Make some room

Why the roster expansion is significant for the 2018 Astros

Tyler White is earning his spot on the Astros' roster. Houston Astros/Facebook

This summer was an eventful one for Houston with Altuve, Springer and Correa hitting the DL among other injuries. Putting aside the tough losses to key competitors and those who remain on the DL, we have to look at the lineup that got the Astros through that stretch. With the roster expansion coming Saturday, this team will be ready for important matchups that are coming up such as those with Boston and Seattle.

There are two names that stand out in my mind when it comes to roster expansions: Tyler White and Max Stassi. These are two guys that have been playing quite regularly with the Astros, but we can't forget: that wouldn't be the case without all of Houston's injuries this season. Stassi and White are two huge reasons why the September call-ups are especially significant for this Astros team. The two have proven their worth to this team but still swing between Triple-A and the majors due to the depth of the Astros' clubhouse. As the rosters expand, these are just two of the players that the Astros will be able to rely on when the hits aren't coming, such as in Correa's 11-for-68 month of August, without having to worry about catching a flight to Fresno once another starter becomes healthy again.

White has made a few trips to Triple-A this season but was often called up following an injury. In the month of August, he has eight homers with 22 RBI in 22 games. With a .317, he is also the only Astro above .300 besides Jose Altuve, not to mention his clutch hits in late innings, such as his walk-off homer to win one of the biggest series the Astros have played this season against Oakland.

Max Stassi has also been a crucial member of the active roster through Brian McCann's absence. His ability to handle the Astros' starting rotation has earned him a regular spot in the lineup along with Martín Maldonado. They've proven to be a reliable duo behind the plate, but the corresponding move for McCann's return would have been inevitable. Through the expansion, McCann will be able to come up without anyone having to be sent down.

Kyle Tucker is likely to come back to the Astros and will hopefully bring the bat that's been incredibly hot for him in Fresno recently. Since being sent to Fresno earlier in August, the 21-year-old has crushed seven homers in seven games for 15 RBI, with a .531 average. Other possible call-ups include JD Davis, who has managed a .368 average since being sent down for Correa's return and Derek Fisher as Jake Marisnick remains on the DL. Cionel Perez, who maintains a 3.86 ERA in 2018, is also likely to come up as another left-handed reliever to add depth to the bullpen. If these guys can bring their Triple-A stats to Houston, it'll take the Astros to another level.

This is just another step towards another memorable playoff run. Especially in the wildly competitive AL West, these call-ups have the potential to really bring this team to the level they need to be at as they approach one of the most important stretches of their season. 

Alvarez is the third in franchise history to get the award

Astros' Yordan Alvarez wins AL Rookie of the Year

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

As expected, the MLB announced on Monday that the winner of the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year Award is Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros. It comes as no surprise, considering Alvarez's performance since being called up on June 9th of this season was powerful, to say the least. He beats out the two other finalists: John Means of the Baltimore Orioles and Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays.

After dominating at the AAA level for the Round Rock Express where he led the minors in home runs (23) and RBIs (71) while hitting for a .343 average and 1.184 OPS over his 56 games before being promoted to the major leagues, he brought the same power to Houston's lineup. He wasted no time showing what he was capable of, notching his first career home run in his second at-bat at Minute Maid Park in his debut game.

He followed that by hitting home runs in four of his first five games and going on to slash .317 / .406 / .733 for a 1.139 OPS from his debut through the end of June, tenth best in all of the majors over that span. Though he finished the month with seven homers in just 60 at-bats, he also maintained his ability to drive in runs, notching 21 RBIs in his first sixteen games. He slowed down slightly in July, banging just five homers in 75 ABs to go along with 15 RBIs, though increasing his average to .333.

He picked the power back up in August and September, though, finishing the final two months of the regular season with a combined 15 home runs and 42 RBIs over 178 at-bats. That ended his regular season with 27 homers, 78 RBIs, a 1.067 OPS, and .313 average, a line that would have been decent for a full season, much less one that started in early June. One of the shining moments of his debut year came in the matchup with the Orioles on August 10th, a night when the Astros put up a franchise-record 23 runs, seven of which came off the bat of Alvarez on a three-homer night including a grand slam.

Although not factored into the voting, Alvarez did contribute in the postseason for Houston, though not at the same level as his regular-season numbers. He had just one home run in the playoffs, a two-run blast in World Series Game 5 against the Nationals in D.C. to help Houston take that game 7-1. He had just one other RBI in October, in ALDS Game 1 against the Rays, giving him just three total along with the one homer to leave his postseason stat line as something to improve on.

Nonetheless, Alvarez's power is something that Houston will gladly put in their DH spot as long as he can continue to drive in runs and be a difference-maker in a game with one swing of his hefty bat. Yordan is the third player in franchise history to win the Rookie of the Year award, joining Jeff Bagwell, who took home the honor for the National League in 1991 and Carlos Correa, who also won in the American League in 2015. The future is bright for this left-handed slugger and the Houston Astros as a result.

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