Looking Ahead to Astros’ 2015: RF is a deja vu of CF discussion of sorts


The right field discussion for the Houston Astros may seem quite redundant – most of these same characters were also part of the centerfield discussion. If George Springer is not the starting CF, he will certainly be the starting RF. If there is not a Colby Rasmus/Jake Marisnick platoon in centerfield, they are likely to be manning (if it is a platoon would they be manning?) right field.

A quick look at the candidates…for right field:

George Springer

This may sound like hyperbole, but I don’t think it is. George Springer’s 78 game debut gave us the most exciting mutli-tool Astros’ rookie since the days of Cesar Cedeno. He was must-see-TV (and I was one of the lucky 40%) – blemishes and all. Blemishes included the .231 BA and the 114 K’s which equates to 237 K’s in a 162 game season (MLB record is held by Mark Reynolds – 223 in 2009). Springer should run to Nike and show how he embodies their Swoosh logo with his swing.

But like a cute date to the prom, the blemishes can be over-looked because the guy scored 46 runs, hit 20 HRs and knocked in 50 runs in only 78 games. And these were impactful HRs and RBIs. He seemed to do something important in almost every game the Astros won during his 1/2 season. He covered ground like Patton’s 3rd army and after making 5 errors in his first 14 games ever playing RF, he settled down to commit only 2 errors in the other 63 games he played in the field.

Colby Rasmus

If you want to see a bit more discussion on his and Marisnick’s stats go here.

https://chipalatta.com/2015/02/03/looking-ahead-to-astros-2015-cf-a-cornucopia-of-choices/

But bottom line is they brought in Rasmus at $8 million to start somewhere. He’s played very little RF, but says he doesn’t care where they play him (Dexter are you reading this?) as long as he has some place to park his ultra-big pickup trucks. I would be happy if he takes over RF and Springer finally gets CF.

Jake Marisnick

Anybody who has 11 OF assists in 94 mlb games played would seem to be destined to play some or a lot of right field. JFSF has to prove the offensive side of his game – most everyone who watched him last season is sold on his defense no matter where he plays.

From the Minors

You would think that the next man up from the minors would be Domingo Santana, who had 0 errors in 59 games in RF for OKC. At 21 he put up 16 HR and 81 RBIs and a very solid .296 BA / .384 OBP / .858 OPS. Yes, he looked totally fish out of water with 14 Ks in 17 MLB ABs in 2014, however… just a reminder that Springer who is 3+ years older than Santana finished last April with 0 HRs and 4 RBIs in 55 ABs including a .182 BA and a gosh awful .480 OPS. Sometimes guys do need to get their feet wet.

The other short-term possibility in RF should be Andrew Aplin. At Corpus he played 55 games in RF and gunned down 12 (TWELVE!) runners. He has not shown the power that Santana has but he is definitely a “Luhnow likes me” high OBP guy (.377 for his minor league career). He could easily end up a long-term 4th OF for someone.

Questions

  • So….Springer in CF and Rasmus in RF or Rasmus in CF and Springer in RF? Or will it be Rasmus in LF, Springer in CF and Marisnick in RF?
  • Does Marisnick get a full-time job with this team or is he the late inning defensive sub and the guy who gets a start every 4th or 5th games?
  • If you have to pull someone up from the minors to play RF, who would it be?
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44 comments on “Looking Ahead to Astros’ 2015: RF is a deja vu of CF discussion of sorts

  1. It’s so hard to speculate about RF because I don’t have a clue who expects to be playing in the OF on opening day. Who doesn’t have a RF arm? Gattis, Grossman, Presley and Hoes. Who has a RF arm? Marisnick, Springer and Rasmus in that order, because Rasmus has a strong arm but it is reportedly not very accurate.
    I guess I go with Rasmus in right because he isn’t making $8 mil on a 1 year deal to sit on the bench on this team and I like Springer in CF.
    Maybe it’s just me, but with Aplin, Tucker, and Santana in AAA being COF, and Rasmus being a 1 year guy(most likely), I see Springer being the best centerfielder we have until Phillips shows up, if and when he shows up. His range in CF is terrific and as a manager I don’t want to waste that.
    If Marisnick suddenly blossoms as a hitter over the offseason(see Miracles chapter 1) then all of the aforementioned goes out the window and Springer goes to RF.

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    • Old pro – It is a toughie. If you wanted a really good defensive OF – you could go Marisnick in RF where his arm is the most dangerous, Springer in CF where he really has the range and Rasmus in LF where his defense would probably be above average. That would be tied to Gattis not playing much LF.
      Hey there are decent options any way.

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      • I like that OF maybe righty/ lefty switches RF and LF- Gatis DH or First. Carter DH 1B , Singleton ??? Wow your right a lot of different choices. Come on Kissimee.

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      • In general you want Springer out there every day – Rasmus is better against righties and Marisnick against lefties and the wild card is – who is the 4th OF.

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      • Dan, I tried to leave LF completely out of the picture, by considering the three guys we know could play RF and do a good job. It came down to the three guys I mentioned and the reason I ended up with Rasmus is because he has a strong enough arm, he is the highest paid OF by far(so sitting him is not preferred), he is a lefty batter, which would be almost a must if Springer/Marisnick or Springer/Gattis are the other two outfielders, and if you move Rasmus at the trade deadline you have a lefty COF in Tucker to slide into the lineup if he’s proven ready.
        Since we know Gattis is not going to be in RF, but could possibly be in LF a lot of the time, I still want the everyday player(Springer) to be the Rock of the OF in CF.
        That leaves Rasmus’s lefty bat in RF.

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    • Kevin – not sure which is the great question – but interesting take. I will say that considering Grossman is almost exactly the same age as Springer and Hoes is younger than those two guys – it might be too early to be over them – Presley at 29 is who he is – the other 2 might have an upside.

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  2. the team wants gattis, rasmus, and springers bats in the lineup as much as possible. if gattis plays OF it will only be in left so i expect when he is out there the combination will probably be one of these:
    gattis lf, rasmus cf, springer rf
    gattis lf, marisnick cf, springer rf
    i agree with old pro that springer belongs in center, but i don’t see the team sending rasmus to rf much and marisnick seems more suited for center than right, so springer ends up in rf more games than not.
    now you could have:
    rasmus lf, marisnick cf, springer rf w/gattis at c, dh or 1b that gets those three bats in the lineup and a pretty good defensive OF as well.
    so we have choices, decent choices, not the lesser of two evil choices we have had in the recent past, i like that.

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  3. It’s difficult to talk about one OF position in this team as so many guys have the flexibility to play all 3.

    Here is guessing, by the signing of Rasmus, that the Astros are intent on playing Springer in RF.

    If the Astros are serious about not playing Gattis in LF that much it must be that Singleton is ticketed for AAA or Carter is on the dealing block. I don’t see anyway this team could go in with 3 DH/1B types in Carter, Gattis, and Singleton AND 5 OF’ers with Grossman, Presley, and Marisnick trying to make this team to join Springer and Rasmus. I just don’t see 8 roster spots being tied up by 4 positions, especially those 4 – which can be interchangeable parts. Here is guessing that Carter is gone by opening day, that Singleton opens at AAA, and either Grossman or Marisnick joins him.

    Now what I would do is different – I would put Springer in CF, Rasmus in RF, and Grossman in LF, with Marisnick and Presley both on the roster. I would move Carter, start Gattis at DH, and play Singleton at 1B until Singleton plays himself out of 1B. Marisnick would see time in RF against lefties and defensive sub in LF whenever possible. He also appears to be a good enough baserunner to replace the Valbuena’s of the world when necessary, as does Presley.

    To me this lineup is lacking balance. OPS will be better, but I fear a disproportianate amount of that is the SLG part of the OPS and not the OBP. High strikeouts will lead to lower averages, which will affect OBP, and create a lot of solo homeruns. I’ll go on record as to say that this team will lead the league in both strikeouts and solo homeruns – and still won’t lead the league in actual homeruns. Marisnick with his lack of power, lack of OBP, and 37% out of strike zone swing percentage is not going to help. Grossman is a better fit for this offense, especially if its LF.

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    • Thanks Steven – you always take a cerebral analytics look at things. I’m guessing Charles Barkley would not be on your side. (For non-NBA fans – Barkley made a non-sensical rant against the Rockets GM – because of how he uses stats in building a roster).
      Do you think it is possible that Luhnow sees the high K / high SLG – not hight enough OBP team as a temporary “bridge” lineup until he can get more of his kind of guys to the majors?
      It will be fascinating to see who ends up on the roster and exactly how Hinch does the mix and match with them in the lineups.

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      • My guess is the average fan looks at 6-4, 225 lbs athletic Marisnick like scouts did in the 1980s Billy Beane (he wrote about this exact thing in Moneyball). Sure, he is big, athletic, and in batting practice probably hits no velocity fastballs down the middle a country mile. In a game, against actual major league pitchers, he does exactly what Beane also did – he swings at too many bad pitches, can’t work counts, and too often hits the pitchers pitch instead of forcing him to come to him.

        Now alot of those qualities can be said about Altuve, minus about a foot in height, but Altuve is batter strong. His instincts in box are as good as anyone, they are like Ichiro/Guerrero level, in that he can level that bat almost anywhere in the zone. It’s not really something that can be taught, its something you have or you don’t, and we can find statistically in BABIPs and batting averages – Altuve didn’t get here needing to improve that substantially, he ALWAYS demonstrated it at every level. Marisnick did in low A, since then, its been degrading at every level as the competition increased.

        Say what you will about Grossman (and I am expecting people to try and turn the analytics against him), but he doesn’t get fooled out of the zone – his O-swing rate is 5% below major league average. He had the third highest OBP on the team last year, and the guy that finished second is gone. There are a ton of periphereal stats that suggest improvement is forthcoming in the classic stats (BA, HR, OBP) in swing rates and contact rates. I don’t find these same patterns in Marisnick, I just see Billy Beane describing himself. Big, strong, good arm, but overmatched by major league pitching.

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      • I’ve always been a bit of a Grossman fan, Steven. Yes – he got off to crummy starts the last couple of seasons and there is an argument to be made that he is the first half .182 BA / .301 OBP / .606 OPS Robbie of 2014 and not the .262 / .357 / .706 second half Robbie. But there is also the fact that he is exactly 3 days older than George Springer. He might be (shock) learning.

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      • Jake is one of the top 10 defensive outfielders in baseball. There is no doubting his ability in CF, his arm in RF, just don’t his ability to hit a ball given 500 plate appearances and 2500-2600 pitches seen.

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      • Yeah – so from a value standpoint if you can use him as the late inning defensive replacement or mostly against left handers…..

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    • *Robbie Grossman struck out 25% of his plate appearances last season. He struck out 105 times in 422 PAs.
      *In 2014, despite the .386 MLB average SLG percentage being the lowest in the last 23 years, Grossman posted an SLG of .337. That is 49 points below the average player in baseball for all positions. Grossman is a COF whose job it is to hit.
      *Grossman’s batting average was .233, or 19 points below the average MLB player. His BA for LFers was ranked #32
      *His OBP is 23 points higher than the average MLB player, but was the 27th ranked left fielder in OBP last year. That’s 27th! The reason he had only the 27th best OBP of left fielders in the league is because he doesn’t hit like a left fielder.
      *Robbie Grossman was the 70th ranked LF in baseball last year for dWAR. Even though he played LF only twice all last year Marisnick had more accumulated dWar in LF than Grossman had playing in LF for 62 games.

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      • The thing about analytics is you can always cherry pick your stats to suit your narrative.

        I see more potential in Grossman as a hitter than I do Marisnick. Not to say Jake doesn’t have his place on a major league roster – I do feel this guy is a legit defender, and range factors and UZR’s match the blind eye.

        Batting average is about the worst way to predict future performance. That .233 batting average was also coupled with a BABIP that he never had at any level, including the majors in 2013. He is a better hitter than that.

        That .337 OBP is the floor for him, but would be a ceiling for Marisnick. There will be literally 50-60 point OBP difference between the two this year if Grossman’s BABIP rebounds to even in between 2013-2014.

        Regardless of where he posts in comparison to other left fielders, we aren’t trying to compare him to those to figure out if he gets the nod, we are comparing him to the rest of THIS roster. I would like to see Gattis in LF TBH, but we as fans aren’t asked, and the Astros (by their own GM’s words) don’t seem intent on seeing him out there. That leaves me to pick between Marisnick, Presley and Grossman. I consider Presley and Grossman the front runners in that battle since LF isn’t a position where defense impacts you more than once every 20 games. I would expect Marisnick to be so much better defensively that he can accumulate a better dWar than everyone on the roster at any OF position. That should tell you what I think of Marisnick holding a bat when I would give PRESLEY a starting nod over Marisnick.

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      • I didn’t cherry pick anything. I laid the stats right out there for everybody to see what kind of left fielder you want to stick out there in the Astros outfield.
        What you lay out there is “I think, I feel, I see” but you actually aren’t seeing it
        What you see is a guy with a lousy arm
        What you see is a guy with no range
        What you see is a guy who doesn’t make good contact
        What you see is a guy who has no power and yet you want him to play LF
        What you see is a guy who walks a lot because he takes pitches and that is also why he strikes out a lot.
        The stats are right there: bad fielding, bad hitting, bad throwing, takes pitches.
        Go ahead and love the guy.

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      • Grossman is a tough one to judge. By the second 1/2 of 2014 he had about 400 mlb ABs under his belt and in the last 1/2 of 2014 he put up .262 BA / .357 OBP / .706 OPS. Which is decent. Still struck out too much.
        Maybe it is the Carlos Lee / Chris Carter in LF comparison – but I did not wince when balls were hit out to LF with him there. Strangely, had 5 assists in 32 games in RF, but only 1 in 62 games in LF. Maybe they just liked to test him more first to third when he was in RF.
        I don’t know how they picture him really. They’ve seen a lot more than him than they have Presley – but they surprisingly gave Presley the contract.(Though they reportedly tried to sign him longer term last off-season)
        Somebody is not going to make the team out of ST of the OF bench and I do not know who it is going to be.

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  4. I think they are going to go with Springer in RF, Rasmus in CF and Marisnick in LF. I would prefer Springer in CF, platoon Rasmus/Marisnick in RF and RG in LF.

    On a separate note I like the Roberto Hernandez signing to a minor league contract over the possible Barry Zito signing. Fausto is a much better choice.

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  5. O.K. Dan, it seems I always have to nit pick something you write. So here goes. I believe that any stat of OF assists is similar to interceptions by a corner back, or caught stealing by a catcher. (Now I am not saying Jake has a weak arm). I am saying that over time, they will not attempt the extra base and his assists may come down. Similar to initially people running on Hunter Pence and his “chicken wing.” So if you look at Y Molina or Jason Castro, Castro threw out more runners. But that was because they ran on him more that twice as often. Other than that one “nit” – another excellent article. In fact all three of you need a “Atta Boy” and two “Way to Goes.”

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    • I guess I am thinking that if somebody guns a bunch of people down before they have a book on them – that means they have a good arm. And I would not mind having runners hold up just because they are scared of Jake’s arm.
      Just my thought you cotton picking nit-picker. 🙂

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      • In a grumpy mood because of work Astro colt 45.
        As Lloyd Bridges said in “Airplane” – I picked a bad week to quit sniffing glue….
        You put tyhose OFs wherever you want

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      • My mother taught 1st grade for almost 50 years. Her favorite story was two little boys got into a fight. She grabbed them by one arm each and took them behind the bulletin board and asked, “Who started this fight.” One little boy between crying and sobbing said, “It started …… when he hit….. me back.”

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  6. In the past, I’ve been a big advocate of Marisnick in CF if he’s in the lineup. But I think I’m sold in Springer in CF and Marisnick/Rasmus in RF. Marisnick’s arm — Springer has a great arm too — would play well in RF.

    If we need someone from the farm, I’d rather see Aplin and his OBP and defense. This team has enough power hitters who whiff and can’t play defense.

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  7. I have to think they are going to platoon Marisnick and Rasmus, for the most part. Rasmus may get some starts against LH pitching, but Marisnick is serviceable, offensively, against LH pitching and with his superior defense they need to get him in there when they can.

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    • I agree Tim – I just don’t know what position the platoon will happen. They will also use Marisnick to give the other OFs a day off or if Springer is DH’ing once in a while.

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  8. One thing that always intrigues me is why a team gives up on a player (or at least is willing to part ways). An example, I have been hard on Matty D – but I would still dump 1/2 a year of Carlos Lee and take him. So the question is why did Miami give up on Matty? Now take Rasmus. It would appear that Toronto has a “JFSF” for CF (Dalton Pompey)? Pompey vs. Jake in the minors is comparable. So they granted Rasmus Free agency. Maybe it was the $8 Million? As to the Braves, they chose Bethancourt over Gattis. Did they see “injury prone?” Did they believe Gattis would work better as a DH – so trade him to the AL? If I were JL, I make both deals. But their former bosses determined for some reason – they were expendable or at least replaceable.

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    • Yes, but that can apply to the players the Astros gave up as well. Shouldn’t the Braves GM be questioning why the Astros would be willing to give up their #3 rated prospect who reaches 100 MPH on the radar gun for an injury-prone C/OF? Shouldn’t the Angels GM wonder why we gave up a top 10-15 prospect pitcher with outstanding control for, essentially, a backup catcher? These questions go both ways.

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      • Sure – trade dynamics are an interesting topic that rarely gets broached with the traders – the GMs will spend a lot more time explaining why they got somebody than explaining the real reason someone went away.

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    • Look at Gattis’ monthly performance numbers and health history. The Braves tried to rebuild via FA a few years back and it failed. They are trying to repopulate their talent pool in advance of their new stadium in Cobb County in a few years, and were selling high on Gattis. It’s similar to when we traded Lowrie away.

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    • The philosophy behind any trade is always interesting. We apparently traded Lowrie away but still liked him enough to re-sign him. But we traded him when we needed some prospects and near to the major leaguers more than we needed him.
      I’m sure some get traded for attitude, some for not being the right fit (low OBP in a high OBP organization) and some get traded because the team can’t convince the other team to take some one else.
      Some of these guys are damaged goods and some are just at the wrong place wrong time.

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  9. I don’t see JFSF having enough offensive impact to stay in the lineup for 500 AB. I think we see Gattis in LF, Rasmus in CF, and Springer gets stuck in RF. I assume Luhnow wants to see Teoscar , Phillips, or Aplin to lay claim to CF of the future…although our best chances of short term success have Rasmus playing well and getting extended.

    Ideally they let the best performances this Spring dictate player placement, but when you give up top ten prospects for Gattis and a rotation piece for both JFSF and Conger, you have to believe Luhnow wants them to get extra chances to succeed.

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