The finalists for starting positions in the All-Star Game were announced a few days ago. Of all the great teams in Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros have the most finalists, with seven. Being a finalist doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be an All-Star. However, it generally means you are having at least a pretty good season. Houston may not have seven offensive All-Stars, but it is reflective of the depth of the Astros lineup. Here is a look at this season’s seven Astros 2021 All-Star finalists.
1B- Yuli Gurriel
In 2021, Yuli Gurriel has been the poster child for getting better with age. Since he entered the league as a 32-year-old rookie in 2016, he has been a great hitter. In his first three full seasons, from 2017-2019, he hit over .291 in each of them. After a down 2020, Gurriel has bounced back in a big way. The 37-year-old is having his best season to date. In the past, you could get the veteran to ground out by getting him to chase. You can no longer do that; Gurriel has posted a career-high 10.7% walk rate. He was already hard to strike out, but this year he has posted a career-low strikeout rate, 9.1%.
2B- Jose Altuve
Gurriel is having a big bounce-back season, but Jose Altuve has been the king of bounce-back seasons. Altuve hit .219 with just five home runs in the shortened 2020 season, but his numbers in 2021 couldn’t be more different. The 31-year-old is hitting .288 with a team-leading 17 homers. He has flourished in the lead-off spot, having scored 59 runs entering Tuesday, which also leads the team.
SS- Carlos Correa
Currently in his final season before free agency, Carlos Correa is putting together his finest season yet. The 26-year-old has a slash line of .303/.400/.534. Much like Gurriel, he has a career-high walk rate of 13.2% and a career-low strikeout rate of 16.3%. Most importantly though, he has been healthy. He has played in 74 of the Astros’ 79 games entering Tuesday. This a good sign for Correa, who has only played over 110 games once in his seven-year career.
3B- Alex Bregman
Before he was hampered by a hamstring injury, Alex Bregman was having another solid season. In his sixth major league season, Bregman has a slash line of .275/.359/.428. The power hasn’t been there like it was when he finished in the top-five in MVP voting in 2018 and 2019, but the trademark plate discipline is still there. His walk rate is still well above average, sitting at 11.1%.
C- Martin Maldonado
The offensive numbers are not particularly pretty, but Martin Maldonado’s value goes beyond what he does in the batter’s box. The veteran is always lauded for the way he handles a pitching staff. He is especially valuable to Houston because of the number of young pitchers on the roster, particularly the young Latin-born pitchers. Also, he is catching base-stealers at a 43% clip, which is second in the AL.
OF- Michael Brantley
If Gurriel is one of the poster children for getting better with age, Michael Brantley may be the president of that club. The 34-year-old is having another fantastic season, hitting what would be a career high .344 entering Tuesday. He is once again among the league leaders in doubles with 22. Brantley hasn’t been completely healthy, having missed 20 games this season, but when he has been on the field, he has raked.
DH- Yordan Alvarez
2020 was a lost season for Yordan Alvarez because of knee surgery, but the 24-year-old has picked up where he left off in 2019. The former AL Rookie of the Year has shown that he is the real deal, slashing .297/.366/.526. The slugger has 30 extra-base hits in 66 games. Alvarez still hasn’t played 162 games in his career, but his numbers are undeniably impressive.
Houston’s offense has scored well over 400 runs in the first half of the season, leading the league by a solid margin. Their lineup has been dynamic and that is reflected by the seven Astros 2021 All-Star finalists. You can vote for All-Star starters at MLB.com.
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