You may have heard of Carlos Correa. He's kind of a big deal. He was a consensus top-five prospect entering the season, and some even had him in the number one slot. SB Nation's John Sickels had Correa as the second best prospect on his list, behind only Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Bryant has somewhat unsurprisingly been raking ever since he came up. Yet it was something of a surprise to see Correa, who's all of 20 years old, in the show so soon.
It wasn't because of the degree of Correa's performance in the minors, of course. He started the year by mashing to a .385/.459/.726 tune in Double-A, and then .276/.345/.449 in 20 fewer plate appearances at Triple-A. Between those strong showings and good defense at shortstop (and the existence of Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar), the Astros bumped him to Houston and here we are.
In a very small sample of 112 plate appearances (entering Monday's game), Correa is already the owner of a 160 wRC+. That's the best in the majors among all shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances and tied with Anthony Rizzo for the seventh best among all batters in baseball with 100 plate appearances. He's put together 1.7 fWAR in 25 games, which happens to be as much as Andrelton Simmons has been worth in 79 games. Basically, Correa is incredibly good at this whole baseball thing.
However, there's one thing that Correa has not been good at so far. Let's go back to that shortstop leaderboard. Only four shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances have a worse walk rate than Correa.
|Player||2015 Walk Rate|
Santana, Segura, and Gonzalez have never walked all that much, and Wilmer Flores never walked before he cracked the Majors. However, Correa was in double digits in every stop since A-ball. He's walked only four times so far. Those walks have turned into strikeouts, too. Correa struck out only 12.4 percent of the time at Triple-A, and now that he's an Astro that rate is all the way up to 20.5 percent. It may just be that all of the Astros' players are contractually obligated to strike out a lot. They lead the league with a collective 25 percent strikeout rate after all. In all likelihood, however, Correa is simply adjusting to Major League pitching and how they've approached him. His walks may stabilize in due time, and it's obviously not preventing him from being brilliant. And because the baseball gods hate me, Correa walked in his game last night before the stats databases updated. That's fun, and it makes for walks in two straight games.
Correa with walks on a consistent basis would be truly scary. Turning a .339 OBP into a .360/.370 OBP could make Correa into even more of a monster. Correa is already tied with Devon Travis for the fWAR lead among AL Rookies and will almost surely overtake him. He's a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year Award, and a lot of people in baseball wanted Correa on the All-Star team. There was some surprise when the Astros passed over Byron Buxton to take Correa first overall in the 2012 draft. Correa was a way for the Astros to save pool money for other picks, but it's Correa who's consistently produced and Buxton who can't stay healthy. That bargain has paid off in a massive way for Houston. The 20-year old looks like a young Alex Rodriguez out there.
Once pitchers start staying away from Correa, the walks will come back. And then everyone's really in trouble.
Nicolas Stellini is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. Every time he writes about players not walking, they take a walk. He also covers the Yankees and their Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, at Pinstripe Alley. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.