So here we are! The Atlanta Braves are in the World Series and after taking on a monumental task starting out in training the Dodgers, they move on to another task that seems to be just as difficult, if not more difficult. The Astros have been squashing the ball all season and that has clearly translated into playoff success as they are the ones the Braves will face in this year’s Fall Classic.
As a team, you’re not going to find too many teams that were better than the Astros were on the plate this year. They led all baseball in wRC + (116) and were the second best team in both OPS + (113) and wOBA (.336). While the Braves are a better hitting team with an isolated power count of 0.191, the Astros can get by with an ISO of 0.177. They also finished with a BABIP of .303 as a team, which was up there with their two fallen playoff enemies known as the White Sox and Red Sox. The numbers jump out at you at a glance, but at this point it’s nothing new for the Braves when it comes to playoff opponents.
The Astros had 11 players who have played at least 80 games for them this season. Of those 11, all but two had wRC + less than 99. Six of those hitters had wRC + greater than 120. These six hitters are the heart of the Houston roster and collectively they are a heart that does a lot of pumping. for this team and that’s one of the main reasons they’ve come this far this season.
Personally, when I think of the Astros, I usually go straight to José Altuve as a first thought. 2020 wasn’t his year, but he came back here in force in 2021 and looked more like himself. It is still absolutely absurd that someone as small as Altuve is able to fight for power at the rate they do. Yet here it is: A 5’6 “, 166-pound freak of nature who can hit dingers with any big, powerful hitter you can think of. He’ll be their main force at the top of the order and it won’t. will only become more precarious from there.
Michael Brantley hasn’t hit with a lot of power this year, but that’s about the one thing he hasn’t hit. His spray chart basically covers the entire court, he sits in the 100th percentile of all hitters when it comes to expected batting average (xBA) and while he doesn’t walk much at all, he thwarts it. removing only 10 percent of the time. . It’s going to be extremely difficult to sniff him out on the pitch, so the main hope is that any contact he makes will be a soft touch.
Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel are going to be in the middle of the order and it doesn’t matter who’s on the plate any of them can go off and do a lot of damage anytime. Alvarez will be their designated hitter during the American League World Series game and he’s your prototype DH in that he’s basically there to smash dingers and strike for power with runners in scoring position. He also comes out of a monstrous performance in the ALCS. The only person hotter than Alvarez in the League Championship Series was Eddie Rosario, so that should tell you how hot Alvarez is right now.
Kyle Tucker has shown flashes of his power potential throughout his time in the minors and during pushes in the big leagues last year. This was the year he became a steadfast force in Houston training. If you’re the wRC + leader on the 2021 Astros, then you’re really doing something. This is exactly what Kyle Tucker did, as he was the skilled team leader in both wRC + and isolated power on that team. That makes him one of the most dangerous hitters in this lineup and one who should be taken as seriously as any of the playoff veterans in this lineup.
For Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel, it’s old hat. This will be the third World Series for these two guys and they will both be looking to continue to contribute at a very high level here at this stage of the playoffs. Correa in particular is known to be huge for the Astros in October, so keeping him going will be crucial as he’s just as likely as anyone in this lineup to hit a dinger at any time. Gurriel is less of a powerful hitter and more of the Brantley type in that he can get cluster hits and doesn’t hit often at all.
Alex Bregman is another incredibly dangerous hitter on this team who can burst and put a charge in a ball anytime. He’s not hitting at the otherworldly levels he was reaching before the 2020 campaign, but as usual with a lot of guys in this roster, it’s worth being extra careful when it comes to this hitter. . Chas McCormick has had a very good rookie season and the best compliment you can give him is that he looks 100% like he belongs to this high power roster.
The only real “break” in this formation comes in the form of receiver Martin Maldonado and it is probably the only regular weak point of this formation. If they choose to strike, they’ll put Jason Castro as the receiver, but Maldonado is there to take out the baserunners and play solid defense behind the plate. As long as he gives them that, the Astros will be okay with having him in the lineup.
Jake Meyers was in the Postseason Astros roster but suffered a shoulder injury so if he plays he might not be extremely effective as an outfield bat for the Astros. They also carried Jose Siri in their playoff roster and he actually made a few starts for them in the ALCS after playing in a total of 21 games during the regular season. It’s unclear what to expect from a guy Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart described as ‘a conundrum’, but if the Astros trust him to start so late in the season, he’s worth it. to keep an eye on him.
I spoke at length about the dangerousness of this offense of the Astros. That being said, I also spoke at length about how deep and loaded the Dodgers are. While the Dodgers have shown and proven how difficult they can be to manage at times, the Braves pitching staff actually rose to the task and got the outs when they needed them most. They will again have to fire at full speed and errors will have to be kept to a minimum. Simply put, if the Braves have dealt with the Dodgers, they should be able to deal with the Astros. The finish line is within reach and the trophy is within sight and the Braves are really going to win that title if they can send the Astros and this roster.