Coming into the season who would have thought Matt Dominguez would be second on the Astros with 45 RBI’s? Certainly not me.
Matt Dominguez (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)
In a first half of the season that did not feature many bright moments for the Astros, the third baseman was one of the few.
Dominguez’s excellent defense should not have come as a surprise to Astros’ fans, but his run production has been better than expected. To go with those 45 RBI’s, the 23-year old also has 11 home runs which is third on the team. For someone who started off the season batting as low as eighth and is still in the bottom of the order, that is nothing to sneeze at.
Third base is probably the one position where the Astros are devoid of major league ready prospects. Sure Nolan Fontana and Rio Ruiz are around, but they are a few years away at best. Dominguez was acquired last year almost as an after thought from the Marlins for Carlos Lee, but it appears that Jeff Luhnow certainly knew what he was doing. Or at least it looks that way so far.
Among American League third baseman, Dominguez is second in Range Factor. That has been an asset this season with the young Astros’ starting pitchers, and will continue to be going forward. It is nice to have a strong defender on the hot corner and the third baseman has saved some runs for Houston’s hurlers and also gotten them out of some jams. As the Astros start to win, this will become even more valuable.
Despite all of Dominguez’s RBI exploits this season, there is still a reason Bo Porter has not moved him up in the order. The major reason why, is that he is only hitting .227. The surprising thing though, is that he stands out from the other Astros hitters as he has only struck out 51 times this season.
Throughout his whole career, this has been an ongoing trend for Dominguez. A low batting average and minimal strikeouts coupled with good defense seems to be what we can expect from him.
What does worry me about Dominguez, is that he does not hit many line drives (17.9%). That is not the ticket to success. He clearly does that at the expense of his batting average and in favor of fly balls (41.2%). However he is hitting home runs on only 10.2% of his fly balls, so that is a sustainable rate.
Maybe in time Dominguez’s batting average will increase a little bit, but a .250 batting average with 18-20 home runs and about 80 RBI’s seems to be what we can expect from him. Couple that with above average defensive play, and you have a pretty good complimentary piece.
Long term, Dominguez’s future with the Astros remains to be seen. But for at least the next few years it seems his spot is safe. Unless of course Houston can upgrade the hot corner, which is certainly possible.