The Houston Astros need some bats to get hot
The Houston Astros need their bats to get off to a big start in 2023. The Astros have featured teams with strong offensive performances for their previous deep postseason runs. An analyst recently picked an Astros shortstop as a likely player on the team that will outperform their fantasy draft expectations.
The Astros will have a new pitching rotation this season. The team lost starting pitcher Justin Verlander this offseason. With the defense uncertain, Houston will hope the regular starting lineup can continue to score many runs and exhibit stingy fielding.
One player is predicted to have a great season
The Athletic recently published a piece on all 30 MLB teams. They named one player from each team that is the likeliest to outperform their fantasy draft ranking for the 2023 season. Stephen Nesbitt chose shortstop Jeremy Pena as a Houston Astros player who could finish the season with better fantasy numbers than expected:
“Let’s not pretend Peña is still flying under the radar after what he did last postseason, but I think he’ll provide significantly more with the bat and on the basepaths in 2023 than what projections expect from him. Here’s an imperfect exercise: If we combine Peña’s regular-season and postseason stats from his rookie year, we have almost a full-season sample — 619 plate appearances, 84 runs, 26 homers, 71 RBI, 11 steals and a .263 batting average. For, like, the 19th shortstop to come off the board in your fantasy draft?
Yeah, I’d take that to the bank. There are reasons to believe the numbers will be even better this season. In 2022, Peña didn’t jump toward the top of the lineup until late in the season. That would be a wonderfully beneficial spot to stay in the loaded Astros lineup.
If Peña’s chase and walk rates begin mirroring his minor-league numbers, that’ll bring a better slash line and more stolen-base opportunities. Add in Peña’s 95th-percentile sprint speed, bigger bases and pick-off restrictions and it all suggests he could have more than 13 stolen base attempts this season.”
Pena needs to step up this season for the Houston Astros
Pena is the type of player the Houston Astros need to have another leap in 2023 during the regular season. The 25-year-old was a force for the Astros last season, especially in the postseason, when he won the World Series MVP. He did more than supply a helpful bat; the rookie won a Golden Glove Award for his fielding. There’s good reason for Astros fans to think Pena can improve on an already stellar season in year two.
However, Jon Anderson with RotoBaller isn’t convinced Pena can overcome weakness in his velocity:
“The good news with Pena was that he managed strikeouts (24%) and stole enough bases to be a positive in that category. The bad news is that his barrel rate was more “good” than “great” at 9.6% – and he doesn’t hit the ball very hard with a max exit velocity of 110.5 and a lower 36% hard-hit rate.
Pena feels like a safe bet to hit 20 homers and steal 10-15 bags again this year, which is certainly useful in fantasy, but there are fair questions about whether or not his ceiling is good enough to be a top 120 pick as a guy unlikely to start many games in the top five sports of the lineup.”
That’s a fair point by Anderson. As there are attributes that Pena can work on. Even with all of his early success stemming from last year’s championship season, it’s essential to remember Pena knows he has room to grow. If he can elevate his game by a small margin in his sophomore season, there’s a good chance fantasy fans who choose Pena will be rewarded for their risk.