As first-time All-Star, Astros’ Carlos Correa stands tall at short
Via Houston Chronicle
MIAMI – On the bus ride from the players’ downtown hotel to Marlins Park on Monday, Carlos Correa found himself surrounded by familiar company. George Springer sat to his side, Chris Devenski across the aisle. Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. were all nearby.
“I just felt like I was on the bus with the boys,” Correa said. “I felt pretty comfortable.”
Comfortable is also how the Astros star seemed when encircled by microphones and television cameras for roughly 45 minutes later in the afternoon. Although he’s just 22 years old, the starting shortstop for the American League in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game has been in the spotlight since the Astros drafted him first overall in 2012.
Long ago anointed as a potential perennial All-Star, Correa is making merely the first of what figure to be many appearances at the Midsummer Classic.
“It’s something you want to do every year,” Correa said. “You don’t want to have a four-day vacation during the break. You want to be able to be part of this special team here. It takes a lot of hard work, and it takes a lot of hits to be able to get here. Hopefully, I can keep doing it.”
Correa, who will bat fifth for the AL on Tuesday night, arrived at his first All-Star Game as one of the best players in baseball this season. While playing a premier defensive position, he ranks seventh in the majors in OPS (.979) and is tied for sixth in batting average (.325).
He closed the first half with four hits, two homers and a career-high five RBIs in the Astros’ 19-1 rout of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. His 20 homers for the season give him six more than Francisco Lindor, the shortstop with the next most.
In company of A-Rod
Correa, who already has matched his 2016 home run total, is one of only two shortstops in major league history to record three 20-homer seasons through his age-22 campaign. Alex Rodriguez is the other. His potential seems to have no limits. He’s one of three MVP candidates representing the AL-leading Astros in Miami, along with fellow All-Star starters Altuve and Springer.
“It’s honestly like he’s matured 15 years in three years,” Springer said of Correa’s development as a player since the shortstop’s June 2015 debut. “I don’t really know how to describe it. He’s an animal. He can hit for power. He can hit for average. He can hit the ball wherever he wants.”
On Tuesday, Correa and Altuve will become the first double-play partners to start for the AL since Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter in 2010, 2011 and 2012. It’s not difficult to envision the Astros’ up-the-middle duo repeating that feat for at least the next two seasons, the last two of Altuve’s current contract.
Altuve big influence
“It’s really special to share the field again with Altuve, a guy I’ve learned so much from and a guy that makes me better every single day just by playing next to him and watching the way he works,” Correa said. “It’s going to be really special to share the field in the All-Star Game with him.”
McCullers has been a teammate of Correa for all but a matter of days since the Astros made the two of them their top two picks in general manager Jeff Luhnow’s first draft rebuilding the team. They advanced through the minor leagues together and debuted in the majors within a month of one another in 2015.
“Every year that I’ve played with Carlos, from 2012, I’ve been able to see him not only takes steps (but) like leaps and bounds to become that player that everyone thinks he can become and will become,” McCullers said. “He is that player right now.”
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