Here are the top five fantasy baseball questions facing theÂ Houston Astros.
5. Can Jose Altuve get 50 steals? Altuve is a hot commodity and at age 23 looks like the second coming of Chuck Knoblauch, in a good way. He increased his plate skills across the board in 2012, so 2013 may end up with him challenging for a batting title. We do not know what the manager will do, which makes his SBO% an open question, but there is no reason he cannot get 50 steals and some MVP votes to boot.
4. Will any pitcher on the staff generate a positive value? Well, the odds are that they will, but if you pick anyone other than Bud Norris you are flipping a coin. You can go seven deep in the rotation and may not get more than $10 aggregate from the whole bunch. And the bullpen isnâ€™t any better.
3. Can Jason Castro revive his career? Donâ€™t look now but Castro looks to me like a full-fledged breakout candidate. Like Altuve, he improved in virtually every plate skill metric, his .738 OPS is pretty decent for a catcher, and has a good enough batting eye that he can hit .270. While we wouldnâ€™t take even money on the proposition, Castro could be a $10 catcher and even a mixed league #1 catcher.
2. Will Bud Norris get 200 Kâ€™s? You can count on a K/9 close to 9.0, at a minimum. But he needs to improve his control if he is going to get over 200 IP. In the last two years Norris walked 3.4 and 3.5 per nine innings, so that seems like a pretty good floor. One of our credos is that the easiest thing for inexperienced pitchers to do is to improve their BB rates. And we have a brand new administration in the organization that will be using every advanced metric under the sun to improve their performance. It will not take much for Norris to put up over 200 Kâ€™s, perhaps even 220 or more.
1. Can Carlos Pena rebound? Pena is either going to rebound or 2013 will be his last year in the majors. His skill set has been on the wane since 2009, and now his power is essentially below average. Now an old 35, it is hard to find a positive. But the park will help, the administration brought him in for a reason, they are a lot smarter than you or me, and Pena still walks a ton. If the team decides his AB total versus lefties will be less than 10, it will do wonders.