Carlos Correa perfectly maintained his balance. As the high slider approached, Correa kept his weight back, went the other way and flipped the breaking pitch into the right-field bleachers. He knew he had one off the bat, as did the packed crowd.
Oh yes, Correa is heating up.
Correa smacked a two-run home run and reached base three times in the Astros’ 6-5 win over the Rangers on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. It was the latest productive night at the office for Correa, who has begun to once again flash his All-Star talent.
“I loved his swings today,” said third baseman Alex Bregman. “He hit a slider out to the opposite field. You have to be really strong to do that. Then, in his last at-bat, he stayed through another slider to left field.”
Correa’s great night at the plate was the continuation of what he’s done recently. Correa reached base safely four times on Wednesday and Friday, and has raised his OPS by 67 points in the last quartet of games. For the Astros, Correa’s re-emergence has been a welcome sight given his recent scuffles.
Correa sprinted out of the gates to begin the season, boasting a 1.011 OPS through 10 games, but just as quickly came crashing down to earth. From April 13 to May 13, Correa slashed .216/.264/.314 across 110 plate appearances. Despite the poor numbers, there were signs that Correa would reverse course.
First, there were the underlying stats. During the aforementioned stretch, Correa had an xBA (expected batting average) of .296, which would rank around the 90th percentile, with an average exit velocity of 90.9. Simply put, Correa was hitting the ball hard. That should theoretically lead to good results. Not the case.
For Correa, there was also the element of luck. Or rather, the lack of it. During that month-long span, Correa had a .238 BABIP. Correa’s career BABIP, by contrast, is .313. Translation: Correa was getting unlucky.
The law of large numbers tends to settle these things. With a home run, walk and double on Saturday, Correa’s slash line sits at .259/.325/.435 with a 120 wRC+. Should Correa stay hot, expect those numbers to continue rising.
“His swing looks really good,” Bregman said. “He’s at his best when he’s driving the ball through the middle of the field. He looks like he’s doing a great job of really staying through the baseball.”
“He’s been hitting the ball well,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s been hitting the ball great. Everybody likes to see results because he’s been working hard in the cage, especially with [hitting coach] Alex Cintrón. You always want to see some fruits of your hard work, and tonight, it paid off for him and us.”
The potential of Correa beginning to heat up should send shudders down the collective spine of pitching staffs across the league.
Houston has already been one of the Major Leagues' best offenses without Correa playing at the peak of his powers. Entering Saturday, the Astros led the Majors in batting average (.264), wRC+ (119) and fWAR (8.6), production that’s been fueled by the usual suspects.
Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez have been two of the Majors' best hitters. Bregman, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker all provided their typical production. Add Correa into the mix, and Houston’s offense is all the more dangerous.
“It’s great to see him smile,” Baker said. “It’s great to see him happy.”