With an All-Star foundation that includes reigning American League MVP Jose Altuve, along with fellow All-Stars outfielder George Springer and shortstop Carlos Correa, generating offense has not been a big problem for the Astros the last couple seasons. So when some of the guys in the lower half of the order begin swinging it in an All-Star fashion, it becomes almost unfair. (Note: This is how 12 game winning streaks happen, by the way.)
So when Evan Gattis puts together a week where he has a 417/.423/1.000 (10-for-24) slash line, to go with two doubles, four homers and 15 RBIs in six games, well, yeah, unfair. HIs biggest hit was a grand slam against the Royals on Friday night to keep alive what has become the Astros' 12-game winning streak. He also has lumberjack forearms, a medieval beard, and doesn't wear batting gloves — I feel like these are things I should mention, mainly because they excite me even more about Evan Gattis.
All of that allowed the Astros' designated hitter to win the American League Player of the Week award for last week. A few thoughts on Gattis and his profound surge as of late:
The 2018 plan at catcher is working out tremendously.
The Astros came into the season with a plan to make Gattis the full time designated hitter and virtually relieve him of any catching duties, a departure from the 2017 season. That strategy, in a perfect world, would strengthen not only the catching corps, but give the Astros a fresher Gattis, with only hitting on his plate, no defense. With Gattis now tearing the cover off the ball, and with backup catcher Max Stassi sporting an OPS (.848) even higher than Gattis', the plan has worked out as well as Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch could have scripted.
The upcoming schedule will lead to more slugging.
During this 12 game winning streak, the Astros have scored 86 runs. Of course, it has been against the Rangers, Athletics, Royals, and Rays, but runs are runs. Here's the thing — the scoring barrage is not going to stop any time soon. The Astros next 26 games are against teams that, as of Monday, are at or below .500. The Astros are seven games short of the halfway point of the season and already have 49 wins. Barring a drastic shift in performance, they will easily be on pace to break the team record for wins (102, set in 1998), and Gattis should be able to pile up more numbers. Currently, his 47 RBI's are fifth in the American League, which leads to fun speculation....
Can we dare to dream of an Evan Gattis All-Star berth?
As of last tabulation of AL All-Star voting totals, Gattis was running fourth in the American League at designated hitter, with three big names in front of him — J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox, Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees, and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels. Gattis was well back of the leader, former Astro Martinez, by more than 300,000 votes, so he won't catch him, and frankly, Martinez (.311/.373/.643) is a deserving starter. So could Gattis get in as a reserve? His numbers are currently better overall than Stanton's (more RBI's, better in each slash line stat) and Ohtani is injured. We will see. It's important to note that reserves are not chosen by the All-Star manager anymore, they're chosen by the players and the league office, so no homer-ism help from A.J. Hinch! (For the record, I think Gattis would need to keep destroying the baseball for another couple weeks to be considered.)
Hey, speaking of homer-ism.....
Your Gattis meme for the remainder of 2018.....
If you're on Twitter during an Astros game and see a smattering of this animated GIF.....
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.... just know that Evan Gattis probably homered. Where does that come from? Well, when Gattis was slumping at the beginning of the season, many Astros fans on Twitter wanted to see him designated for assignment. However, once he began hitting the cover off the ball, those voices silenced, and in an effort to presumably point out how quickly Twitter had backpedaled (I know, crazy, Twitter shifting gears, right?), Astros MLB.com beat writer Brian McTaggart used that GIF to symbolize those now quiet voices.
Let's keep Homer (and homers) alive, Gattis!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.