The Houston Astros went from a slow first two series to the hottest team in baseball the past three series. A healthy Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are a huge part of that.
The Houston Astros 2018 season did end the way the team and fans wanted and expected it to. The team followed up bringing home the 2017 World Series trophy with the best regular season in franchise history at 103 wins to only 59 losses.
Unfortunately, this brilliant campaign came to a screeching halt in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. The Astros and Red Sox split two games in Boston before the Red Sox came finished off the series in Houston in three additional games.
It was a very disappointing end to a season that had extremely realistic World Series aspirations and to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000.
But, there was still plenty of reasons for optimism for this Houston Astros team ending the 2018 season and heading into the 2019 season. For starters, they were retaining over 20 contributors and only losing three guys. But, the biggest reason was that the team would be healthy, something they weren’t almost all of last year.
Two of the guys that were the most injured in 2018 were Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. On the surface, both guys were still around for the majority of the season playing in 137 and 110 games, respectively. But, both men were severely hampered by a knee injury for Altuve and a back injury for Correa.
Correa missed significant time for the second year in a row and Altuve hit the injured list for the first time in his career. In the games they were able to play, after their respective injuries, both guys did not look right.
The ball normally jumps off of Correa’s bat and he had the lowest average exit velocity of his career with not too many hits above 100 mph. The back injury also robbed him of his defensive prowess as he wasn’t really able to make the consistent highlight plays that he has become known for.
Altuve’s knee injury got so bad that he was a shell of himself in the playoffs, especially in that ALCS against the Red Sox. AT&T Sports Network has been playing an interview with Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch during games that shows him discussing Altuve, he says that “[Altuve] was playing on one leg” in the playoffs.
It was a painful end to an injury-filled season that still saw the Houston Astros collect a franchise high 103 wins. But, that 2018 season is behind us now and both Altuve and Correa are absolutely 100% healthy and let me tell ya, it is a wonderful, magical thing. The past couple of series have put their health and how they’re some of the best in the business when they are healthy.
Altuve is on pace to break 200 hits for the fifth time in the past six years. He has also been on a ridiculous tear of 6 homers in 5 games for 7 total in 16 games which, if averaged out is a pace of 70+. Altuve won’t hit 70 homers but he may very well set a career high this year. Finally, he is also on pace for over 130 RBIs which is a fairly realistic number.
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Correa’s offensive pace is on par with the best season of his career, 2017 when he was an All-Star. He’s already blasted a couple of homers and driven in several runs this year to go with a .313 average. He could very easily set career highs in every offensive category this year. Additionally, his defense has simply been outstanding saving his pitchers countless times already.
Having these two guys fully healthy and contributing at the high level that they are is a greater boon to the Houston Astros than any offseason addition could have been. Their health and subsequent production have allowed the team to overcome a rough first two series to be one of the hottest and best teams in baseball yet again.
Altuve and Correa have been very, very good so far in 2019. The Houston Astros are going to be a good team regardless but having these guys fully healthy and producing at the high level they are is what makes this team favorites for the World Series yet again.