Updated: Mar 23, 2022
I am here to help you understand why the Astros have signed Niko Goodrum. When considering why a team does a transaction it is important to understand the context of that deal. By context I mean what were the team's needs and how does the player added fit with the other players on the team. This is what you need to understand the Astros signing Niko Goodrum.
At this point, I would ask you read the "Astros 2022 Season Guide - The Essentials" article to ground you on what the Astros needs were.
Two key statements I made in the January Season Guide are key here in red.
Under Team Greatest Weaknesses
"Both Center Field and Shortstop are depending on rookies or second year players. Pena at SS and McCormick/ Meyers in CF may outperform their projections, but it is a performance risk. Read more about Pena here. Read more about McCormick and Meyers here."
The Astros were putting a lot into the hands of Jeremy Pena or Aledmys Diaz as a starting SS in a world where they do not sign Correa. If you follow the link to the Pena article you know that I believe he is going to be pretty good, but will he be good RIGHT AWAY? Will the Astros hold him down for a few week to manipulate his service time? How good is Aledmys Diaz at SS? This is the context I am talking about.
Let's explore a world where the Astros do NOT want to put everyday rookie starter pressure on Jeremy Pena. Who starts at SS? Probably Diaz. Also from the January Guide
"The Astros might also choose to mitigate risk at SS by signing a viable starting SS.... A more short-term option (like Villar or Simmons) is more likely if the Astros go this route."
Niko Goodrum is the short term option the Astros chose. Why?
Let's start by comparing Diaz and Goodrum
Diaz is a better overall hitter clearly. Goodrum strikes out a TON. There is an interesting quirk too.
Diaz (RHH) for MOST of his career has been a reverse platoon split hitter, He has been better vs. RHP than LHP EXCEPT in 2021.
Goodrum, a switch-hitter, has been significantly better vs. LHP. He has been BAD vs. RHP.
IF the Astros run a platoon of Goodrum vs. LHP and Diaz vs. RHP, their combined wRC+ would be ~117. Correa's career wRC+ is 128. This platoon would be a poor man's Correa offensively at SS.
There are even more interesting ways Diaz and Goodrum fit together. Let's switch gears for a minute and assume the Astros DO sign Correa OR that Pena IS the starting SS we all hope he is. Diaz would be a utility man able to cover multiple positions. So would Goodrum.
Here are the innings each has played at the various positions in the MLB and how good they have been at each position. A disclaimer first, defensive metrics are very challenging to use as predictors. The inning sample sizes are just too limited to be sure that they project true capability with the probable exception of SS for this data.
Let's accept the limited defensive data as is. Do you see it? Follow the blues and reds (Red good/ Blue bad).
First base- both have limited playing time and neither has been a very good 1B
Second base- this is probably Diaz's best position and possibly Goodrum's worst
Third base- Diaz is an adequate 3B and Goodrum is not
Shortstop- this is Diaz's worst position and likely Goodrum's best.
Left Field- Goodrum has more OF experience but it hasn't been great in LF. Diaz has had very limited time but seems capable.
Center Field- Goodrum is an emergency CF if needed, but not good in an statistically insignificant sample size
Right Field- Goodrum has been good in an statistically insignificant sample size
Reflect on this- Goodrum appears to be an adequate SS defensively. He IS the viable SS starting option short term if Pena is not ready. The Astros will probably split time between Goodrum and Diaz at SS with the LHP/RHP platoon against the opposing SP unless Pena is truly ready. Diaz will get a chance to prove to be an adequate defensive SS vs. RHSP. Goodrum will get a chance to prove he can hit RHSP with Astros coaching. I would split starting SS time like this until Pena is ready.
Goodrum is exactly the Pena insurance the Astros need.
Once Pena is ready, Goodrum and Diaz can be a two man defensive utility squad covering at least 6 and possibly 7 positions.
So now does the Goodrum signing make sense in the Astros context? In one word this Goodrum signing gives the team OPTIONS. It would appear to be Click's goal to have multiple answers and let performance determine the path forward.
Let's discuss in the forums.
On another note, there are two other conclusions one MIGHT make regarding the Goodrum signing.
The Astros are very concerned Pena is not ready
The Astros do not think signing Correa is viable
Are either of these true? We shall see very soon.
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