Jonathan Villar (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Jonathan Villar is talented. We cannot dispute that. He also showed the ability to produce at a high level and to make things happen at the major league level last season.
But that does not mean that Villar’s debut was not without issue. The 22-year old batted .243 with the Astros in 58 games during what was an up and down second half. Yes Villar did deserve the promotion, but it was almost done by default as there really were not many other options for the Astros at the shortstop position.
Villar immediately showed an ability to make things happen as he stole 18 bases and was an exciting player for the Astros. However, he was also caught stealing eight times and made multiple base running blunders that were a result of a lack of focus and discipline.
The same could be said for Villar’s performance in the field. He made some spectacular plays that showed athleticism, but conversely, Villar committed 16 errors. Villar’s issue seemed to be with the routine plays. Whether it was a lack of concentration and focus or simply having too much time to think, the young shortstop had his share of problems.
Villar’s troubles resulted in him being benched by Bo Porter at times, but it seemed like the lessons did not stick. The lack of discipline also carried forward to his performance at the plate resulting in some trying times for the youngster.
Overall though, there is a lot to work with, and at 22 there is still time for Villar to grow and develop. Currently, I’m not sure that there really is an alternative to Villar at shortstop. On paper, Marwin Gonzalez would be the next man in — and that could potentially be a problem. I think the Astros have to be careful here with Villar.
While he deserves to be the starting shortstop, and he likely will be, I think Villar really needs to earn it. There needs to be clear progress on the mental side of his game. The talent is there and the production will come, but the shortstop needs to be more disciplined.
Resolution #1: Improve the focus and concentration on the base paths. Yes Villar is fast, but there is more than speed to stealing bases in the major leagues. Pick your spots, and be aware of the game situations.
Resolution #2: Go up to the plate with a clear plan and do not chase pitches. Shorten up the swing with two strikes, and utilize your speed.
Resolution #3: Focus in the field and execute the routine throws and play fundamentally.