Carlos Correa is living up to the hype.
Called up on June 8–almost exactly three years after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Astros out of high school–the 20-year-old shortstop has played at an MVP level for two months despite being the youngest position player in the entire American League.
Correa homered Monday night for the fourth time in four games, giving him a total of 13 homers in 48 career games along with a .297 batting average, 14 doubles, 14 walks, five steals, and a .917 OPS. And he’s looked good defensively, too.
Here are the top OPS totals by shortstops this season:
CARLOS CORREA .917
Troy Tulowitzki .835
Brandon Crawford .819
Jhonny Peralta .804
And as impressive as it is to sit atop that list, it probably short-changes just how rare it is for a shortstop to be hitting this well while being this young. In the entire history of baseball here are the top OPS totals posted by 20-year-old shortstops with at least 150 plate appearances:
Alex Rodriguez 1.045 1996
CARLOS CORREA .917 2015
Arky Vaughan .787 1932
Jose Reyes .769 2003
Jim Fregosi .761 1962
I’m sure Correa will come back down to earth at some point or at least experience a slump, but for now he’s leading all MLB shortstops in OPS and the only 20-year-old shortstop in MLB history to out-hit him is Alex Rodriguez.
Everyone knew Correa was going to be good–he was a No. 1 pick and a consensus top-five prospect this season and last season–but for him to be this great this soon is a surprise. And really, that’s the story of the entire Astros team that sits atop the AL West at 60-47.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.
It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.
That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.
But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?
We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.