MLB Fantasy Breakdown: Houston Astros

by Bill M on March 19, 2014 · 0 comments

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NOTE: The MLB team write-ups are based on my preparation for my fantasy season rather than trying to breakdown teams with a focus on actual MLB.  The main fantasy format I play is Scoresheet baseball, which is a simulation service, so skills are more important that counting numbers for me.  But, a good player is a good player so the info should translate well to any format.  I hope you enjoy!

HOUSTON ASTROS

TARGET: Jason Castro

MID-RANGE: Jose Altuve, Dexter Fowler, Scott Feldman, Jared Cosart (dynasty)

END GAME: Jonathan Villar, Chad Qualls

I haven’t written much about the teams, but I have to mention that the Astros have been in a rebuilding plan that includes being terrible at the major league level to ensure the most money in the draft.  The other teams are starting to get pissed about it, but until MLB steps in and actually does something and/or the top prospects they have get up and start winning, the front office is going to keep putting garbage on the field in Houston.

INFIELD

Jason Castro finally lived up to the hype, or maybe even outperformed the expectations in 2013.  I don’t remember that he was supposed to have 18 HR power, but it was pretty well supported.  He has some contact issues striking out 30% of the time, but he has a healthy 10% walk rate.  I think he’s a definite target now and at just 27 for the future.  I have Jose Altuve lower than most because I don’t believe in the bat.  His OBA declined to 0.316 which I do think is real, and while he stole 35 bases, his other speed indicators show a big decline on the way.  He also has a terrible defensive range in Scoresheet.  I’m definitely going to let someone else take him.  Jonathan Villar might be undersold here as an end game pick because his speed is real.  His MLB 2013 was a small sample (210 at bats), but his 18 steals were 100% supported by his speed indicators.  He won’t even the offensive player Altuve is, but he plays shortstop and you can get him A LOT cheaper.  Matt Dominguez is a defense first 3B with a little power, but worth little in fantasy.  1B is a wasteland platoon of Chris Carter on the short side and Jesus Guzman in the short side.  Guzman is probably going to end up winning more playing time and being well below replacement for a 1B.

OUTFIELD/DH

Dexter Fowler came over from the Rockies at a perceived discount…think the Rox knew something we don’t?  Health is his primary challenge, and while he doesn’t have a bunch of DL time on his resume, he seems to be day-to-day more than he is on the field.  He’s long (6’4”), rangy, and very athletic, so he always seems on the verge of a power/speed breakout.  He has great plate patience (13% career walk rate) translating to a career 0.362 OBA.  There really is a lot to like, but like I said, the Rox intense commitment to moving him makes me nervous.  L.J. Hoes has a fantastic name, and has some OBA from the minors (0.366), but he has no power and just a little speed, so I can’t recommend him in any way.  DH/1B/OF Marc Krauss was a favorite of mine in the lower minors because he has serious power and walked a least a little.  His hit tool was always fringy, however, and it looks like he’s going to end up a quad-A guy.  Robbie Grossman was drafted by the Pirates, so I know about bit about his past.  I’m not going to waste any more of your time with it or his lack of value in fantasy.

ROTATION

Scott Feldman was signed to anchor the staff for a few years this offseason, and while he’ll be their #1 he’s NOT an Ace.  He keeps the ball on the ground (47%), and has developed decent command in recent seasons, but his margin for error is small (6.5 K/9).  He’s a #5 at best in Scoresheet, probably a backup.  Jarred Cosart throws a cutter very hard (94.5 MPH) and very often (69%).  His 1.95 ERA in 10 MLB starts last year was a mirage.  He also keeps it on the ground (55%), but his 0.9 K/BB rate is going to kill him eventually.  You can get away with not missing bats when you have his kind of stuff, but you can’t when you walk over 5 per 9 IP.  His talent makes him a dynasty mid-range pick, but expect a roller coaster until he reins in the walks.  I’ve seen some combination of about 7 names occupying the last three spots in the rotation, and you should avoid all of them.

BULLPEN

Veteran Chad Qualls was brought back to be the closer, and he is coming off a great comeback season.  Unfortunately, Houston won’t win enough to make him valuable in Roto, but he can have some value in low leverage spots for a Scoresheet team.  There’s nothing else to see here.

Reach me on Twitter @wjm37 and on email at wjm37_jds@outlook.com

Sites used in research: Baseball Prospectus, Baseball HQ, Baseball America, MLB Depth Charts, BrooksBaseball, Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs

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