1. WHILE The Mets, Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins have hogged the spotlight so far in the 2022 campaign, the Houston Astros have gone under the radar and, without much fuss, remain at the top of the food chain. Despite the regrets, and the fact that many fans still boo them for the notorious sign-stealing scandal in 2017, something unheard of when there have been many players who have declared that all teams use technology to take advantage, the Astros they have managed to continue dominating the Western division of the American League and exhibit -until the end of this column- the third best balance in all of baseball (29-16), tied with the Milwaukee Brewers, and only behind the Yankees (32-13) and Los Angeles Dodgers (30-14).
2. DOESN’T MATTER that the Astros have lost Carlos Correa in free agency. Those who thought that the team would collapse were wrong. To Correa’s substitute, the Dominican Jeremy Pena, his pulse has not trembled due to responsibility. In fact, the 24-year-old has a .293 AVE/.347 OBP/.504 SLUG/.851 OPS offensive line, which includes seven home runs, 22 RBIs and 2.4 WAR, numbers that put him in the running for a spot in the midseason All-Star Game and a chance to contend for Rookie of the Year. To give you a more realistic perspective of the value Peña has brought to the Astros, Carlos Correa presents a .275/.346/.400/.746 offensive line, along with 2 homers, 15 RBIs and 1.1 WAR. In all respects, Pena’s offensive production has been far more effective than his predecessor’s in Houston.
3. AND NOT TO LOSE tenderness, I let them know that the Astros, except for Correa’s departure, are practically the same team that reached the last World Series and that has been in three Fall Classics in five years. Substitute Peña for Correa in the lineup and you’ll have eight of the nine starters in 2021. Certainly. Michael Brantley (35 years), yuli gurriel (38*) and Martin Maldonado (35) are one year older, but the rest also have one more year of experience: Kyle Tucker (25), Yordan Alvarez (25*), Jose Siri (26), Chas McCormick (27), alex bregman (28) and Jose Altuve (32). This last situation also applies to launchers: Framber Valdez (28), Christian Xavier (25), Jose Urquidy (26) and Luis Garcia they took over the rotation in 2021 and now have a leader, Justin Verlander, who at 39 years old seems to be like wine. His flawless return from Tommy John surgery has been the team’s best offseason signing. Word of advice: Don’t downplay these Astros, they have the stuff to give Dusty Baker the ultimate managerial honor: winning the World Series.
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La Novena: Of challenges in social networks, cinema… and without Correa there is paradise