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Astros: The Dusty First Base Experiment

Disclaimer: I will admit upfront this is my opinion mixed with facts. It will be FAR more fact based than what was said by the Astros manager.

Chandler Rome posted these comments on X (Twitter):

Dusty Baker: "The other guys that are playing first haven’t shown that they have earned that yet, either. You just can’t give it to them. We’re not in the experimenting (business). We’ll see how that goes before we start talking about timeshare."

Dusty Baker does not want the Astros to EXPERIMENT at first base. THIS is his reason for not turning to Yainer Diaz and/or Jon Singleton fully while Jose Abreu is out with a back injury for who knows how long. What does this even mean?

Note: Abreu is on the IL now and Hensley has been recalled.

What HE SHOULD have said was this:

"We have been working with Yainer Diaz on the side all season to make sure IF there was a significant injury to Abreu, that he would be ready to at least time-share in that position. He has some of the most experience on our team at first base. I am confident that with the work he has done with Espada and the other guys he can step in now if we need him too.

Singleton coming up this week also makes that situation easier now than it has been all season. Jon has a lot of experience in over a decade of playing first base. He and Yainer can cover the position. I am confident."

It is pretty easy. Why didn't Dusty SAY something like that?

  1. He doesn't believe that. He only trusts in players 35+ years old. He will slam anyone younger than that for ANY reason- even his All-stars.

  2. He doesn't get how bad Abreu has been defensively this year.

  3. He is stubborn and doesn't care what anyone thinks.

  4. He thinks we are stupid and don't realize he HAS been experimenting ALL YEAR with substitute starters at 1B.

Abreu has been bad defensively this year

Dusty's entire mindset in his comment is flawed. He seems to be projecting that Abreu has been so great that no one else could POSSIBLY match that great fielding. Therefore, in his mind EVERYONE is an experiment compared to Abreu. This is just false.

Baseball Savant 1B Fielding Run Value

Per baseball savant, Abreu is 18 out of 23 1B with more than 500 innings at 1B.

MLB Fielding Run Value

Abreu was 9th out of 32 1B last year. (Gurriel was 30th but that is another subject.) I honestly think that Dusty does not know how bad Abreu this year has been.

Not buying it based on only this baseball savant metric? Here is a breakdown from Fangraphs:

  1. Defensive Runs Saved- 18th of 23

  2. Outs About Average- 18th of 23

  3. Defensive WAR- 18th of 23

Can you agree that Abreu, while not the complete train wreck Gurriel was defensively last year, has been significantly below average defensively?

First Base HAS been an experiment ALL YEAR behind Abreu

Astros 1B

The following players have played 1B for the Astros other than Abreu. In order of experience

  • Singleton - 59 innings this year - ZERO innings in MLB in 2021-2022 - 1522 innings in MiLB in 2021-2023

  • Diaz - 27 innings this year - ZERO innings in MLB in 2021-2022 - 412 innings in MiLB in 2021-2023

  • Hensley - 30.1 innings this year - ZERO innings in MLB in 2021-2022 - 202.2 innings in MiLB in 2021-2023

  • Kessinger - 23 innings this year - ZERO innings in MLB in 2021-2022 - 10 innings in MiLB in 2021-2023

  • Dubon - 17 innings this year - ZERO innings in MLB in 2021-2022 - ZERO innings in MiLB in 2021-2023

The third most experienced 1B the Astros had before this week was Madris

  • Madris - 16 innings this year - 59 innings in MLB in 2021-2022 - 283 innings in MiLB in 2021-2023

The manager that refuses to experiment at 1B started Dubon TWICE at 1B when he had NEVER played an inning at 1B before.

The manager that refuses to experiment at 1B started Kessinger TWICE at 1B when he had ONLY played 10 innings at 1B in the minors before. Maybe he believed in the 101 FALL League innings at 1B.

Of all of the ridiculous things Dusty Baker has said this year, this in the top 5. Someone should let him know he has ALREADY been running crazy experiments!

Dusty, it is NOT an experiment to play Diaz and Singleton at First Base. Your bench coach said Yainer just needed the chance to prove himself.

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