2013 MLB Preview: Houston Astros Lineup Predictions - Jose Altuve, Carlos Pena

By Mark Donatiello
Brett Davis – US PRESSWIRE

The Houston Astros’ lineup is overshadowed by their divisional rivals this year in a big way.  On the current roster, only Jose Altuve emerges as a legitimate threat at the top of the order.  The overpaid Carlos Pena can be a strikeout liability at times, and the young players around the two biggest names on the team are still learning.  This season, in all likelihood, will be quite an adventure.

Still, the Astros have some singular, impressive talent that could be fun to watch.  Altuve is coming off a breakout season where the rest of the league took notice of his talents.  The second basemen could be one of the best in baseball, and his statistics would be better if the meat of the Astros lineup drove in more runs.  Altuve hit .290 last season, stealing 33 bases while collecting 167 hits.

The scrappy Altuve is certainly the highlight to a shallow, inexperienced, and unimpressive lineup.

On the flip side, Carlos Pena is a highly-recognizable, overpaid power threat in the middle of the Astros lineup.  Once a premier player in baseball, Pena is declining rapidly.  Last season, Pena hit under .200 and didn’t break 20 home runs for the first time since a 2006 season where played in under 20 games.  He’s averaged nearly 30 homers per season since 2007, and could be fun to watch in Houston’s relatively small ball park.  Still, the Astros paid more than 25% of their total payroll to land this streaky power hitter.

Beyond Pena and Altuve, the Astros don’t have many recognizable names in the lineup.  Besides Pena, no player in the field makes more than $1.25 million.  Young pitching could keep the Astros in some games, but this lineup is thin.

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