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Matt Dominguez continues to struggle for the Houston Astros

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Matt Dominguez (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Overall this season, I have stayed pretty optimistic about the Houston Astros. Although they are just 69-88 heading into tonight’s game with the Texas Rangers, Houston has shown a lot of potential moving forward and already won 18 more games than last year. With that being said, there is one player on the team I really hope isn’t on next year’s roster: Matt Dominguez.

Dominguez has been awful at the plate this season for the Astros, but, with very limited options, the team continues to play him at third base. The 25-year-old is hitting .215 with a .256 on-base percentage, .332 slugging percentage, and -1.4 WAR in 2014. In 554 at-bats, Dominguez has 119 hits, 28 walks, 55 RBIs, 51 runs scored, and 124 strikeouts. He has been able to hit 17 doubles and 16 home runs, but has also looked really, really bad since the All-Star Break.

"Pre All-Star: .237/.286/.366 with 11 home runs, 39 RBIs, 13 doubles, 84 hits, 23 walks, 34 runs scored, and 80 strikeouts.Post All-Star: .176/.202/.271 with 5 home runs, 16 RBIs, four doubles, 35 hits, five walks, 17 runs scored, and 44 strikeouts."

Dominguez’s .215 batting average this season is the third worst in all of MLB behind Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles and B.J. Upton of the Atlanta Braves. On Friday, Dominguez broke an 0-for-25 drought with a single and followed that up with his first home run of September on Saturday night. Now, even after collecting another base hit last night, Dominguez has .127/.158/.182 line for the month. Ouch.

Matt Dominguez (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Dominguez also has the third worst WAR in all of baseball (minimum 500 at-bats) trailing only Nick Castellanos of the Detroit Tigers and Chris Johnson of the Braves. Also,  since 1970, Dominguez is the ONLY Astros third baseman without a stolen base (minimum 550 at-bats). Ex-Astros manager Bo Porter used to joke about Dominguez’s durability by saying it’s hard to get hurt when you are that slow. However, Matty D has played the third most games in the AL at third and almost never misses time due to an injury. It also wouldn’t be fair of me to leave out the fact he has a .972 fielding percentage this season. That’s good for sixth among third baseman in all of baseball and he’s done a great job defensively.

Look, I understand why the Astros originally acquired Dominguez from the Miami Marlins in 2012. Houston had zero MLB-ready talent at third base and wanted to get something in return for Carlos Lee‘s awful contract. Dominguez was the 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft and even showed promise last season in Houston. He played in 152 games and hit .241 with 21 homers and 77 RBIs while playing top-notch defense.

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The Astros almost signed Dominguez to a five-year contract extension worth around $17 million with a pair of club options this summer, but the deal never ended up happening. The 25-year-old third baseman won’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after next season. I think the Astros will most likely keep Dominguez and hope their patience pays off (like it has with Chris Carter). However, I really hope the Astros decide to look for another third baseman this winter.

Houston will need somebody to fill in while guys like Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz continue to develop in the minor leagues. Moran won’t be ready until the second half of next season, at the earliest, and Ruiz has only been in High Class A Lancaster. Until those young studs are ready, the Astros will need to find a more reliable player than Dominguez to play the hot corner if they want to make another jump in the win column next season.

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