A torn ligament in his left thumb is expected to sideline Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa for six to eight weeks. Correa, on pace for the best season of his career, has been the most productive shortstop in the majors since he made his debut in June 2015.
The American League Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the AL’s starting shortstop in this year’s All-Star Game, Correa was having a career-best season in a handful of offensive categories, as the graphic indicates.
This season, Correa ranks third in the majors among position players in wins above replacement, with 4.8. He trails teammate José Altuve (5.2) and Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (5.1).
Looking only at offensive WAR, Correa is second in the majors with 4.7, behind Correa’s 4.9. He and Corey Seager (3.1 offensive wins above replacement) are the only shortstops in the top 15 of that statistic this season.
Start-of-career ranks among best for a shortstop
This season is Correa’s third in the major leagues, and two have been truncated: He played 99 games in his first season after his promotion in June 2015 and has played 84 games this season. Still, he has produced 14.9 WAR in his career. In the last 100 years, two shortstops have produced more WAR in their first three seasons: Hall of Famer Arky Vaughan (17.4) and Johnny Pesky (16.1).
Correa was on pace to reach 8.3 WAR in 146 games this season. Since 2000, only one shortstop has reached 8.3 WAR in a season: Alex Rodriguez, who did it in four years in succession, from 2000 to 2003.
Elias Sports Bureau research shows that Correa has missed 23 games since he made his major league debut, and the Astros are 12-11 in those games (.522). They are 186-150 (.554) in the 336 games Correa has played.
But the Astros have a 10.5-game lead on the Red Sox for home-field advantage in the AL, and their plus-165 run differential is 67 runs better than any other AL team (the Yankees are plus-98).
Even with Correa out of the lineup, the Astros have two of the other top four AL players in runs created per 27 outs (an estimation of how many runs a lineup of nine of the same player would score per game): Altuve and George Springer.
And the Astros’ loss on offense could be partly offset by the return of an important part of their pitching staff. Dallas Keuchel, out since June 2, has made the first of his two or three projected rehabilitation starts and should rejoin the Astros soon. He has a 1.67 ERA in 11 starts this season.