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Houston Astros 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Houston Astros 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Houston Astros 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

The Astros' championship window is narrowing, not closing. But their days as a superteam will end in 2021, especially in the wake of Justin Verlander's elbow injury and the departure of George Springer in free agency. Their stout position player core is still spearheaded by Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa, while the rotation will be fronted by Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., and Framber Valdez. Correa, McCullers, and Greinke are free agents following 2021, inviting one to wonder whether this season may be Houston's last best chance at a second World Series title. To win it, unproven players must fill outfield vacancies, and young pitchers who debuted last season must sustain their success.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Astros

“People thought they dodged a bullet by getting to play without fans, but in some ways it just kind of drags out this sign-stealing thing. Fans don't forget, and they can't wait to make life miserable for Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and Yuli Gurriel. Those guys already seemed miserable, though; they seemed to play flat, discouraged, like they were missing the arrogance and cockiness that had given them that extra gear in the past. They found it in the playoffs, though, and that makes me pretty confident that they're not done just yet. Even without Justin Verlander, they've got a rotation with some staying power. Framber Valdez has learned to attack the zone, and he was a top-tier guy in October. I really like Jose Urquidy — he works at a good pace and disguises that changeup really well. They've got three big guys in their free agent years: Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers in the rotation, and Correa at shortstop. That sets this up as maybe the last run for this group. But for one more year, at least, I think they're still a force.”

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Beyond the Box Score

Back With a Bang Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who is now managing the Detroit Tigers, is scheduled to return to Minute Maid Park during the Astros' first homestand of the 2021 regular season. The fans in Houston still adore Hinch, who left town with the highest winning percentage in franchise history. Hinch will be recognized and loudly applauded at Minute Maid, which will perhaps be an awkward scene given the manner in which he departed. Hinch and former general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired in January for condoning the 2017 team's electronic sign-stealing — most of which occurred inside Minute Maid Park.

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2021 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Sugar Land Life 

Jim Crane is fulfilling one of his stated objectives since buying the Astros in 2011: owning every team that is affiliated with the franchise. To that end, he purchased an ownership stake in the Sugar Land Skeeters, a former independent baseball team that is now Houston's Triple-A affiliate. Crane and the Astros now own three of their four minor league affiliates — Sugar Land, Double-A Corpus Christi, and Low-A Fayetteville. The only one missing is High-A Asheville. Sugar Land is only 22 miles from Minute Maid Park, making it one of the shortest distances between a parent club and its affiliate in the sport.

Gary Gets Back Third-base coach Gary Pettis is expected to be ready for the 2021 season after he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma — a form of blood cancer — in September. Pettis took a leave of absence, making only two appearances during the rest of the regular season, though he did make a surprise appearance at Petco Park during the ALCS after he completed some of his treatment. Pettis, a 62-year-old former five-time Gold Glover, is expected to make a full recovery, according to the Astros.

Dusty's Destiny Dusty Baker is missing only two things from his Hall of Fame managerial resume, both of which he would love to earn this season — a World Series title and a 2,000th career managerial win. Baker enters 2021 — his final year under contract — 108 wins away from 2,000. Only 11 other managers have produced 2,000 career wins. The 10 who are eligible are in the Hall of Fame. Baker, 71, will assess his health and morale after the 2021 season before deciding whether to pursue another year of managing. Winning a World Series would probably answer the question quickly, though.

Projected Lineup


2B    Jose Altuve (R)

3B    Alex Bregman (R)

LF    Michael Brantley (L)

DH   Yordan Alvarez (L)

SS    Carlos Correa (R)

RF    Kyle Tucker (L)

1B    Yuli Gurriel (R)

CF    Myles Straw (R)

C     Jason Castro (L)


UT    Aledmys Diaz (R)

INF   Abraham Toro (S)

C      Martin Maldonado (R)

OF    Chas McCormick (R)


RHP    Zack Greinke

RHP    Lance McCullers Jr.

RHP    Jake Odorizzi

RHP    Cristian Javier

RHP    Jose Urquidy


RHP    Ryan Pressly (C)

RHP    Pedro Baez

RHP    Ryne Stanek

RHP    Enoli Paredes

RHP    Joe Smith

RHP    Josh James

LHP    Blake Taylor

LHP    Brooks Raley

2021 Prediction: 1st in AL West

(Carlos Correa photo courtesy of @astros)