5 candidates for improvement in 2022
The Houston Astros had a strong 2021 despite being two games short of winning the World Series and many individual players had great seasons.
Even though some Astros have had standout seasons, there is room for improvement, as there always is.
In this article, we take a look at five Astros who are primed for improvement in 2022. The numbers below are taken from 2021 actual numbers for each player and Baseball Savant’s expected numbers.
Tucker finished 2021 batting .294 with a .381 wOBA, slugging .557 with 30 homers and 92 RBI, but there’s still room for improvement, especially if you believe in advanced metrics.
Tucker’s advanced numbers for 2021 included an xBA of 0.307 (+0.013), xSLG of 0.580 (+0.23) and xwOBA of 0.399 (+0.18).
If Tucker improves in all three categories, it’s likely his home run and RBI outings would also increase and the 25-year-old would move closer to his potential.
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I think most people would agree that Alvarez can improve despite having 33 homers, 104 RBI, a .531 average and a .369 wOBA. Alvarez’s expected numbers from 2021 show a similar batting average, but a 39-point higher expected slugging percentage and a 20-point higher xwOBA.
Forty home runs and 110 RBIs aren’t out of the question if Alvarez, who turns 25 in June, hits those expected numbers in 2022.
In fact, if Alvarez had hit 40 homers in 2021, his slugging percentage would still be lower than his expected slugging percentage, so 40 homers is not an outrageous prediction.
The only pitcher on this list, Maton struggled to come from Cleveland at the trade deadline but was nearly perfect in the playoffs. Maton’s actual numbers from 2021 versus his expected stats are a study in “what could have been.”
Opponents hit .256 against Maton, while xBA was .209 (+.047), slugging was .425, while xSLG was .342 (+.083), wOBA .335 against xwOBA’s .295 (+.040) and ERA of 4.73 against xERA of 3.68 (+1.05).
Maton was the only Astros qualified pitcher with an actual ERA higher than his expected ERA and the 1.05 number is the 17th highest in all of MLB.
Is Maton the struggling pitcher we saw during the regular season or the stud we saw in October? This is the question that arises in 2022.
Asking Michael Brantley to improve his batting average from last season’s .311 campaign seems like a reach, especially since Brantley turns 35 in May.
That said, Brantley only hit 8 home runs on 417 slugs and his .437 slugging percentage was 29 points below his xSLG of .466 and I would expect a related increase in RBI which Brantley didn’t have. than 47 in 2021.
Brantley had 90 RBI in 2019, but he’s spent this season mostly hitting third and fourth, instead of second in 2021. He won’t get 90 RBI in second, but 60 isn’t out of the question. question.
Bear with me on this one, as the potential improvements are incremental, but could be significant. Every Astros fan knows Maldonado struggled at home plate in 2021 and many have been calling for a change of position heading into this season.
Maldonado’s expected numbers show the potential increase of 11 points in batting average, 12 points in slugging and 10 points in xwOBA.
While those numbers will leave Maldonado well below league averages in all of those categories, they are an improvement over last season and Maldonado is down .212/.290./.298 for his career.