Houston Astros wunderkind shortstop Carlos Correa tore a ligament in his left thumb and will not return to the club until September.
Has a late-July injury to an MVP candidate ever mattered so little?
Make no mistake, the news is disheartening for Correa, the former Rookie of the Year who just made his first All-Star team. A .320/.400/.566 slash line and 20 home runs put him near the top of American League MVP discussions that, due to this injury, will no longer mention his name.
But by the time Correa returns — the club has determined it will be six-to-eight weeks — the Astros will have vanquished the four other teams that comprise a putrid American League West.
When Correa underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair the ligament, his team was up 16.5 — yes, 16.5 — games in the division. It would require a collapse of absurd proportions to even fathom the Astros out of the playoff picture when the 22-year-old returns to his rightful spot in the three-hole of baseball’s best lineup.
Houston will replace Correa with Marwin Gonzalez, a utility bench player who has a .966 OPS in 278 plate appearances and can build a legitimate case as an All-Star snub. When Gonzalez doesn’t play shortstop, Alex Bregman — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft — will.
If any other team absorbed a comparable injury, executives would be searching frantically and overspending for a three-month rental shortstop before the trade deadline comes.
Not so in Houston.