Opening Day: Outfield and “No” field (or DH)

Yep, there’s going to be some changes in the outfield … unless you’re talking about Robbie Grossman, who was all over the outfield last year and will be starting this year. None of last year’s starters in the outfield will start in it this year.

Though Chris Carter will be batting from the pine.

Left Field

Opening Day 2013: Our opening day left fielder was Chris Carter. Not a bad hitter for the season in some ways. He put up a season-long slash line of .223/.320/.451 including a team-leading 29 bombs. Carter had slightly better numbers as a left fielder, racking up an .818 OPS. It’s a good thing he hit better as a left fielder than elsewhere, because his actual left fielding kind of stunk.

You can read other Astros’ comparisons today:

Majority of 2013: The majority of at-bats in left field last year belonged to former Astro J.D. Martinez. After J.D., the guy with the most at-bats while playing left field was Robbie Grossman, who put up a .302/.348/.436 slash line in left and a .268/.332.370 line overall. In 257 Abs, he whiffed 70 times. A far cry from the strike out rate of Carter.

Opening Day 2014: Grossman will open for Houston in left field this season. In some ways, this is a plus for Houston, and in others it’s a balance. Grossman, Carter and Krauss are all current Astros. Between them, they made up more than 300 of the left field at-bats. So, that’s about some of the same.

But getting Carter out of left field would definitely be a plus. Krauss is a better fielder, and that’s saying something. Furthermore, there’s some addition by subtraction going on. No more at-bats to J.D. Martinez, Jake Elmore or Fernando Martinez.

Center Field

Opening Day 2013: After a decent 2012, Justin Maxwell opened in CF last season. In 90 at-bats, Jmax put up a line of .233/.296/.378. Yep, it was that bad.

Majority of 2013: Then, riding in on his Tal’s Hill-climbing steed came Brandon Barnes. OK, so Barnes’ offense wasn’t spectacular. But that defense made it all worthwhile, even with just a .240/.289/.346 line.

Opening Day 2014: Yep, this year will be different. Barnes is gone. JMax is gone. Grossman, who took the next-most at-bats in center, is going to spend most of 2014 in left field. This year it’s all about Dexter Fowler, who put up a .263/.369/.407 line. The big questions revolve around whether his offense translates to sea level, and if his defense is better when he’s not roaming the wide confines of Coors Field.

Right Field

Opening Day 2013: Well, are we talking about who started the game or who finished it? Brandon Barnes started the game and Rick Ankiel finished it … literally. Both are gone.

Most of 2013: Who played the most right field in 2013? Take a guess. Anyone? Anyone? Coming in at 154 at-bats in right field was none other than (drum roll) L.J. Hoes. Yep, I was shocked too. Hoes, who totaled 171 at-bats (including those 3 with Baltimore before he crossed the stadium), put up a .282/.332/.365 line. Jimmy Paredes, J.D. Martinez, Ankiel, Trevor Crowe, Maxwell and Barnes make up Nos. 2-8 on the list. Marc Krauss was No. 9. with 27 at-bats.

Opening Day 2014: Yeah, I know Hoes and Alex Presley are supposed to be platooning, but I’m going to go with Hoes against the Yankees (spit!) on opening day. And I’m guessing that until mid-June at the latest Hoes will be putting in the bulk of the time out there until You Know Who gets called up from Oklahoma City.

Designated Hitter

Opening Day 2013: Carlos Pena. The man knew how to draw a walk. We’re looking at a slash line of .207/.321/.346.

Most of 2013: Pena wasn’t the guy with the most at-bats at the no-glove spot in the lineup. That’d be Chris Carter who put up a line of .209/.307/.442 while DH-ing.

Opening Day 2014: Carter, whose overall slash last season was .223/.320/.451 with 29 Hrs but 212 Ks. Yep, we’re hoping for better contact in 2014.

12 comments on “Opening Day: Outfield and “No” field (or DH)

  1. Good job on a short schedule Brian.
    Yes, Hoes having the most at bats in RF was a surprise – what is the old joke – if you have 2 starting QBs you have no starting QBs? If you have 9 RFs you don’t even have one back-up?
    This would be a much more exciting category if you-know-who was here rather than in OKC. I guess Springer is becoming like Lord Voldemort – he-who-shall-not-be-named.
    I’m hopeful that Grossman develops into a middle of the road OF. I am wary of Fowler – I don’t like how those stats translate here and I am totally unexcited about Presley/Hoes except that the OF should rarely see Chris Carter watching pop-ups fall in front of him.
    Hopefully Carter will make just a little bit, teensy-weensy improvement in making contact as a DH. A .250 BA would mean a lot….


    • Dan, I stopped counting at nine right fielders. Chris Carter played a few games out there for example. Just thought it was interesting that so many of our right fielders moved on. I think that helps explain the billion lineups Porter wrote, and why our outfield production stunk so badly.


  2. We are better w/ Grossman in left defensively and offensively because we don’t lose Carter’s bat(DHing) but we do lose his glove and gain Grossman’s OBP. We are just plain better in CF w/ Fowler than the broken parts we had in CF last year. Fowler will settle down the outfield play and be more productive at the plate.
    I love the tandem in RF because it’s the thing to do if Springer’s not here. The two are average at RF, Hoes is not a rookie anymore and Presley wants to prove something and platooning gives good looks at the plate, especially in the 8 hole.
    DH is better because Carter now feels like he fits in with his teammates and the fans and he will hit better in MMP this year. I think the fans got to him last year but he survived and is now a fixture in the lineup. I credit Luhnow and Porter for keeping Carter from sinking last year.


  3. Not a big fan of approaching it by position. I would rather talk about the synergy the batting order will have together and then build the defense around that – of course assuming they can passably play the position.

    Did I miss the annual picks segment?


  4. II’m game for the usual pick your division winners – MVP’s – Cy Youngs, WC’s. Would make for interesting discussion and break up the monotony of talking about which bad players we pick to play badly for the home town 9.


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