I’ve always been told if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. But if I did that I’d be hard pressed to find 10 Astros worth discussing in terms of fantasy baseball.
This is largely a low average, decent power type team that'll struggle to score runs and whose players largely can be ignored on draft day. Still there are some players worth grabbing, and outside of Jose Altuve, most should be available cheaply.
Here are 10 to watch in 2013.
Jose Altuve (2B): The only Astro who should definitely be drafted is Altuve, who offers a nice mixture of average and speed. He’ll lead off and get to run a lot for a team that will need to generate runs anyway it can. Thirty-five to 45 steals and a .280 average is what you are paying for, but this time 80 runs scored might be hard to come by.
Jose Veras (CL): The best thing to recommend him is that he’s been named the Astros closer, and that even closers on bad teams get saves. Provided of course that he can keep the job. Wesley Wright is almost certainly a better pitcher, but being a lefty, bias is against him taking the job until Veras finishes imploding. Maybe Veras can handle the work, but it’s hard to imagine that a guy who walks roughly five batters per nine can hold the job no matter how many strikeouts he can get.
Bud Norris (SP): One of the few Astros worth a spot on most fantasy rosters, Norris could be an upper tier starter on a better team. He strikes out just under a batter per inning, has a strong underlying skill set and will be cheap in many fantasy drafts, mainly because he was unlucky last year and posted an ERA over 0.5 runs higher than his xERA. Playing for the Astros will do his win totals no favors, but even in Houston the 28 year old has some upside.
Lucas Harrell (SP): Harrell isn’t a bad pitcher and he has some upside. An extreme groundball pitcher, he’s shown slow but steady improvement in walk rate, command and dominance since reaching the majors. He won’t strike out too many, and he plays for a bad team so wins will be few and far between, but he had a 3.76 ERA last year and could build on that. A step forward isn’t out of the question.
Jason Castro (C): He’ll be cheap, has upside and possesses double digit power. Of course he’s a career .113 hitter against lefties, but still managed to hit .257 last year. Four hundred ABs should equal 10 home runs, but injuries have derailed him in the past.
Chris Carter (OF): Carter has value as a cheap source of home runs, a la Adam Dunn, but at this point offers little else. He hit 16 last year in just 218 ABs while playing for Oakland and he should end up with more ABs while in a much better hitters park. Average will be a concern, but the potential for 25 home runs is there.
Brett Wallace (1B): At age 26, Wallace is one of the few Astros with some real upside. The average he was so hyped for as a rookie has never come. But he managed to hit nine home runs with a .253 average last year in just 229 ABs and he has the potential to build on that. He’ll get RBI chances, what few of them there may be, but even with all of that he’s a lower end option at his position.
Tyler Green (2B/SS): If you’ve got the potential to platoon middle infielders, Green holds some value if you can start him only against lefties, though to be fair, even his success there is a little suspect since he managed to hit .280 off them last year while his previous best against them was .209. That said, he went 11-12 in just 305 ABs but had a miserable average (.227) and at age 29, there probably isn’t any upside.
Justin Maxwell (OF): On any other team, Maxwell would be a platoon player, and he could end up as one here in Houston as well. He hits lefties well, but righties continue to baffle him at the plate. Still if you can tolerate a sub .250 average he offers true 20-20 potential, and if he could figure out right handers the potential is much higher.
Rick Ankiel (OF): If he can make the Astros squad Ankiel will fit right in as a all power, no average kind of player. He might -- and that's a bit might -- still have 15-18 home run power, but like many of the ‘Stros he’s pretty much a player to avoid except in the deepest of leagues.