Dynasty BaseballTriple Play

TDG’S Triple Play: Houston Astros!

The Triple Play is back for a sixth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!

This week I (@barrington_phil) am joined by  Colin Coulahan (@cjc07) and Sam Wirsching (@SamFBB1), follow us on Twitter and send us any questions, feedback, disagreements, what have yous, in the comments.

Yordan Alvarez, Age: 25, Position: OF

Analysis by: Colin Coulahan

Despite Yordan Alvarez being inside the top-20 of most dynasty rankings, if not the top-10, I still don’t think he gets the respect he deserves.  Alvarez is arguably one of the best hitters in baseball and he’s only 25 years old.  For fantasy purposes, he may not be ranked as high because of the lack of speed, but his bat is as good as anyone else’s in the league.  This is a guy who posted an OPS over 1.0 last year, his wRC+ was 185 (league average is 100).  Alvarez was almost worth two players last year.  This guy is a beast and needs to start getting some recognition for just how good he is.

He’s MVP in my book

Alvarez had an obscene slash line of .306/.406/.613/1.019 in 2022, with 37 home runs and 95 & 97 runs and RBI.  His Statcast has so much red that it looks like someone was murdered on the page.  The underlying numbers were also elite; Alvarez was in the top 1% of average & max exit velocity, expected batting average, slugging, wOBA, xwOBA, and Hard Hit%.  Not was he hitting for power at an elite level last year, he did so with a sound approach at the plate.  His 18% strikeout rate and 14% BB% were excellent.  If Aaron Judge hadn’t gone bananas and hit 62 home runs, Yordan would have certainly been in the MVP conversation.

Cuban God of walks

The approach is just as elite as the power.  Alvarez has a positive run value in all four zones in his swing/take profile on Statcast.  He adds value when he takes pitches in the chase and waste zones and adds value when swinging at pitches in the shadow and heart zones.  As of this writing, Alvarez’s elite discipline has been slow to show up at the plate, striking out a 26% rate.  There’s been more swing and miss than normal and a bit more chasing pitches, but these should normalize with more at-bats.

From hands to knees

It’s not all roses with Alvarez.  There is a history of injuries that will always be in the back of anyone who rosters him, myself included.  The knees are surgically repaired and he’s had a history of hand issues going back to last year.  This has caused him to miss time last year and he may need some more rest days this year.  Personally, I was concerned that he may be one of these players that will always have some sort of nagging injury and I tried shopping him around in one league.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t offered anything that was really close to his value so I’m holding him, but I’m going to watch him closely.  If the Astros continue to play him in the outfield the risk of knee issues will always be there, and if the hand issues persist this year it may be time to move him.

But, he is s stud.  Players like this don’t come around too often.  Alvarez is already one of the best hitters in baseball and is only 26.  And while there may be some risks, like there are with any player, the production is too elite to pass up.  

Hunter Brown, Age: 24, Position: SP

Analysis by: Sam Wirsching

The Houston Astros seem to have an unending line of high end pitchers coming through the organization, both as FA signings or as prospects coming up through the ranks.  I think about every pitcher that has failed as a prospect there, or has left there in FA and still they have one of the strongest pitching units in all of MLB. Rightfully so, they have earned a reputation for having one of the strongest pitching development programs. I think this is the case and is shown with what they are doing in 2023. All five of their starters (according to roster resource) started their professional careers with the Houston organization. Four of them were international signings (including three in the summer of 2015!) and one was drafted. Hunter Brown was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 amateur and is someone I have been targeting in dynasty ever since he was drafted.

Hunting for prospects

When Hunter was drafted out of Wayne State in 2019 he was riding some buzz from a performance in a Florida baseball tournament. Houston was getting a pitcher who has developed a high 90’s fast ball, a slider, and a curve. He was a SP some circles were high on and even though he made some starts with mixed results 2020 was going to be his year to shoot up charts.

Hunter Season Canceled

2020 was a lost season for players stuck in the minors. Hunter Brown season (among hundreds of others was canceled and really we had no idea about a number of things coming out of it. There was some signal when fangraphs had him as the number 2 prospect for the Astros entering 2021. This excitement was buoyed by the chatter that while the Astros had a strong farm system their farm system was also deep. It would be harder to identify just who would break through. 

The Hunter becomes the Hunted

When everyone came back in 2021 Hunter showed he had the stuff to be a starter… if. He made 19 starts across AA and AAA for Houston and struck out 131 hitters in 100.1 innings (11.8 k/9). Hunter also seemed to be good at limiting hard contact. In 2021 he gave up 12 home runs in those 100 innings. He also had a 1.415 WHIP that season. His problems were when he couldn’t limit baserunners. IF Hunter could limit his hits or his walks he would take off up the prospect rankings. Which is what happened in 2022. In AAA he started 14 games and had a 9-4 record with a 2.55 era and 134 K’s in 106 innings. His whip fell to 1.085 and his home runs allowed went from 12 to five. Strikeouts, limiting hard quality, limiting walks, having significant success in the minors with trackable improvements every year it felt like it was happening.

See What (Hunter) Brown can do for you.

In September of 2022 Houston called up Hunter Brown for a couple starts and a few relief appearances. He wasn’t used a lot in their World Series winning playoff run and at the end of last season there were still a number of questions. But all along I think Houston has an idea. In the years that Brown was working his way up the ladder Houston had Verlander, Cole, Greinke, and Odorizzi among others making starts for them. They let all of those players walk including Cole in his prime and Verlander after he won a Cy Young with them in 2022. Houston sees a three-pitch pitcher with high K rates and low hard hit rates. He pitches for a team that should win a lot of games the next five years. This rotation is one of the best in all of baseball and with Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier in the rotation with Hunter my feeling is going into 2024 they will all be considered top 25 SP in fantasy. If you are in a league where the manager doesn’t believe (or dislikes the Astros) buy now. He is worth finding out what Brown can do for your fantasy squad.  

Luis Santana, Age: 23, Position: 2B/3B, Level: Double-A

Analysis by: Phil Barrington

Oye Como Va

The 5’6” 196-pound, free swinging, right-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic is a name most of you out in Dynastyland may not be familiar with. Follow me, dear reader, on a path of enlightenment. Signed way back in 2016 by the Mets and stayed in Rookie ball for multiple seasons, until, in January 2019, Santana was traded from the Mets to the Astros with outfielder Ross Adolph and catcher Scott Manea for infielder J.D. Davis and infielder Cody Bohanek. Houston was more aggressive in promoting the solidly-built middle infielder, getting him to Double-A before the end of the 2019 season. Then, he lost a developmental in 2020, and spent 2021 playing for the High-A Asheville Tourists.


Santana returned to Asheville for the 2022 season, and it was a productive one. He was named a Milb.com Astros All-star and Sally league player of the month in both June and September. In 97 games Santana went 11/11 with 23 doubles and slashed .297/.386/.472, good for an .858 OPS. A 10% Walk rate and only 17% K rate supported a hitter improving his game as he rises through the minor leagues.

Soul Sacrifice

Santana has started off quiet this season for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, slashing only .226/.250/.605 with a homer and a steal, but that’s in only 31 at-bats, so I’m giving him a longer leash to produce this season, but, of course, we would like to see better out of the gate. Playing second and third base, Santana may be able to step in, one day, for the similarly diminutive Jose Altuve in Houston’s big league lineup…or he makes it as a utility guy…or he never makes it to the bigs. Risk has to be weighed with reward, as we all know.

Rostered in only 1% of Fantrax leagues (probably only by me) he is only for the deepest of leagues; also not found on the top 30 Astros prospect list by mlb.com, and no top prospect lists that I could find. However, I learned from another great fantasy writer that when they zig, we zag. I like being ahead of the curve than behind it, so if you’re in a deep league, why not add him up, see what happens, he isn’t going to cost anything (at the moment).

The Author

Phil Barrington

Phil Barrington

Fantasy player since 1999, specializing in OPS leagues. Accountant by day, fantasy writer by night. Spreadsheets are life.

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