MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Correa a special, humble player

Winning, not personal achievements, is all that matters

Correa a special, humble player

KANSAS CITY -- A day later and the memories lingered for Astros rookie Carlos Correa.

It was bugging him.

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Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 HOU 5, KC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 9 KC 5, HOU 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 HOU 4, KC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 12 KC 9, HOU 6
Gm 5 Oct. 14 KC 7, HOU 2

Yeah, he became the youngest player in American League history to hit two home runs in a postseason game on Monday. And he did become the first rookie in Major League history to have four hits and four RBIs in a postseason game.

It didn't mean a lot.

There was, after all, that bad-hop ground ball that was ruled an error on Correa and was such a critical part of the Royals being able to rally in the eighth inning to turn a four-run deficit into a 9-6 victory over the Astros that evened the best-of-five AL Division Series at two games each, sending the two teams back to Kauffman Stadium for a deciding Game 5 to be played Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

"I missed it, I missed it," Correa explained to the waves of reporters that approached him in the aftermath of that game at Minute Maid Park. "I wish I was perfect. I wish I could do everything perfect, but I'm not. I'm human."

And thanks to baseball's postseason, just three weeks past his 21st birthday, the nation's sporting public is getting a chance to see what all the fuss is over the kid from Puerto Rico who with just 99 regular-season big league games under his belt is emerging as the face of the Astros' franchise, the foundation in the team's clubhouse.

"He is not sneaking up on anybody anymore,'' said Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who is a member of baseball's 3,000-hit club and a seven-time All-Star who is a special assistant to general manager Jeff Luhnow. "He is special."

Statcast: Correa's two homers

That was evident in Correa's big league debut.

"His first game in Chicago, there was so much attention on him and he was showing up to face Chris Sale,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "The organization waited so long to get this type of player of this type of magnitude into an Astros uniform. We lose the game. He gets his first Major League hit. All he wanted to talk about postgame was that we didn't win the game. Day one."

Get the picture?

"This guy's mature beyond his years, so I don't have to encourage him," said Hinch. "I don't have to pick his chin up. I don't have to do anything other than show the consistency that I do with him, knowing that he'll bounce back fine. He's Carlos Correa. He's exceptional."

Correa gets it.

"Maturity, that's the word that keeps coming up," said Biggio. "There's usually a learning curve when you get to the big leagues about offense, defense, being a leader.

"You don't expect a guy who just turned 21 to be a leader and hit third for a contender."

But Correa is barely 21 and does hit third for the Astros.

"He is in his rookie season and doesn't even have a beard," said Biggio. "There's so much going on up here when you first get here at 23, 24, but he's dealt with it and he was 20 when he got here. When I was 20, I was a sophomore [at Seton Hall]. I was dreaming about the big leagues, not hitting third for a team in the postseason."

Correa certainly isn't one of those bug-eyed kids in awe of his surroundings.

Even after the loss on Monday -- when the ball on which Correa was charged with an error that hit off the pitcher's mound and then, Biggio thinks, hit a divot in the infield created by a cleat -- he wasn't fazed. Correa didn't hide in a back room. Correa stood at his locker, and when the waves of media came looking for explanations, he never offered an excuse. Correa said the focus was on disappointment of the team losing, not what he did, good or bad.

"I believe it all starts in the home," said Biggio. "He respects his parents. His father worked extra jobs to get the money to make sure Carlos could have the opportunity to do what he wanted. A lot of parents do that, but not all kids appreciate that. He does."

And Correa has made good on the opportunity his parents provided.

Think about it. Correa was the No. 1 player selected in the 2012 Draft. He made his big league debut three years and one day after he signed his first professional contract. Correa was three months and two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.

Correa opened the season at Double-A, and after 29 games, he was promoted to Triple-A, where he played in 24 games before getting the call to the big leagues, filling the void created by the loss of Jed Lowrie to the disabled list five weeks earlier.

Correa was ready for the big time. His 22 home runs ranked fourth among Major League rookies, four fewer than Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers, both of whom appeared in 52 more games than Correa, and one less than Justin Bour of the Marlins, who appeared in 30 more games.

Correa's 68 RBIs were second on the Astros to Evan Gattis, who drove in 88 in 172 more plate appearances, and Correa's .279 batting average was second on the team to Jose Altuve, who hit .313.

Correa's wow factor is off the charts, but it is not a distraction for Correa or his teammates.

"Humility is an amazing quality," said Biggio. "To be a special player and have humility is not unnoticed by his teammates, the media and fans."

Correa is both: A special player and humble.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.