The Houston Astros are not a good baseball team. As with all bad teams, you can find players that have been overlooked and are undervalued, and the Astros have players that will contribute to your fantasy baseball team’s success.
The Astros won 51 games last season. Their record easily qualified them as the worst team in baseball. The Astros are the laughing stock of baseball right now but their fortunes will take a turn for the better beginning this season.
General Manger Jeff Lunhow is building the franchise through drafting and trades for prospects. With his guidance, the St. Louis Cardinals won two world championships before he arrived in Houston.
Both in terms of current guys and future prospects, the cupboard is not totally bare from a fantasy baseball standpoint either.
Projected 2014 Astros Offense
|1. Dexter Fowler||CF||28||S||472||76||10||51||15||.261|
|2. Jose Altuve||2B||24||R||605||73||6||47||33||.286|
|3. Jason Castro||C||27||L||464||61||15||49||2||.258|
|4. Chris Carter||DH||27||R||497||71||30||79||2||.225|
|5. Brett Wallace||1B||27||L||408||49||17||47||1||.250|
|6. Robbie Grossman||LF||24||S||465||57||8||47||14||.265|
|7. Matt Dominguez||3B||24||R||511||54||19||62||6||.250|
|8. L.J. Hoes||RF||24||R||405||55||3||39||15||.259|
|9. Jonathan Villar||SS||23||S||358||46||3||29||27||.242|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Dexter Fowler, Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, Chris Carter
– Fowler: Acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies in November, Dexter Fowler He is no stranger to fantasy baseball circles. Every year since 2008 he has been talked of as a player who possesses the kind of talent to become a fantasy star.
He hasn’t really lived up to all of the lofty expectations. He is not a great lead off hitter but he does have some upside. He will struggle to hit .270 and his power may get him into the double digits, but nothing more.
You want Fowler because of his speed. I believe his stolen bases will increase and you could see a number in the mid-20’s for this season. Jose Altuve and Jason Castro are excellent contact hitters hitting behind him and there will be ample amounts of opportunities for him to run.
He scored 71 runs for the Colorado Rockies last season. I believe you could see something in the low 80’s for the 2014 season. For this to happen he needs to increase his OBP above the .269 he showed last year.
He can be a good 5th outfielder for your roster and if things go the right way he could prove to be a very smart pick up.
– Altuve: Jose Altuve is seen as the player a fantasy owner wants to draft from the Houston Astros. He plays a shallow second base position, he hits for a good average and he steals bases.
When you are drafting and you notice you need to draft someone that will pad your teams stolen base totals, Jose Altuve is an excellent choice. He stole 35 bases last season and you should expect something close to that number going into next year.
He is not going to score a lot of runs out of the two-hole for the Astros, so make sure you have other run producing players in your lineup. I feel that he could surpass 70 runs this season, as the projections show. He produced 80 runs two years ago and I really like Jason Castro hitting behind him in 2014 to help his cause.
Jose Altuve is an underrated player going into this year’s draft. He will put up a very good average in the mid .280’s to go along with 30+ stolen bases and a good amount of runs. Playing in Houston, other fantasy owners won’t rate him as highly as they should.
– Castro: Jason Castro hit 18 homeruns last season that helped him earn his first All-Star Game appearance. Before last season he had not hit more then 10 homeruns at the professional level. I believe his power continues to increase going forward.
He hit .276 that was helped along with a .351 BABIP. His average might come down ten points next season. He is a good contact hitter for a catcher. His ISO increased to .209 last year. As his ISO increases his fantasy value will increase as well. He is a big reason why I think Fowler and Altuve increase their run production this season.
Jason Castro is another player that might drop a round or two because he plays on a bad team. He is an excellent choice for your catcher position. If the top names are off the board and he is available you should take him. He hasn’t reached his full potential and I expect even better numbers in the year’s to come.
– Carter: Lets get this out of the way first. Chris Carter is a strikeout machine. His K% at 36.9% is the highest total in baseball history.
He has the kind of power that all of the elite homerun hitters possess. You will see him hit 30+ homeruns this season. His problem at the major league level has been his batting average.
He had batting averages between .255 and .285 in the minor leagues. He can’t break .240 at the major league level. If he could find some luck and increase his BABIP and raise his average to .260 he would easily hit 40+ homeruns and become a fantasy baseball stud.
As it stands right now expect tremendous power and a decent amount of RBI’s. If he can make better contact and fix some holes in his swing he can become a huge fantasy asset.
Projected 2014 Astros Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Option: Brad Peacock
From a fantasy baseball standpoint Houston only has one starting pitcher that can be fantasy relevant for 2014. Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart and Brett Oberholtzer either have high career ERA’s or low strikeout percentages so I will not focus on them. However, we will focus on the projected Houston Astros 4th starter Brad Peacock.
– Peacock: Brad Peacock is one of the most erratic young pitchers in all of baseball. He has the talent to become an excellent major league pitcher. He also is so inconsistent he could be out of baseball in three years.
He had a 2.73 ERA at AAA last season. He was promoted to Houston and posted an ERA of 5.18 through 14 starts. These kinds of swings have plagued him throughout his career. He hasn’t found a way to consistently harness his control for very long.
I honestly don’t know what Brad Peacock will do next season. I do know he strikes out a batter an inning and has an excellent fastball. He has the kind of talent to pitch a very dominant game. He also has the kind of control issues to not make it out of the first three innings.
Pay attention to how he pitches in spring training. If he pitches well during spring training pick him up off the waiver wire after your draft and monitor his progress the first few starts of the season. He could be a very large diamond in the rough or he could be quick waiver wire fodder.
– Closer situation: No one knows who the Astros closer will be on Opening Day. Jesse Crain was signed as a possible closer but he has never filled that capacity for a team before. He is also coming off of shoulder surgery and has yet to begin his throwing program.
Chad Qualls will probably be the closer at the start of the season. Does he stay in that role the entire year is a large question looming over the Houston Astros bullpen?
It is entirely possible they have a closer by committee situation until manager Bo Porter decides on a permanent arm in the 9th inning. If you are smart you can get Chad Qualls in the late rounds of your draft and pick up Jesse Crain off of the waiver wire. The situation is up in the air at this point.
- Fantasy Star: Jose Altuve
His second base eligibility with his stolen base potential is too much to pass up. He stats across the board should increase as Jose Altuve enters his third season. A lot of owners will overlook him but there will some savvy individual in your league who is waiting for the opportunity to draft him. Make sure it is you.
- Fantasy Bust: N/A
- Fantasy Prospects: George Springer & Jonathan Singleton
Profiled here, if George Springer is given an opportunity out of spring training he will contend for Rookie of the Year honors. He has all the tools to become an all-star caliber player in the future.
He has the potential to hit fifteen homeruns and steal fifteen stolen bases at the very least in his first season in Houston. If Springer can gain enough at-bats you could see those numbers increase substantially.
Get him onto your roster by any means possible. He could pay huge dividends for your team as early as this season.
Prior to the 2013 season Jonathan Singleton was the top ranked first base prospect by Baseball America. He served a fifty game suspension for recreational drug use and it delayed his debut in Houston.
He was a busy man in the Puerto Rico winter league this offseason. He led the league in homeruns, total bases and OPS. You could very well see him make the team out of spring training. Keep an eye on him during spring training.
- Final Thoughts
The Houston Astros have one of the deepest minor league systems in baseball. It has been decades since Houston has had as much future talent at one time as they do right now. In fact, you would have to go back to the late 1960’s to find a minor league system that could equal what they have right now.
You will see the first of their minor league prospects make major contributions in 2014.
- Fantasy Baseball Second Base Player Profiles: Jose Altuve
- Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch: George Springer
- MLB Trades: Fantasy Pros & Cons of Dexter Fowler Trade to Astros