I am getting a consistent question although it is not always framed this open-endedly. The question is essentially:
What should the Astros do with Dubon when Altuve returns?
For most of the season I have deflected this question. I was not confident that Altuve would be back until late June. I was consistently saying just wait until that time comes, we will know a lot more then.
Well, it looks like Altuve's return is close. Now what?
Let me start with saying something I tweeted recently. Do not judge the worth of an MLB player solely based on their batting average. Let's illustrate.
Among 171 qualified hitters:
Dubon is 12th in batting average. This is incredible.
Dubon is 171st (LAST) in walk percentage- 3.2%. I bet no one has told you that. I just did.
Dubon is good at not striking out 14th lowest in this group.
Dubon's OBP is 89th in this group. Not bad. Not incredible.
Dubon has a 0.354 BABIP vs. a career average of 0.287. What does that mean? He has been VERY lucky.
Dubon's 0.723 OPS is 104th in the group and slightly below the 0.729 MLB average.
Dubon hits with almost no power- 0.081 Iso- 162nd in this group
Dubon's 101 wRC+ is 106th in the group and is slightly above average.
Because he doesn't strike out and hits into contact a lot, Dubon is tied for 6th in this group with 8 GIDP.
Let me be clear. I AM NOT throwing shade at Mauricio Dubon. I think it is very important to understand who he is EVEN when I would argue he is being his best self.
Those bullet points direct us to one conclusion. Among the starters today (other qualified hitters), Dubon is fairly average to below average.
Dubon is a VERY GOOD bat to have on the bench. This Dubon would be a great option to lead off the 8th or 9th inning pinch hitting for Maldonado.
Dubon is a very good fielding second baseman. He might be a good option for a defensive replacement for Altuve.
Defensive Metrics at 2B in 2023
tied 3rd of 19
16th of 19
tied 6th of 19
5th of 19
Dubon is a serviceable SS and would be a good option to give Pena an occasional day off.
Dubon is a below average CF. I hope the Astros do not plan to play him a lot in CF.
Dubon has played sparingly at 3B. If the Astros intend for him to play there, they will need to have him work out there before they could option both Julks and Hensley.
Dubon has played even less LF and RF than 3B. He has never played 1B. I do not expect Dubon will be asked to do any of those things.
Dubon is a better version of who you thought he was before the season started- a utility player that can fill in mainly in the middle infield. Dubon is not who you probably think he is now- a critical member of this lineup that MUST be allocated playing time.
So back to the question- What should the Astros do with Dubon when Altuve returns?
- They should time share him with Altuve as Jose gets fully back to himself. Probably 30% of 2B PA can go to Dubon and let Altuve DH some of those days.
- They should lighten what has been a huge load on Pena at SS by letting Dubon take 10% of the remaining PA there.
- As I showed in the link below there are certain pitchers that Dubon is a better option than Meyers or McCormick- Changeup dominant RHP and Cutter dominant LHP. If the more advanced metrics the Astros have agree with that do not be surprised to see Dubon to get some LIMITED time in CF say less than 10%.
- If Dubon's 3B workouts look good, I can see him giving Bregman a rare break say 5%.
- Use Dubon in a late inning lead off PH or a bat needed to move the runners over sacrifice bunt PH opportunity. (No more double plays though!)
If the Astros do all of that with Dubon, don't be surprised if his production suffers some with all of the changing roles. Fangraphs projects Astros to have about 500 PA at each spot left. I think Dubon in this super utility role would end the season with 250-300 more PA. That would give Dubon about 400-450 PA for the season.
That is what I would suggest the Astros do with Dubon when Altuve returns. Tell me what you think.
Before you go. Altuve is back TODAY. Read what we said about Altuve HERE.