Friday, November 26, 2010

The Perfect Pickup: Houston Astros

The Houston Astros will be looking to improve on the anemic offense they ran out in 2010. Their 608 total runs tied them for third to last in baseball with the Orioles, and their .115 ISO was better than only the Mariners. After El Caballo’s subpar season, the Astros should be looking to add an outfielder with some power, and this year’s corner outfield crop offers several attractive options. Some will undoubtedly fall through the cracks, and could provide great value buys for Houston.

For me, the best option could end up being Pat Burrell. “Pat the Bat” is 34, so he may still have some strong baseball in him. He’ll likely get lost in a relatively strong corner outfield free agent class, so he could be on the cheap side, and he put up 2.7 WAR in 96 games with the World Champion San Francisco Giants after being released by the Rays. He had 18 home runs with the Giants, so he could provide a sorely needed dose of power. He was pretty bad in his season and a bit with the Rays (-0.6 WAR in 146 total games between 2009 and 2010), but I believe in his resurgence. His BABIP and HR/FB were both in line with his career totals in his time with the Giants. He’s taken a bit of a dip in his line drive rate, as last season was his worst career total, but if he can get that more in line with his career total, he could have even more success next season. Burrell also had the best defensive season of his career last year, with a 4.9 UZR in left. I’d be surprised if that sticks, but if he can be a close-to-average defender, his offense can make him a valuable asset to a potential employer. Given that he will likely be fairly inexpensive both in terms of dollars and years, Burrell could be a great fit for the ‘Stros.

There will likely be several attractive options for the Astros, but they should be looking to pick up a corner outfielder with some power on the cheap. In this year’s class, the option that best fits that description may very well be Pat Burrell. That makes Burrell the Astros’ Perfect Pickup.

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