Houston Astros Last Season Performance
For all of the backlash that the Astros have received over the past few years, they have remained one of the most consistent franchises in baseball during that span. They have made the postseason in six of the past seven seasons and have won three American League Pennants during that time as well.
2021 saw the Astros win their third AL Pennant since 2017. However, they would go on to lose the World Series against the Atlanta Braves in six games. Nonetheless, Houston enjoyed another successful campaign in 2021.
The offense was once again amongst the best in baseball. The lineup had three 30-plus home run hitters including; Yordan Alvarez (33), Jose Altuve (31), and Kyle Tucker (30). They also featured three players with .290 batting averages or better including; Yuli Gurriel (.319), Michael Brantley (.311), and Kyle Tucker (.294).
The lineup displayed a blend of consistency between power and pure hitting ability which made striking them out a very difficult task for opposing pitchers. In fact, Houston struck out the second least amount of times in the MLB behind only the Blue Jays. They finished the 2021 season as the leading team in both runs scored and batting average.
But the pitching was also impressive.
Lance McCullers, Framber Valdez, Christian Javier, Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia all had ERA’s in the threes. As a result, the Astros finished seventh in team ERA with a mark of 3.78.
Star Closer Ryan Pressly led the bullpen with 26 saves and a 2.25 ERA. He also had just a 0.97 whip and only posted two blown saves throughout the course of the year.
Looking for any kind of real weakness on this Astros team was difficult in 2021. Houston rolled past the White Sox in the ALDS before taking down the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Although many had the Astros pegged as favorites in the World Series against Atlanta, the Braves simply outperformed the Astros and ended up taking the series four games to two.
The Astros will look to bounce back and make another deep postseason run in 2022.
Houston Astros Off-Season Changes
The mindset in Houston remains the same. This is an organization with aspirations of winning a title while their core remains intact. Sure, some of that core has left over the years.
Players such as George Springer and Gerrit Cole found new homes in the AL East, and Carlos Correa is currently a free agent. But Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, and Alex Bregman are still under contract. Additionally, a younger group of stars is forming in Houston with Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker leading the charge.
The potential departure of Correa would be a major change for the franchise though. He has been the backbone of the organization for years now and the Astros team would not feel the same without him. It will be interesting to see if the Astros can resign the veteran shortstop once the MLB lockout comes to an end.
A couple of veteran starting pitchers entered the open market this offseason as well in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. But Houston quickly re-signed Verlander to a two-year deal. Greinke, who showed signs of decline in 2021, is still on the free-agent market.
The team also lost a number of bullpen arms so seeking relief pitching will likely be at the top of the list for Houston at the conclusion of the lockout. Their bullpen was far from the best in baseball last season even with Ryan Pressly locking down the ninth.
But for the most part, things are the same in Houston The team still has a winning culture which they expect to carry into the 2022 campaign.
Houston Astros Key Additions
Resigning Verlander feels like a brand new addition for the Astros after he missed the entirety of the 2021 season and pitched in just one game in 2020. But he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2019 and finished second in Cy Young voting in 2018.
The right-hander is 38 and has not pitched in nearly two years, so there are no guarantees that he will return to ace status. But he should be able to pitch at a decent level which will still be beneficial to the starting rotation.
The Astros added some bullpen help by bringing in longtime Phillies relief pitcher Hector Neris. Neris has been one of the most underrated relievers in baseball over the course of his seven-year career, as he has pitched to the tune of a 3.42 career ERA.
Neris continued to produce at a quality level in 2021 with a 3.63 ERA in 74 games for the Phillies. The 32-year-old will potentially be asked to pitch in late-inning situations for the Astros in a setup man role. There is a very good chance that manager Dusty Baker asks Neris to take the eighth inning and get the ball to Pressly this season.
Houston also exercised their team option on first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Gurriell was fantastic in 2021 as he sported a league leading .319 batting average to go along with a .383 OBP. He also smacked 15 home runs and drove in 81 runs.
And Gurriel was recognized for his defense efforts by earning his first Gold Glove award. 2021 was an all-around impressive season for the veteran infielder and it is no wonder why the Astros wanted him back for another season.
Houston Astros Key Subtractions
Carlos Correa is not technically a subtraction yet given his free agent status. But he is currently not a member of the Astros organization.
Correa has arguably been the most important player during the Astros recent reign of success. He joined the team in 2015 and immediately made his impact known by winning the AL Rookie of the Year award.
The shortstop was productive from 2016-2020, but had arguably his best season in 2021.
Correa posted a .279/.366/.485 slash line to go along with an .850 OPS. He also hit a career high 26 home runs and drove in 92 runs. Correa earned his first Gold Glove for his impressive defensive play at shortstop as well.
Houston will certainly have interest in resigning him, but the asking price could prove to be too steep.
Veterans Zack Greinke and Marwin Gonzalez are both still listed as free agents. Greinke has now logged ERA’s over four in back-to-back seasons and signs of decline are all too prevalent. The Astros may be content to let the veteran right-hander walk.
Gonzalez was acquired from Boston in 2021 and played in just 14 games for Houston. While his best years are behind him, he is still a decent hitter with multi-positional versatility which might pique the Astros interest.
The Astros also saw three bullpen arms leave the team in free agency during the offseason including; Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia, and Brooks Raley. All three have already signed with other teams making them non-options for Houston.
This is yet another reason why the Astros should pursue additional bullpen help once they are able to sign players again.
Read more MLB Picks & Parlays
Houston Astros Head Coach Analysis
Dusty Baker took over as manager of the Astros following the 2019 campaign. He was also hired for the job after news of the team’s sign-stealing scandal became public knowledge. Many people around baseball felt as if Baker was the only man for the job given his ability to control a clubhouse and deal with unfortunate situations.
Sure enough, Baker has done a tremendous job since taking over in Houston. The veteran manager has led the Astros to back-to-back playoff appearances including the 2021 AL Pennant victory.
Baker has been successful with almost every team has managed. He has a career winning percentage of .534 over 24 years of coaching in the big leagues. The one thing he has yet to do as a manager is to win a World Series.
But one would figure he will have a chance to earn his first World Series title coaching in Houston. The Astros front office are extremely fond of the work Baker has done so far and they will likely decide to keep him around until he chooses to retire.
Houston Astros Injured Players at the beginning of the season
Outfielder Jake Meyers injured his shoulder in the 2021 postseason but remained on the roster and was relegated to pinch-running duties. But his injury worsened in the ALCS and he is now expected to miss the early portion of the 2021 campaign.
But the Astros are hopeful that Meyers can return sometime in May.
Prospect Forrest Whitley needed Tommy John surgery to repair an elbow injury and is not expected to return until midseason in 2022. Whitley was once regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball but underperformance and injuries have derailed his overall value.
However, Houston is still hopeful the 24-year-old can be a part of the rotation down the road.
Lance McCullers missed the World Series and his status for Opening Day in 2022 is probable. The Astros believe should be ready to roll as he recovers from a forearm injury, but the situation will be worth keeping tabs on.
Alex Bregman and Rafael Montero are both listed as probable for the start of the season but both should be fine and ready for action.
Houston Astros Prediction for 2022 Season
The Astros are going to be contenders in 2022. The real question is how good will they be?
Before we truly know the answer to this question, we will need to see what other moves they make once the MLB lockout is over. Can they resign Correa? Will they be able to bring in bullpen help?
For now, I would expect them to be able to make a run in the AL West and finish at or near the top of the division. The Angels, Mariners, and Rangers have all taken steps in the right direction this offseason and the A’s are always threats to contend.
But Houston probably still features the best and most well-balanced roster in the division.
The Astros ceiling is the first place in the West and their floor is third place in the division. However, I highly doubt they will fall that far in the standings this year.
But if the Astros want to win the World Series in 2022 they will need to add help to the bullpen. I understand that we have discussed it in detail already, but bullpens tend to be the backbone of championship teams. That was one of the main reasons why the Braves performed so well in the postseason last year. Check out their MBL Lines.
Houston Astros Final Thoughts
The Astros are going to hit at an elite level again in 2022, and their pitching should do enough to help them contend. Expect another good season of MLB Odds along with the Astros this year.
Houston Astros Team Leaders
Houston Astros Team Ranked Stats
Houston Astros Team Scorebox
Houston Astros Team Injuries
Houston Astros Team Schedule/Results
Houston Astros Team Standings
Houston Astros Team Roster