On Saturday afternoon, the Houston Astros will look to take a 2-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the best of seven American League championships. The Astros are looking for the fourth banner in their franchise, including their third in five years.

If the Astros are to move on to another World Series, then shortstop (and impending free agent) Carlos Correa looks certain to play a big role.

After all, it was Correa who provided the most memorable moment in Game 1 (the Astros never lagged past his homerun in the seventh inning), and it was Correa who led all positional players in Wins Above. Replacement this year, just ahead of Marcus Semien. Correa has proven that he also enjoys the big stage under the October lights. For his career, he hit 0.276 / 0.350 / 0.531 in the playoffs, earning him an OPS more than 40 points above his career figure in the regular season.

The Red Sox may be wondering before Game 2: how to get Correa out? We are not advanced scouts, but answer nine questions about his approach.

1. Does he like to swing on the first pitch? Nope. Correa only rocked 27% of the first offers he saw in the regular season, up from 42% overall. He’s selective about what he’s looking for, and if you take a look at the heat map below, it’s clear that he seems to be drilling a spot in the inner half.


Two of Correa’s eight home runs on fastballs came against pitchers who, on counts of 0-0, tried to either squeeze a fastball inside or put one in the middle. You must beware.

2. How does his behavior change depending on the first pitch? As we’ve established, Correa is picky about what he does on the first pitch. And the second? It depends on the outcome of the first one. When he has a 1-0 lead, his swing misses 31%; when it trails 0-1 it goes up to 48%.

3. Does his approach change as the accounts deepen? A common theme throughout Correa’s strikes is that if he has the advantage, he becomes extremely damaging with his swing, and he will only offer if it’s something he can pilot. This is a sign of a confident hitter who knows his strengths and how to maximize them. The interesting thing is that Correa changes his behavior when he gets ahead of, say, a 2-1 count. Instead of staying locked in the inner half, he starts looking the other way, probably realizing that a pitcher is going to stay away at all costs. Likewise, Correa was more likely to shoot backward in batter’s counts than in pitcher’s counts (32) or even (28).

4. And with two hits? Correa is in swing mode at this time. He offered nearly 60 percent of the double-hitting shots he saw, and his chase rate peaked at 35 percent. Correa’s contact rate also peaked, reaching 10 percentage points higher than when he had no strike. It might sound strange, but it’s intuitive: Without a strike, Correa only swings when he has a chance to send the ball to Valhalla. This means that it will take more aggressive swings than with two strikes, when it favors contact over damage.

5. Is there a type of terrain he struggles with? Here are Correa’s percentile ranks in some prime stats among hitters who have seen at least 100 of the pitch type this year:

Fast balls
















Not all throws are the same, but if you leave the table above and nothing else, throwers with curved balls should plan to attack Correa with him early and often. Statistically, this seems to be its weakest point.

6. Did the Red Sox succeed against him? Nope. In six regular season games against Boston this year, he’s hit 0.333 / 0.467 / 0.583 with four of his eight hits for extras. Correa’s dominance against Boston also lasted his entire career. His 1,060 OPS against the Red Sox is his second highest against any team, minimum 10 games. (The first place belongs to the Colorado Rockies.)

7. Who did a good job against him? Oakland Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea has faced Correa more than any other pitcher, seeing him 47 times and keeping him on a .205 / .340 / .205 slash line.

8. How? Pitcher-batsman clashes have sample sizes that make their results more descriptive than predictive, but for entertainment purposes only, we’ve watched all of Manaea’s clashes with Correa in 2021. If Manaea has a formula, it’s to steal strikes with his early secondary throws – especially his curved ball – and then, when he uses his lead (especially on the inside half) to make sure he locates it.

9. What does Eovaldi need to know? On Saturday afternoon Correa will face Nathan Eovaldi, a hard-throw right-hander with a deep punt and a large arsenal. If we had to give Eovaldi any advice it would be to steal an early shot with his curveball, his second most used pitch. If Eovaldi can do that, he can put Correa in situations where he’s more likely to expand his swing radius, creating potential for puffs and reducing the chances of Correa checking his watch again after throwing a pivot home run. .

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