At the start of the 2016 season, many experts picked the Astros to win the World Series. 2016 did not go as planned for Houston. After a promising 2015 season, that included a playoff birth, the Astros failed to make the playoffs in 2016. Obviously unhappy with that result, Houston’s front office decided to make a couple big moves.
Yesterday, the Astros acquired former Braves and Yankee catcher Brian McCann for cash and two prospects (Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman). The deal was announced on Twitter by Yankees’ PR. The Astros were in need of a catcher considering Jason Castro, their starting catcher for the past four seasons, is a free agent.
The Astros also went and signed outfielder Josh Reddick according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Reddick will most likely fill the role of Colby Rasmus who is most likely not re-signing with the Astros. Josh Reddick is a better overall player than Rasmus so this is a solid move for their team.
The problem with these moves is their hitting ability. Reddick and McCann will both bring veteran leadership to the clubhouse but, the two players do not hit for average all that well. The Astros ranked 24th in the MLB last season in team batting average and the McCann / Reddick combination may not help the cause. Both are upgrades over the players they had last season occupying those positions but, the Astros need players who make contact and get on base.
The Astros batters led the league in strikeouts last season and only mustered a .319 on base percentage. Meanwhile, Reddick and McCann have never hit that high for average or end the season with high OBPs. Reddick is a career .255 hitter with a .316 OBP with some pop in his bat. As I said earlier, Reddick is a better player than Rasmus but the Astros did not upgrade all that much at the position. McCann on the other hand used to be a terrific hitter. Notice I said, “used to be”. With the Braves early in his career, McCann consistently hit over 20 home runs and even hit .333 in his first full season. McCann still has the power but, his average has dipped significantly. Since 2012, McCann has only hit above .250 one time. McCann will be replacing Castro who hit an atrocious .210 last year. So McCann will be an upgrade because of how bad Castro was last season offensively.
I do not believe these two players can get the Astro’s over the hump this season. They replaced good fielding, low average, low OBP players with good fielding, low average, low OBP players. The latter just a little bit better than the former. The potential change from 2016 to 2017 does not fall in the hands of Josh Reddick and Brian McCann. The pressure is on Dallas Kuechel to try and repeat his 2015 CY Young season, Carlos Correa to become the MVP candidate people expected in 2016, rookie Alex Bregman to play to his potential, and the Cuban “prospect” Yulieski Gurriel to produce at the age of 32. Expect the Astros to be closer to their 2015 selves but, the moves to get McCann and Reddick will not be the reason.