While the Houston Astros have plenty of talent to be considered for American League MVP, one dark horse candidate should be Yuli Gurriel.
La Pina, as he is so cleverly called, has been a tremendous asset since being signed in 2016. However, it has been the current 2019 season that has seen him have a breakout year of sorts. One that may even have him be in the conversation for the end of season awards. Specifically, Most Valuable Player.
How do you ask? Well, to know exactly what makes Yuli Gurriel such a gem to this 2019 Houston Astros team, we have to dive into the numbers. That is what baseball has been and always will be, after all. For Gurriel, many different categories stand out. For example, here are some of his current offensive rankings in the American League, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
- Batting average (.306 – 9th)
- Hits (142 – 8th)
- RBI (88 – 6th)
- Extra Base Hits, or XBH (61 – 6th)
Delving a little further into his advanced stats and situational hitting, the numbers are even more impressive:
- Weighted Runs Created (wRC+) – 134
- Isolated Power (ISO) – .244
- Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – 2.8
- Leadoff OPS – .837
- RISP OPS – .986
Defensively, Gurriel has been keeping things solid with the glove as well. He currently has the third most assists at first base in the American League with 55 and a fielding percentage just under 1.000 on the year. The team has even shifted him across the diamond to both second and third base when so many of the position players were all injured at one point in the months of May and June.
True, Gurriel still has some flaws. He has some occasions where he has gotten to aggressive in the
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batter’s box and grounds into double plays. Additionally, his defensive runs saved of -2 across the infield does leave a little something to be desired.
Nevertheless, he has truly carried this team, even in the wake of injuries. True, the core four of George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman all have their own cases to make. At the same time, so does Michael Brantley, who has ended up being an incredible acquisition for the Astros this past offseason.
Regardless, it may be time to start including Gurriel in the discussion. Barring some sort of truly terrible slump, La Pina has time and again shown a lot of consistency throughout the 2019 season. So much so that the team trusted him enough to be a more of a utility infielder in the wake of Marwin Gonzalez departing the team for Minnesota.
Numbers constantly change in this game. But for La Pina, he doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon, and that’s a good thing for all of us.
Do you agree? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.