Let’s start with analytics
There are a lot of ways to evaluate a player’s worth. As Major League Baseball continues to evolve and progress, it’s becoming more and more analytically driven. The weight has shifted, and we no longer evaluate talent by watching players perform in the ballpark. Instead, we find their name on a computer screen and slide our finger down the line, letting the monitor tell us how good, said player is.
I’m going to make an argument for Carlos Correa being the most underrated player in baseball. In making this argument, I’ll talk about stats, but analytical stats such as FIP, DRA, wRC+, and so on, will play no role in my evaluation of Carlos Correa.
Don’t leave yet!
I want you all to stick with me. Analytics is the new forward way of thinking, and I don’t want you to stop reading now because I’m not using them in my argument. I also don’t want you to think that my opinion, no matter what I say from this point on, isn’t valid without analytics. I want you to hear me out, and I bet I can change the way you look at Carlos Correa.
Let’s take a look at Carlos Correa’s stats?
I said I would talk about stats, just not analytics, so let’s kick it old school and flip over a brand new Carlos Correa baseball card. What do the stats of old say about Correa’s regular-season career numbers?
- Games: 604
- At-bats: 2269
- Runs: 334
- Hits: 626
- Doubles: 128
- Triples: 7
- Homeruns: 107
- Runs Batted In: 397
- Stolen Bases: 33
- Walks: 272
- Slugging Percentage: .480
- On-base Plus Slugging: .833
- Batting Average .276
Surely you all see it now, right? Of course, I’m joking. These numbers don’t stand out. They’re fair numbers, which would lead you to believe that on paper, Carlos Correa is a good, not great, baseball player. So, what’s my point in all of this? My point is, Carlos Correa is one of those players you can not justify evaluating reading the back of a baseball card or following a stat line on your computer.
How does Francisco Cervelli fit into all of this?
The other day I was watching tv. I was watching Hot Stove, a morning baseball program hosted by Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds. They were interviewing the newly retired big-league catcher Francisco Cervelli. During the interview, the trio began talking briefly about analytics. Cervelli said something that resulted in a standing ovation from me. He said, “The game is played by humans, not robots.”
It’s so simple, yet it makes so much sense. Athletes aren’t robots; they’re humans. Not everyone is the same pitcher with the bases loaded and no outs. Not every hitter is the same person down by one in the bottom of the 9th. Analytics cannot tell you who’s got “it,” and Carlos Correa has more of “it” than any player in MLB today.
Let’s talk about “it”
The easy first question to ask, what the hell is “it.” I’ve used having that clutch factor as an example. Someone who wants the bat in their hands in the bottom of the 9th inning with the game on the line. That person who lives for game seven.
That man is Carlos Correa. Correa is 26 years old and is tied for 9th all-time with 17 career postseason homeruns. Two people have hit three postseason walk-offs in baseball’s history. One is David Ortiz. The other is Carlos Correa.
Correa is born-again in the postseason. Let me paint the picture. ALCS Game 5, Astros trail 1-3 in the series. There’s one out; the bases are empty, games tied 3-3, bottom of the 9th. Carlos Correa is on deck, by the side of his manager Dusty Baker. Before heading to the plate, he calmly says to Dusty, “walk-off.” Dusty replies, “Go ahead on man.”
Dusty Baker following his team’s game five walk-off victory. “That was as big a game as I’ve ever been in.” That’s pretty damn impressive coming from someone who has managed over 3,500 professional baseball games.
The definition of leadership in baseball is Carlos Correa
As if Correa’s game five walk-off wasn’t enough. I’ve never experienced chills watching a baseball game as I did in the same ALCS series, now game six. Here’s your picture. It’s the bottom of the 6th, the young pitcher for the Astros, Framber Valdez, is on the mound VS the Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz. The count is 3-2.
Valdez throws a breaking ball to Diaz, who lays off for ball four, normally a win, right? Not at this moment, Diaz immediately begins yelling at Valdez on the mound, “No! No! A showing of pure competitiveness at the highest level. Diaz wanted to be challenged. He wanted to rise to the occasion and was livid he didn’t get a chance to swing the bat.
Players from both teams come together, but eventually, Diaz makes his way to first base. Now comes Carlos Correa charging to the mound to have a chat with Framber Valdez. In a pep-talk where none of us even knew what Correa said, the whole world was instantly motivated by Correa’s passion and conviction. Pointing and yelling at his teammate, clearing his head of all noise and pressure. Valdez proceeds to finish the inning unscathed, pitching six innings, surrendering only one earned run.
After the game, we find out Correa’s message to Valdez,
“Your job is not to go out and be the bigger man. Your job is to help us win the ballgame, and you’re not going to help us if you’re distracted. Just focus, give me a ground-ball double play, and let’s get out of the inning.”
Carlos Correa puts the entire Astros club on his back and carries the team through adversity
It was a time that shook baseball. The 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros had Cheated the game. The details of the events are well documented. The Astros players had been illegally stealing signs and relaying to its players what types of pitches were coming through a series of knocks or bangs on trash cans.
These events led to the firings of team manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The players went unpunished by Major League Baseball but were left under scrutiny with no leadership to be the face of the now hated Houston Astros.
When the team needed “it” the most, Carlos Correa stepped in, and “it” he became once more. Rushing to the microphone to answer the questions and take the heat. Admitting the wrongs done by the organization but again being the leader the team needed at that point more than ever. The spokesperson with all eyes on him. Metaphorically removing the barrels of loaded guns away from his teammates and standing tall in the crosshairs.
Correa’s teammates had buckled. They weren’t able to take the heat, and without Correa’s unbreakable will to protect his teammates and lift them up in their darkest hour above the highest level of adversity, the team would have crumbled.
By no means am I defending the Astros and their actions, but the level of courage shown by Carlos Correa at that moment was remarkable. It’s not easy to respect someone that has done such wrong. Personally however, I gained a lot of respect for the man Carlos Correa proved he was beneath the layers of him and his teammate’s wrongdoings.
I’ve proven that Carlos Correa is a baseball player that cannot be evaluated by analytics for all the points I’ve touched on. No number or percentage you read on your computer can appropriately depict the value of a player like Carlos Correa. You play 162 games in the regular season, and Correa isn’t the best player throughout that 162, but in the biggest moments, both on and off the field, Carlos Correa is the most valuable player in Major League Baseball.