The Houston Astros batting order is a work in progress. In reality the entire team is still rebuilding with some of the best talent still a couple years away. But as of now, aside from Altuve batting lead-off, the Astros lineup is far from meeting expectations.
Acquiring Dexter Fowler in the offseason was supposed to give the Astros stability at the top of the order. Dexter started hot before a stomach bug weakened his system. Since then, Altuve has claimed the number one spot in the batting order with a .313/.361/.444 slash line. Jose should stay in this spot in the order as he has hit .291, above his .286 career batting average. Currently the #1 spot in the order has the Astros at a .267 clip, 15th in MLB, but Altuve should be able to carry the average higher.
As a team the Astros are ranked 29th in MLB for this spot in the order. Fowler has produced a .282/.404/.359 line so far and has a .268 career batting average. His ability to draw walks has been evidenced by his OBP being higher than slugging. In fact, this has the Astros up to 24th overall in terms of OBP. Only three Astros hitters have more than 20 at-bats batting second with Alex Presley and Robbie Grossman batting well below .200 following the lead-off spot.
Perhaps a little lenient on grading #2 due to the fact that the next two spots in the order have been dreadful. Jason Castro has been over matched this entire season at the plate. Overall the #3 spot in the order has struck out 49 times, tops in MLB, with Castro owning 42 of those. His 33.1% K rate from that spot is tops in MLB by a horrifying margin of 5.8% worse than Trevor Plouffe of the Minnesota Twins. The only positive from the this spot in the order is that the .224 batting average is tied for worst in MLB with the New York Yankees.
It is easy to blame Chris Carter for the lack of production from the cleanup spot. But in reality, George Springer was tortured along with Astros fans with the pressure of batting 4th. For 13 games he batted just .173 and struck out 19 times. Jose Altuve also received a fair share of at-bats but was able to at least crack the Mendoza Line.
Perhaps Matt Dominguez will force his way into the cleanup spot. He has quietly compiled four consecutive two-hit games while hitting safely in 11 of his last 12 games. So far this season he has a .348 batting average from the cleanup spot.
And for every positive there has to be a negative, right? Astros cleanup men are last in the league in homers and RBI with 0 and 9 respectively. That is just horrifying and is significantly hindering the Astros ability to drive in runs. In terms of batting average, the #4 spot has produce .183
Some of the hitters batting fifth have decided to pick up on the slack a little bit. Six homers from this spot are good for a massive tie for 7th in MLB. The batting average is dreadful, below .200 again, at just .182 and last in the big leagues.
Dominguez is a good candidate to slide into this spot. But I would prefer trying Dominguez third while he is seeing the ball well. With Castro being a year removed from being an all-star, perhaps a change in the order could reduce some pressure.
George Springer has a batting average above .300. Well, not overall, but since moving down in the order the top prospect is adjusting to the big leagues. He has struck out in 16 of his 36 at-bats from this spot which is a cause for concern. However, he has displayed some of his power with his first two major league home runs.
Surprisingly the bottom third of the order has been decent for the Astros.
With a .296 batting average, 2 homers, and 5 RBI, it seems Chris Carter could benefit from an extended stint at this spot in the lineup. The 8 strikeouts in 27 at bats is still about a 1 in 3 strikeout rate but I will take it if he can hit near .300.
Astros hitters are batting .250 with 5 homers and 21 RBI thus far this season. This ranks them 15th and 11th among the bigs for the 7th spot in the lineup.
The offense has slumped horribly from the next to last spot in the batting order. Dominguez has pretty much served as the regular from this spot in the order. With a .200 batting average in 35 at-bats, Matt matches the rest of the team’s output batting 8th. Though I have long thought that he was a good #8 hitter, the statistics for his career indicate that he produces more in the middle third of the order.
Jonathan Villar has been a pleasant surprise with the bat this season. The Astros are overall hitting .276 from the last spot in the lineup which is good for 3rd among MLB teams. Villar is batting .242 from this spot, so the time L.J. Hoes and Marwin Gonzalez have spent here are carrying that statistic. Villar, however, has the 4 home runs and has the Astros ranked 2nd in home runs from the #9 hole.
Obviously the Houston Astros have a lot of work to do this season to avoid losing 100 games. Their collective .224 batting average is tied for dead last with the San Diego Padres.