A grand total of 362 plate appearances is not nearly enough to determine how a player will perform throughout their career. After all, Mike Schmidt struggled in his rookie year before turning into the Hall of Fame player that who know him to be. However, that does not mean that there cannot be a cause for concern with the way that Jon Singleton performed last year.
Singleton, who was signed to a five year contract worth $9 Million and three team options for a total of another $20.5 Million prior to being called up, struggled in his first season in the majors. In those 362 plate appearances, Singleton produced a .168/.285/.335 batting line. On the plus side, Singleton did hit 13 home runs and draw fifty walks. However, Singleton also struck out 134 times, as 37% of his plate appearances ended in a strikeout.
That strikeout rate, while not ideal, could at least be mitigated if Jon Singleton hit the ball well when he did make contact. That batting average could be a matter of bad luck if he had been hitting line drives right at people. Yet, given Singleton’s .238 BABiP, that would not appear to be the case.
Looking at the results of Singleton’s at bats when he actually put the ball in play, that .238 BABiP may have actually been the result of good luck. Last season, Singleton hit a line drives at a 14.1% rate, while popping up on the infield 20.7% of the time. In fact, almost 20% of all the fly balls that Singleton hit last year ended up on the infield.
Was this a matter of Singleton trying too hard to hit home runs and lift the ball? Given his ground ball to fly ball rate of 0.85, that may not have entirely been the case. However, Singleton did appear quite conscious of trying to put the ball in the air at times, looking for a home run instead of letting his natural swing and talent come through.
There is still plenty of time for Jon Singleton to produce. His career arc could well mirror that of Schmidt’s, given his struggles through his rookie year. However, given the holes that the Astros have on their roster, they need to figure out if Singleton can be a part of the solution. Hopefully, he can help provide that answer next season.