Coming off an Astros’ 2014 season of improvement, possibly no position provided more improvement than second base and possibly no position provides more of a challenge heading into 2015 than first base. Here is a look at each position last season and the outlook for 2015.
In the afterglow of a tremendous 2014 season, it is almost impossible to remember what the feeling was about Jose Altuve after the 2013 season.
In 2013, Altuve had a solid .283 BA, but posted not very robust numbers for OBP (.316) and OPS (.678). For perspective, Robbie Grossman in 2014 had a .337 OBP and a .670 OPS. And Jose led the league in caught stealing (13) and ran into many an out on the base paths. He seemed like a candidate to be sent packing in some shrewd off-season trade.
Apparently, the Astros’ brass thought it might not be time to give up on their 23-year-old (at the time) second baseman (eight months younger than George Springer) and he worked his buns off and was a revelation for the Astros in 2014.
You’ve seen the stats before, but let’s visit them one more time for fun.
- 1st in the majors in BA (.341) and hits (225)
- 2nd in the AL / 3rd in the majors in doubles (47)
- 1st in the AL / Tied for 2nd in the majors in SBs (56)
- Most multi-hit games in the majors (69) and he also had 24 three hit games and 5 four hit games this season
- Among 2Bs in the majors – he is 1st in Hits, doubles and BA, 2nd in OBP (.377) and OPS (.830), 3rd in SLG (.453) and 4th in runs scored (85)
He cleaned up his base running, stealing 56 of 65 bases and became the head cheerleader and de facto leader of the club.
So when we are talking about second base for 2015 and beyond (he is signed through 2017 with reasonable team options for 2018 and 2019) we are talking about Jose Altuve.
Astros – Second Base – 2015 – Jose Altuve – Enough said, next topic.
One surprise pops out when looking at the Astros’ cumulative team stats for first base: Jon Singleton, while not lifting the stats up also did not drag them down. That is almost hard to believe but here are Singleton’s numbers for the slightly more than half a season that he manned first base vs. the combined stats of Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss and Chris Carter on the days they played 1B.
|Stat||Singleton (ABs while at 1B)||Guzman/ Krauss / Carter (ABs at 1B)|
|BA / OBP||.171/ .289||.164 / .261|
|SLG / OPS||.342 / .631||.266 / .527|
|R / RBI||42 / 44||18 / 18|
As bad as Singleton’s numbers were, the numbers of the other guys on the days they were playing 1B were much worse, especially in run production.
Overall, the Astros’ first basemen were last in the AL in BA/OBP/SLG/OPS and RBIs, next to last in runs scored and 9th in HRs.
They were putrid. So what to do?
One way of looking at Singleton’s numbers is that if he had taken all 560 ABs at 1B this year that even with the terrible BA/OBP/SLG/OPS – he was on pace for 77 R / 24 HR / 81 RBIs. Oh, and a major league record 246 Ks.
Another way of looking at his numbers: If he repeated his September numbers over 560 ABs, he would end up with 61 R / 12 HR / 37 RBI with a .109 BA/.241 OBP/.217 SLG / .458 OPS. Oh, and a major league record 316 K’s.
Based on the improvement seen with Chris Carter from one season to the next – the Astros’ probably will roll the dice and see if Jon Singleton can raise himself up to a livable batting average and lower himself down to a livable strikeout rate.
If not – the options would seem to be:
- Krauss (.146/.234/.271/.504) or Carter (.109/.236/.239/.475) – with the thought being that their unbelievably bad numbers while playing 1B were just a fluke based on few ABs.
- Matt Duffy, who played decent 1B at OKC with a solid, unspectacular bat.
- Mystery free agent
- Mystery trade target
The mystery free agents (if we assume guys like Billy Butler have their option picked up) include Adam Dunn, Michael Cuddyer, Corey Hart, Paul Konerko, Victor Martinez, Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse, and God help us Carlos Pena.
These guys all have some things in common, such as being on the wrong side of 30 years old and the fact that none are even half time first basemen. Guys like Dunn, Hart and Konerko seem to be on a downward arc. Martinez would be a great pickup on a short contract which he probably does not want (and with the understanding he would DH more than 1B). Cuddyer would be an interesting choice, if you don’t believe Colorado inflated his numbers and if you believe you could squeeze 130 games out of him like in 2013 rather than 49 games like in 2014.
Mystery trade target will not be speculated here, yet…..
- What are your thoughts about Altuve and 2015? Is there any upside or only some regression?
- How would you handicap percentage-wise of who is likely to be the main manat1B fortheAstros in 2015?
- Jon Singleton
- Chris Carter
- Marc Krauss
- A current Astro minor leaguer
- A 1B picked up in free agency
- A 1B picked up in a trade
- And if the first baseman you want is not currently on the team, who do you think the Astros should pursue?