Astros fans are having a hard time adjusting to the realities of the 2023 season. If you were a reader here all offseason, maybe you were prepared.
After multiple years of deep postseason runs and many, many trades that sold of a score of prospects and two seasons without top draft picks, the Houston Astros do not have many more top prospects that can be expected to really make a huge difference this season.
The Astros have played six position player rookies (per Fangraphs) this year so far. Julks and Diaz are key contributors.
The Astros have played seven pitcher rookies this year so far. Brown, France, Blanco, and Martinez have been pressed into critical service.
The Astros have a few position player prospects remaining that COULD have an impact on the team this year: Lee, Dirden, and maybe Leon. Gilbert is struggling in AA.
The Astros BIGGEST needs from a projected WAR standpoint for the rest of 2023 are catcher and first base. The Astros have catcher covered with Diaz and Lee. The most likely next prospect at 1B is Matijevic and Loperfido. Matijevic has been OK but not great this year in AAA.
The Astros tried Hensley a few times at 1B; but overall, he needed to go back down to AAA for more development.
The Astros played Madris today. As I wrote, he is a possible backup at 1B, but I am not sure we know if he is really significant help.
I gave you a bunch of names. How have some of these guys actually done in AAA, and if you wanted help from AAA in 2023 which of these five players would you pick?
(All stats are through 6/23 and come from Fangraphs.com or Baseball Savant.)
You probably are complaining that you do not have some basic data like age and more than just their 2023 AAA basic stats. Of course, but you know there is a reason for this.
Let me take you back to the year 2014. The Astros were just starting to escape from the baseball hell that was 2011-2013 for Astros fans. Young players were taking over for the Astros. A 24-year-old Jose Altuve was having a 5+ WAR season and Astros fans had someone to cheer for. A transformational rookie George Springer had been up, and the Astros offense was average! Their 99 wRC+ on 6/2/14 was miles ahead of the embarrassing batting of 2010-2013. On 6/3/14, another rookie was called up to further boost that offense. His name is Jon Singleton.
I snuck in a ringer to that list, didn't I? He is a little older than the others in 2023. His name AGAIN is Jon Singleton. Here is the table with alll of the names and age data.
Ask any Astros fan that was a fan for the bad years and they will have a take on Jon Singleton- most of them negative. The way I remember things is that the Astros moved on from Singleton mainly because of weed. Maybe that was a false rumor as many things in sports media are, but let's assume for a minute it wasn't. Yes, EIGHT YEARS ago- weed. Today, there are so many CBD products and even weed itself that I am not sure it would be an issue today.
You may be wondering "If Singleton was so good in AAA, why did the Brewers let him go this year?" Well, Singleton has been somewhat the definition of the AAAA Player. Here are his AAA and AA stats.
Wow that is a GREAT prospect, right? Imagine you are 2014 and 2015 Astros fan again suffering in 2014 and hopeful in 2015. Alternately, imagine you are 2023 Brewers fans again needing more help. Singleton is called up and this is how he does.
Look at the strikeout numbers!
Milwaukee dumped Singleton because he was TERRIBLE in the brief 32 PA he was given.
So far, I have shown you the good and the bad of Singleton. WHY would the Astros take this flyer?
The Astros are a better hitting team vs. LHP (wRC+ 108) than they are vs. RHP (wRC+ 96).
Here are the position player stats vs. RHP. I have lightened the font for Alvarez (IL) and Hensley (AAA). I projected the likely lineup IF the Astros chose to play Diaz in place of Maldonado. Maldy is actually a 93 wRC+ player vs. LHP and I think he should get those starts to keep him engaged but I digress. The data vs. RHP:
IF the Astros played Diaz at catcher vs. RHP and the rest of this group, there would be really one true trouble spot- 1B. If the Astros just got 2014-2015 Singleton, who was such a disappointment, it would be better than what they have gotten so far vs. RHP at 1B.
What if the Brewers quit on Singleton too quickly? As shown above he was very good in both 2022 and in early 2023 in AAA. As shown below, Singleton was EXCELLENT vs. RHP.
The question with Singleton may simply come down to can he adjust to the big leagues. Could Singleton help the Astros in the one most critical hole in their offense- 1B vs. RHP? Can Jon Singleton save the Astros offense in 2023? He could not as a 22- and 23-year-old in 2014 or 2015, but could he as a 31-year-old in 2023? We shall see.
Maybe we will be disappointed as they were in Milwaukee. Maybe Singleton will shine.
Here is the reality. Bligh Madris was called up this week and he too has a large platoon split with a 0.927 OPS vs. RHP in AAA this year. While he is getting his shot Singleton will be able to show the Astros organization what he can do in AAA.
Dana Brown is giving himself OPTIONS. Abreu is getting better; but if the Astros want a LHB to help vs. RHP, Singleton COULD be the answer. Let me know what you think
Note: in case you want the vs. LHP data, I have included it below.
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