Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Preview: Houston Astros

Share This Story

John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for FOXNews.com, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on FOXSportsRadio.com and follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
   
 

Hey, AL-only owners: Meet the Astros!

They’re not good, but they are rebuilding, which means you shouldn’t get attached to any of their mediocre veterans. On the bright side, they have some good prospects, and they seem to have a plan.

Offseason moves:

Traded for 1B/OF Chris Carter Carter comes over from the A’s after hitting 16 homers in 67 games last season. He’s 26 with big longball ability, and could power entire wind farms with his prodigious strikeout rate.

Signed RP Jose Veras Veras throws high-octane heat that misses many bats but doesn’t always go where he wants it. He’s expected to open the season as the Astros’ closer, but don’t expect him to have the job beyond July 31.

Signed 1B Carlos Pena Pena’s power seems to be diminishing, and his strikeout rate is going up. He’s slotted as the Astros’ primary DH. Take the under on a .209 batting average for Pena.

Signed SP Erik Bedard, claimed SP Philip Humber Someone’s gotta start every fifth day, right? Humber seems to have a good bead on a rotation spot, while Bedard might have to win a spring training battle.

Traded away IF Jed Lowrie and RP Wilton Lopez Lowrie will be a jack-of-all-trades for the A’s, while Lopez will try to keep the ball on the ground as a setup man in Colorado.

Projected Lineup

1. Tyler Greene SS
2. Jose Altuve 2B
3. Carlos Pena DH
4. Chris Carter LF
5. Brett Wallace 1B
6. Justin Maxwell CF
7. Jason Castro C
8. Fernando Martinez/J.D. Martinez RF
9. Matt Dominguez 3B

Greene’s Ks will keep his BA down, but his sneaky power/speed package can help you in deeper formats. Altuve is a speedy little guy who has his own unit of measurement. Wallace is with his fourth organization at age 26, but could hit 20-plus homers with a halfway decent batting average. Maxwell whiffed at a higher rate last season than Greene, Pena and Carter, which is no small feat. He might hit 20 homers with 15 steals, but it would be a minor miracle if he bats .240. Castro has some sleeper value, since he could hit double-digit homers with a not-horrible BA. Fernando will be the busier Martinez in right field because he bats lefty, but neither one is very good. Dominguez is a good-glove, no-bat third baseman.

Warning: The only Astro hitters that can be trusted to keep their jobs all season are Altuve, Castro and maybe Wallace. Everyone else is risky.

Rotation

1. Lucas Harrell
2. Bud Norris
3. Jordan Lyles
4. Philip Humber
5. Erik Bedard/Jarred Cosart
CL: Jose Veras

Harrell and his groundball-heavy repertoire weren’t bad last season (3.76 ERA). He’s not worth drafting in standard mixed leagues, but can be considered in deeper formats. Norris has a high K rate, which may be a tease. Bedard probably wasn’t as bad as last year’s 5.01 ERA suggested, while Humber could be a low-end AL-only starter, even after posting a 6.44 ERA with the White Sox. No more perfect games from him, though.

Veras figures to be the Opening Day closer, and if a manager says a guy is going to get saves, you should draft him. However, Veras’ history of bad control suggests that he’ll be a risky bet to keep his job. Also, if he does pitch well for a few months, you can be pretty sure that the rebuilding Astros will flip him for a prospect as fast as they can. If you pick Veras, be prepared to dip into the free-agent pool for more saves at some point (which you should be doing, anyway).

The internal candidates to replace Veras if/when there’s a change are Hector Ambriz, Rhiner Cruz and prospect Jarred Cosart. Some scouts think Cosart will become a reliever at some point, and since GM Jeff Luhnow floated that very possibility at the Winter Meetings, he’s the guy to keep an eye on. The Astros’ save situation could be a big mess, though.

TEAM PREVIEWS

TEAM PREVIEWS

A complete look at all 30 MLB teams with fantasy advice and projections.

Big questions:


Who’s the best fantasy hitter on this team?

The 5’5” Altuve, by a lot. He’s a top 100 player in the FOXSports.com composite rankings, and could be a .300, 10-homer, 40-steal guy if he improves just a bit at age 23. As a fellow short guy, I feel obliged to draft him.

Is anyone else in the lineup worth drafting in standard mixed leagues?

Castro, if you’d like to avoid the usual gaggle of 20-homer backup fantasy catchers with terrible batting averages. It’s also feasible to take a flier on Greene if you’re prepared to live with the bad BA and cut him if things don’t go well.

Should we stop waiting for Norris to get better?

What’s that? You weren’t waiting? Well, some people might be. Norris’ strikeout rate is still interesting, but it’s not great, his control improvement stalled last season, and he gives up too many home runs. Still, with just a little luck, he could be a nice, in-season pickup. Watch him. Sleeper: Lyles struggled to a 5.09 ERA last season, but he was 21 years old, so what did you expect? By throwing strikes and getting lots of ground balls, Lyles gives you some things to like. He won’t be a finished product at age 22, but he should get a little better. Think about him, AL-only owners.

Top prospects

Jonathan Singleton, 1B – Singleton hit 21 homers with an .893 OPS at age 21 in Double A last season – that’s impressive. He’s a future slugger who should take Wallace’s spot in the lineup by Opening Day 2014, if not sooner.

Carlos Correa, SS – Correa was drafted first overall last year, and turned 18 in September. He’s probably three years away from Houston, but is reportedly loaded with talent.

Delino Deshields Jr., 2B – DeShields struggled a bit at the plate after a promotion to high-A ball last season, but he turned 20 in August, so that’s not such a big deal. Also, HE STOLE 102 BASES. Two or three years from now, he could make some major fantasy impact.

George Springer, OF – Springer had 24 homers and 32 steals between A ball and Double A in 2012, but he strikes out a ton. However, some improvement this season could mean a starting job and some immediate fantasy impact in 2014. Springer is 23, so we should know about him one way or the other pretty soon.

Jarred Cosart, SP/RP – Mentioned above. Could spend all season in the minors as a starter, or close for the big club by midseason. His potential fantasy impact probably lies as a reliever.

Tagged: Astros, Carlos Pena, Erik Bedard, Jose Veras, Philip Humber, Fernando Martinez, Tyler Greene, Jason Castro, Chris Carter, Bud Norris, Brett Wallace

More Stories From John Halpin

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

Trending Now

MLB Videos

McAllister on performance after Indians' win Posted: Apr 17, 2014
Zach McAllister comments on his play after the Indians' win over the Tigers.

Ausmus talks Tigers' loss Posted: Apr 17, 2014
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus comments on Torii Hunter's bunting issues after Detro...

Marlins dropped by Nats Posted: Apr 17, 2014
Mike Redmond gives his take on the loss to Washington.

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..