Hector Neris Agrees to Two-Year, $17 Million Deal with Houston Astros

Hector Neris is celebrating an Astros-nomical deal…

The 32-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher and the Houston Astros have agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal, according to ESPN.

Hector Neris

Neris, a right-handed reliever, started the 2021 season as the closer for the Philadelphia Phillies but lost the job in June. He finished the season with a 4-7 record with 12 saves and a 3.63 ERA in 74 games.

In parts of eight seasons with the Phillies, Neris was 21-29 with a 3.42 ERA and 84 saves.

NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported the deal.

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Randy Arozarena is celebrating a special honor…

The 26-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder, last year’s breakout postseason star, has been named this year’s American League Rookie of the Year.

Randy ArozarenaThe Tampa Bay Rays outfielder beat out teammate Wander Franco and right-handed starter Luis Garcia of the Houston Astros for the honor.

Arozarena received 124 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, including 22 for first place. Garcia had 63 points and Franco had 30 points.

Arozarena led all rookies with a 4.1 WAR while compiling a .815 OPS. He hit 20 home runs while stealing 20 bases becoming the third rookie (Mike TroutAndrew Benintendi) in the last decade to compile a 20-20 season.

Arozarena made only one error in 119 games played in the outfield. He and first baseman Jose Martinez were acquired in January 2020 from the St. Louis Cardinals for lefty Matthew Liberatore and catcher Edgardo Rodriguez.

Arozarena was the ALCS MVP that season while hitting 11 home runs during the playoffs.

“I know I was favored to be the rookie of the year,” Arozarena said through a translator. “But for me, my mind wasn’t set on the award or winning the award. My mind and my goal was to have another good season and continue what I had done the year before.”

Arozarena is Tampa Bay’s first rookie of the year since outfielder Wil Myers in 2013.

Franco, 20, made a late season run for top rookie honors as he reached base in 43 consecutive games, tied with Frank Robinson (1956) for the longest such streak by a player 20 years old or younger. Franco only played in 70 games after getting called up from the minors in June.

Garcia, 24, was an integral part of the division winning Astros. He appeared in 30 games including making 28 starts while compiling a 3.48 ERA. He gave up just 133 hits in 155.1 innings. He led all AL rookies in innings pitched and strikeouts.

Carlos Correa Wins American League’s Rawlings Platinum Glove Award

Carlos Correa is celebrating a

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop, currently a free agent, is winner of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award in the American League.

Carlos CorreaThe award is given to the best defensive player in each league.

Correa, the Houston Astros shortstop was joined by St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, who won in the National League.

The two superstar fielders also represented the top defensive team award winners — Correa’s Astros were named the AL’s Gold Glove Team, and Arenado’s Cardinals were named the NL’s Gold Glove Team.

The Gold Glove Team Award honors the best defensive team in each league.

This is the first career Platinum Glove Award for Correa, who was also a first-time Gold Glover this year.

It’s the fifth consecutive Platinum Glove Award for Arenado, but his first with the Cardinals, after he won every year from 2017-20 with the Colorado Rockies.

The Gold Glove Team Award was introduced last year, and Houston and St. Louis are both first-time winners. Cleveland and the Cubs won the inaugural award in 2020.

Correa and Arenado were chosen as the top fielders from among this year’s Gold Glove Award winners through a combination of fan voting and a sabermetric component, the SABR Defensive Index.

Correa led the AL with +21 Defensive Runs Saved in 2021, while Arenado was one of the top defenders in the NL by various metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating (+5.7) and Statcast’s Outs Above Average (+10).

The Cardinals and Astros were the top two teams in the MLB by Defensive Runs Saved — St. Louis led MLB with +86 DRS, and Houston was second with +78 DRS. They were also the top two fielding teams by Outs Above Average, with the Cardinals’ +50 OAA leading MLB and the Astros’ +45 OAA second-best.

 

Cardinals Star Nolan Arenado Wins Ninth Career Gold Glove Award

Nolan Arenado is part of MLB history…

A record five St. Louis Cardinals players, including the 30-year-old Puerto Rican and Cuban American professional baseball player, have won National League Gold Gloves.

Nolan Arenado

Arenado, the team’s third baseman, was joined by fellow teammates Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill in earning the fielding honor.

Arenado won his ninth Gold Glove, his first since he was traded last winter by the Colorado Rockies.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel won his fifth Gold Glove, and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Belt won his fourth.

Atlanta pitcher Max Fried, who got the win last week in the World Series finale, won his second in a row. Adam Duvall, traded to the Braves in July from Miami, won in right.

Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings won at catcher.

Houston’s Yuli Gurriel won at first to go along with his American League batting title, and Astros teammate Carlos Correa won at shortstop, his first.

Oakland’s Matt Chapman won at third and Sean Murphy at catcher, and Toronto’s Marcus Semien at second after signing with the Blue Jays and moving from shortstop.

Kansas City center fielder Michael A. Taylor and left fielder Andrew Benintendi won their first Gold Gloves. Right fielder Joey Gallo, traded by Texas to the New York Yankees in July, won his second straight.

Voting is conducted by major league managers and up to six coaches from each team, and they cannot vote for players on their teams.

Houston Astros Reportedly Offer Carlos Correa a Five-Year Contract Worth $160 million

Carlos Correa has a Astro-nomical offer to consider…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop, currently a free agent, has been offered a five-year contract worth $160 million by the Houston Astros, according to reports.

Carlos Correa

Correa, whose name has been brought up by many this offseason to potentially fill the New York Yankees’ need at shortstop, slashed .279/.366/.485 this past season with 26 homers, 34 doubles and 92 RBI in 148 games for the Astros’ high-powered offense.

Selected to the MLB All-Star team in 2017 and 2021, Correa has spent seven seasons in Houston and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 with the Astros.

The former number one overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Correa is fresh off a World Series appearance against the Atlanta Braves where he hit .261 with one double, four RBI and no home runs.

In 2017, he helped the Astros win their first championship in franchise history against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a .276 average and two home runs.

Jose Altuve Homers to Tie for Second on MLB’s All-Time Playoff Home Run Leaderboard

Jose Altuve has batted his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

During Game 2 of the World Series, the 31-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Houston Astros second baseman hit a home run off a first-pitch fastball from Drew Smyly, leading off the bottom of the seventh by sneaking a fly ball just inside the left-field pole for a 7-2 Astros lead.

Jose Altuve

It was Altuve’s 22nd career home run in the postseason, tying him with Bernie Williams for second on the all-time list.

The two trail behind Manny Ramirez‘s 29 postseason homers.

While Williams did it in 121 games, Altuve has required just 75. Altuve had struggled in the ALCS, hitting .125 (although with two home runs), and then went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Game 1.

He then turned around and gave Houston two big swings in Game 2 on Wednesday night — including an historic one.

“To hit 22 homers in the playoffs and tie him — always every time that my name is mentioned, before it was Derek Jeter, now it’s Bernie Williams — it means a lot to me,” Altuve said. “It makes me keep going out there, hitting homers to help my team, to keep accomplishing things like this. As long as we win, everything’s good.”

Overall, the 2017 American League MVP Award winner is Houston’s all-time leader in postseason hits (88), runs (66) and home runs (22), and this year, he became the fastest player in MLB history to hit 20 postseason home runs when he went deep in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Houston Astros Slugger Yordan Alvarez Named American League Championship Series MVP

Yordan Alvarez is celebrating his ALCS performance with a special trophy…

The 24-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a designated hitter and outfielder for the Houston Astros was named the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) after almost single-handedly leading his team to the American League pennant.

Yordan Alvarez

In the final three games of the ALCS — a run that started with the Astros facing a 2-1 series deficit to the Boston Red Sox — Alvarez went 9-for-13.

In Games 5 and 6, he outhit the entire Red Sox roster on his own, 7-5. His ALCS performance peaked at Minute Maid Park in Game 6: 4-for-4 with a single, a double, a triple, a run and an RBI, as Houston finished off the series with a 5-0 victory over Boston.

“It was all about focus,” Alvarez told ESPN‘s Marly Rivera after the game. “That’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to do damage and that’s what happened.”

Alvarez’s showing in the ALCS surprised even himself, especially after a 2020 season when he only played two games and underwent surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, along with arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Yordan Alvarez“I didn’t really imagine myself being able to come out of that surgery on both knees and be able to do this as quickly as I did,” Alvarez said. “So it was really unbelievable for me to be able to come back and do what I did. Just super happy to be here and be able to contribute like that.”

Throughout the series, Astros manager Dusty Baker noted the exceptional impact Alvarez made in the middle of Houston’s lineup — and how his power bat changed the trajectory of the team’s season.

“He is a big boy in the middle,” Baker said.

Alvarez is the second Astros player with 11 hits in a playoff series, behind only Jose Altuve‘s 12 in the 2020 ALCS. He became the fifth player in MLB history with 11 or more hits in a single series against the Red Sox, joining a club with Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams (2004), Lou Brock (1967) and Buck Herzog (1912).

Baker noted Alvarez’s all-fields approach, which has drawn comparisons to the way David Ortiz consistently drove pitches on the outer half of the plate the other way. During the 2021 season, Alvarez pulled baseballs 36.4%, and hit them up the middle and to the opposite field 36.3% and 27.3% of the time, respectively.

His average exit velocity of 93.2 mph ranked ninth in MLB, ahead of Manny MachadoJuan Soto and Bryce Harper, according to Baseball Savant.

“He hits the ball in the opposite field and it stays straight,” Baker said. “It doesn’t have a slice on it, and everybody knows he can pull the ball, but he also has power the other way. He is only going to get better. Like last year at this time, we didn’t have Alvarez, and we came close to going to the series last year without Alvarez. And now we have Alvarez, and we’re very, very grateful and thankful that we have him.”

After the game, Alvarez gave credit to Baker for his support throughout the season.

“He understands how it is to be a ballplayer,” Alvarez said. “He understands what guys go through every day. I got a chance to spend time with him in spring training as well. He has been really helpful to me, and I’m thankful for everything that he has given to me in this time together.”

Alvarez’s three extra-base hits in a potential series-clinching game tie Carlos Correa for the most in Astros history, and he joins Yuli Gurriel and Craig Biggio as the only Astros with consecutive three-hit games in the postseason.

That historic performance did not go unnoticed by his teammates.

“Yordan was, like, something else,” said Astros pitcher Luis Garcia. “He was really clutch, everything.”

Alvarez’s successful 2019 campaign for Rookie of the Year — where he hit .313/.412/.655 with 27 homers, 26 doubles and 78 RBIs with 3.7 bWAR in 87 games — served as his introduction to the national stage, but he cemented his place among the best designated hitters with his 2021 season, hitting .277/.346/.531 with 33 homers, 104 RBIs, 35 doubles and a triple with 3.2 bWAR this year.

But none of them meant as much as winning the ALCS MVP trophy.

“It means everything,” Alvarez said. “It means everything. I think there’s a lot of things that I could say that’s behind that trophy, but all I can say is it just means everything.”

As the spotlight got brighter, so did Alvarez’s performance at the plate. The ALCS MVP trophy served as a cherry on top.

Luis Garcia Helps Lead Houston Astros to American League Championship Title

Luis Garcia is celebrating an Astros-nomical feat…

The 24-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher helped shut out the Boston Red Sox to help lead the Houston Astros to 5-0 victory in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night.

Luis Garcia

As a result, the Astros win the 2021 American League pennant and will advance to their third World Series in five years. The Red Sox, conversely, will head home for the winter, having lost the best-of-seven series by a 4-2 margin.

The Astros received a stellar start from Garcia, a rookie right-hander, who atoned for his poor performance in Game 2.

Garcia threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, holding the Red Sox to a single hit (an Enrique Hernández triple in the sixth) and a walk. He struck out seven batters and showed no ill effects from the knee injury that plagued him earlier in the series.

The Astros were paced offensively by Yordan Alvarez, the ALCS MVP. He delivered a pair of doubles as well as a triple. He drove in one run and scored the other.

Nathan Eovaldi, pitching just two days after his Game 5 relief appearance, permitted five hits and a walk across 4 1/3 innings. He gave up a run and struck out four batters.

The Astros will await the winner of the National League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves lead that series by a 3-2 margin heading into Saturday’s Game 6 at Truist Park in Atlanta.

Yuli Gurriel Claims American League Batting Champion Title

Yuli Gurriel’s career is in full swing

The 37-year-old Cuban professional baseball first baseman, nicknamed “La Piña”, hit a winning RBI single in the ninth inning, and the AL West champion Houston Astros headed to the postseason with a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Yuli Gurriel,

Gurriel, the American League batting champion, hit .319 and became Houston’s second player to win a batting title after Jose Altuve in 2014, ’16 and ’17. Gurriel became the second Cuban-born big league batting champion following Tony Oliva in 1964, ’65 and 1971.

“It’s something really important,” Gurriel said through a translator. “I think everybody knows it’s a big deal, and it’s tough to win a batting title, so that means a lot. I was fine either way with playing today. … It turned out that I was able to be there in the end, so it all worked out.”

Gurriel, who entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement, singled to left off Lou Trivino (7-8) to score Jason Castro, who had singled starting the inning and took third on Yordan Álvarez’s one-out double.

Gurriel said he wasn’t prepared to hit on Sunday and hadn’t taken a swing all day before the at bat, but he had a positive mindset to get a hit.

“He didn’t sit on it,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker, who claimed he predicted to bench coach Joe Espada the previous inning that “Yuli is going to win this game. Walkoff.”

Oakland was 86-76, finishing nine games behind the Astros in third place.

Carlos Correa Hits Career-High 25th Home Run to Help Houston Astros Clinch AL West Title

Carlos Correa has blasted his team to another title…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop hit his career-high 25th home run with a three-run shot, as the Houston Astros clinched the AL West title with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.

Carlos Correa

It’s the fourth division title in five seasons and 10th overall for the Astros. They’re in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, extending a franchise record.

“That sounds pretty special,” Correa said.

The Astros will open the AL Division Series on October 7 against the Chicago White Sox — home field for that best-of-five matchup is still to be determined. Houston went 5-2 against the White Sox this year.

Houston was a wild-card team last year in manager Dusty Baker‘s first season with the club. So where did this division-clinching victory rate on his list?

“Every time you win, it ranks higher than the last time. And you never get tired of winning,” he said.

Correa’s huge hit in the fourth inning allowed the Astros to put a recent stretch where they dropped five of six games behind them and let the celebration begin at Minute Maid Park.

“We are where we are because of him,” Astros star second baseman Jose Altuve said.

Astros mascot Orbit dashed onto the field waving a huge orange flag that touted the team’s division title as the players cheered and embraced after the final out.

“I’m proud of my team,” Altuve said. “They went out there every single day this season to make this happen.”

Tampa Bay, which has already clinched the top seed in the American League playoffs, put runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth but didn’t score.

Rays rookie Wander Franco went 0-for-4 to snap a 43-game on-base streak, which tied him with Frank Robinson in 1956 for the longest such string in MLB history among players 20 or younger.

 

Yuli Gurriel singled to start Houston’s fourth and Kyle Tucker walked. Correa followed with his towering shot that smashed off the wall in left field to put the Astros up 3-0 against Ryan Yarbrough (9-7).

The charismatic shortstop put a hand to his ear to encourage the crowd as the rounded third base on the home run trot.

Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5) didn’t allow a hit until Ji-Man Choi singled to start the sixth. There were two outs in the inning when Brandon Lowe homered on a ball to right field that sailed just inside the foul pole to cut the lead to 3-2.