WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Imagine life in Josh Reddick's world in 2017. He made $13 million in the first year of a four-year, $52 million deal, he had career highs in hits, doubles and OPS for the Astros, had an entire ballpark yelling "Woo!" when he came to bat, and won his first World Series ring -- which he celebrated by wearing an American flag Speedo.
As storybook as last year was for the 31-year-old outfielder, Reddick's season wasn't without a few road bumps. He scuffled at the plate in the American League Championship Series and World Series, but hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy was a perfect cap to Reddick's red, white and blue all-American dream season.
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"These guys are so much fun to be around," Reddick said, dressed in Spiderman fitness clothes he wears under his uniform. "We knew the expectations coming were pretty high."
Reddick is one of the elder statesman in the core of an Astros lineup he shares with George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. But he's just as important. He hit .314 last year with 13 homers, 34 doubles and 82 RBIs, including .346 with runners in scoring position and .344 at home.
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He figures to bat mostly second this year as Houston aims to repeat.
"I think being sandwiched between guys like George, Altuve and Correa for most of the year made my job easier," Reddick said. "As being the lefty who got plugged in there, I felt like maybe [opposing pitchers] were a little bit more relieved to see me in the box. I got a few more pitches to hit than most people would, but you've still got to hit them. My development as I got older is not try to do so much, and I've gotten so much better at using the other side of the field over the last couple of years, and I stayed with that approach and not tried to hit the ball out of the ballpark all the time."
As a result, Reddick proved he could consistently hit southpaws by batting .315 against lefties in 2017, which was a huge improvement over the career .218 batting average he had against them entering the year.
"I was really proud how he handled lefties last year," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That was one thing when he came in, there was a question mark how much he was going to play against lefties."
Reddick's most impactful hit came off a right-hander, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. Reddick's opposite-field single off the All-Star put Houston ahead in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the AL Division Series at Fenway Park. The outfielder hit .375 in the ALDS, but went on a Major League-tying 0-for-22 postseason slump in the ALCS. He was 3-for-24 in the World Series. That did little, though, to diminish how much he enjoyed the Astros' ride to the championship.
"Regardless of what I do, if the team wins, I'm always going to be a happy camper," Reddick said. "These guys pretty much let me jump on their back and ride along. I said it before, these guys won me a ring and I didn't do a whole lot once the Division Series was over, but that's what makes a team. Guys are going to be off and some guys are going to be hot, and you hope your guys can carry you when you're not doing your job."