Red Sox

Red Sox-Astros ALCS: Top 10 hitters in the series

Red Sox

You can count on the 2021 American League Championship Series to feature plenty of offense.

The Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros boasted two of the most fearsome lineups in Major League Baseball this season. Both teams finished in the top five in runs scored with Boston fifth (829) and Houston first (863).

Red Sox-Astros preview: A lot has changed with Houston since 2018

The slugfest will begin Friday with Game 1 taking place at Minute Maid Park. Ahead of the action, here's a look at the top 10 hitters that will make opposing pitchers wary in the ALCS.

10. Yuli Gurriel, 1B, Astros

2021 stats: .319/.383/.462, 15 HR, 81 RBI

Gurriel quietly was crowned the 2021 American League batting champion after posting a .319 batting average. The 37-year-old is a legit threat to go yard too as he belted 31 homers two seasons ago. He's often overlooked in the stacked Astros lineup, but Gurriel could end up being a real thorn in Boston's side during this series.

9. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros

2021 stats: .270/.355/.422, 12 HR, 55 RBI

Bregman missed a good chunk of the season with a quad injury and while he hasn't looked like an MVP candidate the last couple of seasons, he's always an intimidating presence at the plate. If the two-time All-Star looks anything like his 2019 self, who belted 41 homers and posted a 1.015 OPS as the AL MVP runner-up, the Red Sox could be in trouble.

8. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros

2021 stats: .294/.359/.557, 30 HR, 92 RBI

Tucker is going to be a problem for years to come. This was the 24-year-old's first full big-league season and a case already could be made for him being Houston's best offensive player. Another season or two with that type of production, and it'll be case closed.

 

7. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros

2021 stats: .279/.366/.485, 26 HR, 92 RBI

Correa is looking to end his Astros tenure with a bang (2017 Astros trash can pun not intended). The two-time All-Star shortstop will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The 27-year-old has been the heart and soul of Houston's lineup for the last seven years and he'll once again be a primary focus in this ALCS.

6. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox

2021 stats: .295/.370/.493, 23 HR, 79 RBI

Bogaerts is red hot after a sluggish ending to the regular season. Boston's prized shortstop propelled his team over the New York Yankees with a two-run home run in the Wild Card game, then went on to hit .350 and belt two more homers vs. the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. A locked-in Bogaerts should terrify this Houston pitching staff.

5. Yordan Alvarez, DH/OF, Astros

2021 stats: .277/.346/.531, 33 HR, 104 RBI

Speaking of terrifying, the Red Sox will want to be really careful with Yordan Alvarez. The 6-foot-5 slugger might be the best pure power hitter in the series. The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in 87 games that season, then this year he went and crushed 33 homers with a .877 OPS. He slugged .636 against the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and will be one of the tougher outs in the Astros lineup again in this round.

4. Kyle Schwarber, OF/1B, Red Sox

2021 stats: .266/.374/.554, 32 HR, 71 RBI

Schwarber raked during his brief stint with the Washington Nationals this year and only got better upon joining Boston's lineup. The 2016 World Series champ posted a ridiculous .435 OBP in 41 games with the Red Sox, proving he brings much more to the table than his power. Schwarber's postseason heroics are well-documented as the veteran slugger has eight homers and a .994 OPS in 29 career playoff games. One of those homers came in the Wild Card game vs. New York, and another came during the ALDS vs. Tampa.

3. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

2021 stats: .278/.350/.489, 31 HR, 83 RBI

Altuve's 2020 season was alarmingly bad, but the 2017 AL MVP enjoyed a bounce-back campaign with 31 homers and a .839 OPS in 2021. He followed that up with a 5-for-16 (.313) performance in the ALDS with two doubles and a homer. Per usual, Altuve will be one of the top Astros to keep an eye on in this series.

2. J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, Red Sox

2021 stats: .286/.349/.518, 28 HR, 99 RBI

Like Altuve, Martinez was awful in 2020. He'll be the first to tell you that. The Red Sox' designated hitter fixed whatever the issue was and returned to form as one of the top hitters in the league this year. Martinez led the majors in doubles with 46 while hitting .286 with 28 home run. He dominated the Rays in the ALDS, going 7-for-15 with a double and a clutch three-run homer. The four-time All-Star will look to dominate his former team just as he did back in the 2018 ALCS.

1. Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox

2021 stats: .279/.352/.538, 38 HR, 113 RBI

It's crazy to think Devers will only be turning 25 years old later this month. Since 2017, the slugging third baseman has become Boston's most feared bat. As long as the arm injury he's been playing through doesn't worsen, Devers will be an imposing presence at the plate in this series. He's coming off a dominant ALDS in which he went 6-for-18 with two home runs, and he played well against the Astros in the 2018 ALCS by going 5-for-15 with a homer. Expect more big moments from him in this year's series.