struggled mightily during the second half of the season. No one is more frustrated with that than Reddick, a competitor who plays the game hard and wants to win.

will be called up in September after a good (not great) year at Triple-A Round Rock, but how much he will play is yet to be determined. He didn’t perform well in his first taste in the big leagues last year, and he’s nowhere close to the defensive player Reddick is. There are also questions about Tucker’s effort, which will have to improve for him to be a part of this club.

I’d find it hard to imagine the Astros would leave Alvarez on the bench in the World Series, even in a National League city. Alvarez can play the outfield. He’s not going to win the Gold Glove, but as long as he makes the routine plays and hits the cutoff man, he should be in the lineup for every game in the World Series. It would be hard to keep that bat on the bench at such a critical time.

All three are free agents, as you know, and there’s a chance none of them could return. Of those three, I’d say has the best shot at returning. He’s been terrific this year at a bargain rate of $4.5 million and loves playing for the Astros. He should have a lot of suitors in the offseason, but I see the Astros making a strong bid for him to return.

I wouldn’t expect Hector Rondon to return, and I anticipate Collin McHugh testing free agency for the first time.

Joe Smith is also a free agent in the bullpen, which could look a lot different next year. Will Harris is too, and the Astros should make a strong effort to re-sign him. Harris and Miley are both from Louisiana and drove to Spring Training together, so maybe it will be a package deal for the bayou boys.

There is zero chance Forrest Whitley will pitch in the big leagues this year, especially in the playoffs. After getting rocked in Triple-A to start the year, the Astros sent him to the Gulf Coast League for a “reset” to his season, and he’s slowly making progress. In his last outing against Arkansas on Thursday, he struck out nine batters in five innings, but he walked four. He’s walked 14 batters and struck out 25 in 15 1/3 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi this year.

As far as the playoff bullpen is concerned, the Astros carried 11 pitchers in the ALDS last year. If the rotation is Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and Miley, there will be seven relievers. Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock, Harris and Smith appear to be locks at this point. So does a healthy Josh James, considering the heat he brings. Astros manager AJ Hinch appears to like what Rondon brings, and McHugh’s experience could be a plus for him, as well. All-Star Ryan Pressly is coming off knee surgery, so his availability for the ALDS could be in question. Joe Biagini, Aaron Sanchez and Framber Valdez are also vying for spots, but a lot depends on health and the first-round matchup.

I don’t think they’ve ignored it so much as they simply haven’t been able to land a lefty since Tony Sipp left the club following last season. But it’s not as if the Astros don’t have right-handers who can get lefties out. Lefties are hitting .121 against Pressly, .151 against Osuna, .178 against McHugh and .216 against Harris, who has given up only one extra-base hit to a lefty this year. He’s held lefties to a .247 slugging percentage and a .487 OPS, which is sixth among AL relievers.

The Astros are going to open any playoff series with Verlander in Game 1 and Cole in Game 2. Those are arguably the best two pitchers in the AL, and you want your best guys going in the first two games. Having Greinke pitch in Game 3 at home (and batting) would work out nicely if the Astros don’t have home-field advantage if they reach the World Series (which would mean they are playing the Dodgers). Greinke is a .224 career hitter with nine home runs on his resume. If you’re going to have a starter hit, it would be him, but not at the expense of lining up your pitching the way you want it.