With the arrival of Evan Gattis, it seems clear the Astros are looking to get a little offense out of left field.
Gattis, acquired from the Braves, is the Carlos Lee-esque player who has no real defensive home, but has a bat that necessitates a spot in the lineup.
A look at Houston’s 40-man roster shows a whole host of possible left fielders. In fact, of the seven outfielders listed on the 40-man — plus Chris Carter, who is listed simply as a DH and Evan Gattis who is, humorously, listed as a catcher — about the only player I can’t imagine in left field is George Springer. If Springer is in the lineup, I’m guessing he’s in center or right.
Of the rest, here they are in descending order of how likely I think we’ll see them standing in front of the Crawford Boxes. (Because the Astros will certainly use more than one left fielder over the course of 162 games, the percentages will total well past 100 percent.)
1. About 80 percent, Evan Gattis. In 369 ABs, Gattis compiled an .810 OPS with a 26.3 K% and just a 5.6 BB%. He hit 22 HRs and knocked in 57 runs.
2. About 60 percent, Robbie Grossman. In 360 ABs, Grossman earned a .670 OPS with a 29.2 K% and an impressive 13.5 BB%. He hit 6 HRs and brought 37 runs. In Grossman’s case, he’s a better hitter from the left side, so if the Astros were going to platoon anyone with their many right-handed hitters in left field, Grossman might be a possibility. Of course, his splits as a left-handed hitter aren’t exactly spectacular.
3. About 20 percent, Alex Presley. In 254 AB, Presley had a .628 OPS, 17.3 K%, 4.9 BB%, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs. With a $1 million deal, Presley would have seemed a likely bench option, but with so many options, I wonder if Presley will be dealt.
4. About 15 percent, Colby Rasmus. 346 ABs, .735 OPS, 35.8 K%, 7.7 BB%, 18 HRs, 40 RBIs. Rasmus is a pretty good defensive outfielder, and if Hinch played everyone where they belonged defensively, Rasmus would go to left when Marisnick and Springer are in the game.
5. About 15 percent, Chris Carter. 507 ABs, .799 OPS, 35.9 K%, 10.9 BB%, 37 HRs, 88 RBIs. Like Gattis, this would be a play about the offense.
6. About 10 percent, Domingo Santana. Looking only at his AAA numbers, 443 ABs, .858 OPS, 33.6 K%, 12.6 BB%, 16 HRs, 81 RBIs. While I’d bet Santana starts the season in AAA again, he’s likely to get a peek at MLBÃÂ pitching in Houston.
7. About 4 percent, L.J. Hoes. 122 ABs, .517 OPS, 25.4 K%. 7.6 BB%, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs. Every roster move seems like an opportunity to cut Hoes. I’m sure Hoes starts the season in AAA and probably only gets to Houston in some weird emergency.
8. About 3 percent, Jake Marisnick. 221 ABs, .607 OPS, 30.3 K%. 4.7 BB%, 3 HRs, 19 RBIs.ÃÂ JFSF is much more likely to play right or center, still if he shows up in left it shouldn’t be a complete shock. Oh, and those K% and BB% are not as good as his MiLB numbers, so maybe JFSF can improve in 2015.
9. About 1 percent, George Springer. Like JFSF, I don’t see Springer shifting to left field. the numbers go something like this: 295 ABs, .804 OPS, 38.6 K%, 11.7 BB%, 20 HRs, 51 RBIs. In half a season, Springer put up some amazing numbers, and he’s definitely going to get better once his K% comes down a bit.
- It’s likely Hinch plays a sub-par defender in LF in 2015. Is the offense from Gattis or Carter good enough to offset the Carlos Lee-ian glove work?
- About the best option for a good defender is Grossman in left. Are his 2014 numbers good enough for you?
- Several of these options are really just in case of emergency, though that emergency is likely to be Singleton being sent down, Carter moved to 1B and Gattis moved to DH. If that happens, who should Hinch play at LF?
- The “Big Question” for this off season. Are the Astros better off in 2015 at LF than they were last year?