Handing out Astros' accolades at one-third mark

May 31st, 2023

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Astros are 32-22 through 54 games, which means their season is one-third of the way complete. That puts them on pace for 96 wins, which would be the sixth full season in a row that they’ve won at least 95 games. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but let’s take a look at what’s in the books already.

Here’s a review of the Astros’ season at the one-third mark:

Most Valuable Player:
Who else? Not only does he lead the team in homers (14) and RBIs (48), but he’s also among the AL leaders in both of those categories, as well as slugging percentage, OPS and on-base percentage. He is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position (including .500 with runners in scoring position and two outs) and .556 with the bases loaded.

Pitcher of the Year:
The left-handed Valdez, the Astros’ Pitcher of the Year in 2022, has picked up where he left off. Through 11 starts, he is 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. In 72 innings, he’s allowed 60 hits, 15 walks and struck out 77 batters. He shut out the A’s on May 21.

Rookie of the Year:
The right-hander, who was the team’s No. 8-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline entering the season, is 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA through his first 10 starts. He entered Tuesday ranked first among rookies in ERA, opponents’ batting average (.241) and wins.

Best Moment of the Year I
José Abreu ended his career-long 260-at-bat, 51-game homerless drought with a solo homer against the A’s on Sunday. Abreu sprinted around the bases, going home to home in 17.6 seconds, and slid into the visiting dugout, where he was greeted by his excited teammates. That was one of a franchise-record-tying seven homers by Houston.

Best Moment of the Year II
Alvarez clubbed a two-out, two-run homer off Braves reliever A.J. Minter in the ninth inning to break a tie and send the Astros to a 6-4 win in the series opener in Atlanta on April 21, setting the stage for a three-game sweep in a battle of the last two World Series champions.

Worst Moment of the Year I
Eight pitches into his sixth start of the season on May 1, starting pitcher Luis Garcia suffered a devastating right elbow injury and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery. He will be out of action until the 2024 season, leaving the Astros without a workhorse starting pitcher.

Worst Moment of the Year II
One day before Garcia injured his elbow and was lost for the season, starting pitcher José Urquidy departed his April 30 start against the Phillies after 5 1/3 innings due to right shoulder inflammation. He landed on the injured list and he is expected to be out until the All-Star break.

Play of the Year I
Center fielder Chas McCormick made a tremendous catch at the wall in the sixth inning of a 7-3 win over the Cubs on May 16 at Minute Maid Park. The catch brought back memories of his amazing grab in Game 5 of last year’s World Series in Philadelphia. McCormick said the catch to rob Dansby Swanson of a hit in May was more difficult than his Fall Classic gem because he had to run farther and jump higher.

Play of the Year II
Center fielder Jake Meyers crashed into the wall and held onto the ball to complete a great catch in a 12-2 win over the Brewers on May 22 in Milwaukee. It was Meyers’ first hard impact with the outfield wall since he injured his shoulder crashing into the wall in Game 4 of the 2021 ALDS in Chicago, an injury that required surgery and kept him out into the ’22 season.