This offseason I'm going to focus on my projections above anything else. I'll be working my way through team-by-team, worst regular season record to best record. So that means we start with the newest addition to the American League, the Houston Astros.
Jed Lowrie – SS – HOU
2013 Age: 29 – Splits: Better as RHB
2013 Projection: .257/.339/.442, 17 HR, 45 RBI, 47 R, 2 SB
After coming over in a preseason trade between the Astros and Red Sox, Lowrie made sure he got on the good side of Houston's fans hitting .297/.384/.422 in April followed by .275/.339/.520 with six home runs in May. However, his stats began to fall off in June before a July ankle injury threw the rest of his season off kilter. Lowrie showed almost no power once returning to action, so we can make the assumption that a healthy Lowrie could hit 20-plus home runs over a full season. The problem in projecting that outcome is that Lowrie has just never been able to stay healthy over the course of a baseball season. AVG wise, Lowrie simply hits too many fly balls (50-percent for his career) and struggles from the left side of the plate.
Upside: .270/.360, 20-25 HR
Downside: .240/.330, around 15 HR…or major time missed with injury.
Justin Maxwell – OF – HOU
2013 Age: 29 – Splits: Better vs LHP, but small MLB sample size
2013 Projection: .210/.292/.453, 15 HR, 42 RBI, 35 R, 0 SB
Notes: 2012 power output was nice, and might leave some to believe that 25-plus home runs in 2013 is possible. Don't buy the hype. Huge strikeout and whiff rates leave no hope for AVG/OBP improvement. A regression in stats and playing time is more likely.
Upside: .240/.320, 20-25 HR
Downside: Becomes a fourth outfielder.
Jose Altuve – 2B – HOU
2013 Age: 23 – Splits: Crushes lefties, needs to improve vs RHP
2013 Projection: .295/.346/.422, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 82 R, 34 SB
Notes: 2012 was an extremely solid full-season debut for Altuve, who, despite his size limitations, continues to progress at each level. He should be able to maintain in the AVG/OBP categories since he crushes lefties and has a line-drive/ground ball approach with plus speed. He'll never be a big power threat, but there is room for a little progression in that category.
Upside: .310/.360, 15 HR, 40 SB
Downside: .285/.320, 5 HR, 25 SB