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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Crawfish Boxes

We asked Ryan Dunsmore about Jose Altuve’s MVP hopes and who the team should fear in the postseason.

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Tigers are having a rough week. They were swept by the surging Kansas City Royals, and now head into a three-game series against the hottest team in the American League, the Houston Astros.

We can always count on the Astros to be a fun team, specifically when Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve are next to each other on base. We chatted with Ryan Dunsmore, managing editor of SB Nation’s Astros blog Crawfish Boxes about the Astros season, MVP chances, and that Carlos Correa guy.

BYB: There’s been a lot of chatter recently about Jose Altuve beating out Aaron Judge for AL MVP this year. In spite of Judge’s tremendous start, do you think Altuve has it in the bag?

RD: Yes, I don't even think there is even a question. For me, Altuve would be the clear frontrunner if Aaron Judge didn't wear a Yankees uniform. Members of the media and fans will move the target of what makes an MVP, it will come down to do you value more. Altuve being the best player on the AL's best team or the fact that Judge basically brought the Yankees back to relevance single-handedly.

Altuve has a chance to win the MVP because he's isn't playing so over his head that he can't keep this MVP level play up. He's on his way to winning his third batting title, and Mike Trout's injury will hurt his case. If there is going to be any time that Altuve would have a chance it's this year.

What do you make of the rumors about the Astros being interested in Justin Verlander? How do you think he’d fit in with the Astros roster?

Justin Verlander is one of the high floor pitchers that would be an upgrade for the Astros like Sonny Gray or pick you favorite pitcher from a team, not in contention.The biggest thing that Verlander would bring is experience, something that has paid massive dividends for the 2017 Astros with veteran additions Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki, and Charle Morton.

That being said I'm not sure the Astros and GM Jeff Luhnow pull the trigger. The players the Astros are willing to part with have lost their value in Triple-A and the prospects teams want may be too steep a price for Luhnow. Luhnow is all about extending the window for winning — it was the foundation for his time in St. Louis. He won't part with the tools for future winning easily.

Can we have Carlos Correa?

Correa? The precious? Tigers can't have the precious.

How has this season felt for Astros fans? It seems like it was a long road to get here, but really the team has always had a good core. Do you think a season like this was inevitable?

I would like to think a season like this was inevitable. The Astros couldn't have gotten any worse when Jeff Luhnow took over. They had arguably the worst major league lineup and farm system in baseball. Now, did I expect it to come together like this? Of course not. I would have never expected all the team's stars to start the year playing at an All-Star level. For the pitching to hold up with so many injuries, the bullpen to be lights out with fully staffed, and every free agent addition to working out thus far... this season has felt perfect, too perfect. And it is at this point that Houston sports teams normally fall apart.

Which Astros player doesn’t get enough credit or attention?

Marwin Gonzalez. Maybe he has gotten on the national stage now but Gonzalez has been a solid bench utility player since 2012. He can play any position minus pitcher, catcher, and center field. Gonzalez's numbers at the plate have jumped dramatically in 2017, wRC+ is up almost 80 points to 165 from last year, and his ISO is up 120 points to .261.

Gonzalez basically chalked up his success this season to dropping his hands and being more patient at the plate.

So, about that J.D. Martinez thing… think the Astros still regret letting him go? The Tigers sure do.

Yeah, I'm sure Martinez is the top of Luhnow's "player that got away" list. Martinez sticks out like a sore thumb even compared to prospects that the Astros have traded away.

I can't be mad at Martinez — he put in the work to improve himself. Martinez is more the exception to the rule when it comes to cutting players. Houston didn't give him enough to show the adjustments he made at the plate during Spring Training.

Now would I have preferred to keep Martinez over Robbie Grossman, who the team kept at the time? Hell yes.

Can we circle back to Correa?


Which AL team do you think poses the biggest threat to the Astros in the postseason?

The Boston Red Sox. They have a talented lineup and the starting pitching that can outclass the Astros especially if Houston isn't a full strength. But I'm sure the Astros will be content to wrap up home field advantage in the American League playoffs before they worry about who they are playing.

Thanks to Ryan for stopping by, even if he is an inflexible meanie when it comes to Correa. Read more of his work over at Crawfish Boxes, and follow him on Twitter @d_more55.