Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fantasy Baseball: Who are the Houston Astros

The Houston Astros have been a major league franchise for 50 seasons now and unfortunately for many of those seasons the team has not been in contention. The team finally turned things around in 2015 as they won the American League’s second Wild Card and went on to beat the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Round. While Houston couldn’t manage to get past the American League Division Series the team’s season was still considered a success by many leading the ownership to add pieces and payroll as they fine-tuned the 2016 version of the club for another run at the postseason. Houston is here to stay in the American League West Division race but can their players help you sit atop your fantasy league this coming season? With a little help, sure they can.

You know the big names that will help any team win their fantasy leagues, names like Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel and Jose Altuve, but anyone who is serious about fantasy sports knows the league winners tend to win the later rounds as well. Anyone can do their homework and pick through the first 10 rounds or so when the names are recognizable and the talent is plentiful but it’s the later picks and the sleeper picks that tend to make all the difference. Names like Ken Giles, Mike Fiers and first base prospect A.J. Reed.

Ken Giles is the new Houston closer and with a dominant starting staff and an offense that lacks explosive power he should get acclimated to pitching in save situations inside Minute Maid Park early and often in 2016. Giles took over midway through the 2015 season as the closer in Philadelphia and dazzled with 15 saves and 87 strikeouts in 70 innings. Giles, assuming health, seems like a shoe-in for 30-40 saves and 90 or so strikeouts in 2016.

Mike Fiers is an underrated and under-appreciated part of the Houston Astros pitching staff. Sure many were wondering if and how he could replicate his 2.13 ERA from the 2014 season, and spoiler alert he did not as he took a step back down closer to Earth in 2015, but despite a bump in ERA his strikeout numbers remained steady. Fiers is one of those pitchers that you won’t hear anything about and before you know it he’s got seven or eight wins before the All Star break. Fiers is definitely a late-round sleeper pick but one you should definitely look into if you need pure wins and strikeouts, he won’t help much elsewhere in my opinion.

Finally you have the Astros top first base prospect A.J. Reed. Reed was the home run king of the minor leagues in 2015 and will get a serious look in spring training this season. Houston does not seem terribly enamored with current first baseman Jon Singleton and could plug Reed into the everyday lineup with a strong and powerful, pun intended, spring training camp. He may be worth the pick with one of your last picks just in case he makes the team. He has legitimate 20-30 home run power in the majors and will easily reach those goals in my opinion if he makes the team out of camp. If he doesn’t he can easily be stashed away on your roster or cut for another player of need without blinking an eye.

That’s it, those are your Houston Astros. Of course you take Altuve and Keuchel if you can and you probably take Correa as well despite his troubling signs at the plate from last season but these three men may help you in the later rounds of your draft. I hope this bit of information helps you dominate your draft lobbies!

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