Season Preview: Projecting the Astros Outfield

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Now that the Astros 25-man roster has been finalized, we can start looking at what production the Astros outfield will give in 2015. With Jon Singleton rediscovering himself in Triple-A Fresno, Chris Carter will be the everyday first baseman until that happens. With Carter upgrading himself out of the designated hitter position, “El Oso Blanco” (Evan Gattis) bears his way into it, so he won’t be clawing his way around left field.

There may be some position swapping between the outfielders, designated hitter, and first base positions. Three players should receive the bulk of the playing time, but will they keep their hold on the outfield role throughout the entire year?

Right Field – George Springer

Last year at this time, George Springer was the hot topic for Astros fans about why he was not up with the Astros at the beginning of 2014. Two weeks later, Springer was roaming the outfield for the Astros. This spring he was able to focus on improving his game, versus fighting to make the team. He offers four tool talent, with the one lacking tool being hitting for average. Hitting second in the Astros order will cause him to be more selective and patient at the plate,

The following projection is from FantasyPros;

Looking at this consensus projection, you have to think that Springer has more power than just the 29 home runs. This spring, he has started running more on the bases, so he could top the 15 stolen bases predicted above. By staying healthy all year, there is no reason that Springer could not go 30-20 with his success in limited games last year. I think this year he puts more contact on the ball, and the results will follow.

My Projection: .260/36 HR/ 88 RBI/ 22 SB

Center Fielder – Jake Marisnick

Unlike Springer, Marisnick is not guaranteed a full season of playing time. Just because he is the opening day center fielder, that doesn’t mean he will maintain a grasp on the role for the entire season. It’s almost like he is on borrowed time until Jon Singleton is ready to play first base again. Barring an injury to one of the players, Marisnick will either split time with Rasmus in center field or ride the bench once Singleton is ready again. He is on the team because of his elite defense and his speed on the bases.

The following projection is from FantasyPros;

This prediction was prior to Jake Marisnick being named the everyday center fielder last Wednesday. So they don’t have him with near the number of at bats that a starter would get in a season. A.J. Hinch will have him batting ninth, which will affect how many at bats he might get in a given game.

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The good thing though is that Marisnick has speed, so he could act as the second leadoff hitter who can get on base, and be part of many double steals with Jose Altuve. After the hypothetical double steal, the big boppers in the heart of the order will drive them in. Altuve, Springer, and Marisnick offer the only true speed on the team, so expect these three to get the green light many times this season.

My Projection: .271/ 8 HR/ 25 SB/ 56 RBI

Left Fielder – Colby Rasmus

It is no secret that I’m not the biggest Colby Rasmus fan, but he is here for the 2015 season. The Astros wanted to give some of their prospects a little more seasoning before they get thrown onto the grill that is the major leagues. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow had a personal relationship with Colby Rasmus, so he wanted to give him a chance to reestablish himself to sign a big contract somewhere.

Despite his excellent defense and power, he lost his starting role last year with the Blue Jays. Normally a center fielder, he will be playing in left field with the Astros in 2015. If Alex Presley‘s DFA, it shows that the Astros might be willing to eat a contract of a player is not performing. Rasmus needs to perform this year if he wants to make a good impression for future teams, and he will have to defend his roster spot to the outfield prospects on the way up.

The following projection is from FantasyPros;

No one can argue Colby Rasmus’s power, during spring training he hit a line-drive home run so hard that it left the ballpark before Rasmus got to first base. He didn’t hit for a high average during spring training, but he showed some patience hitting .219/ 2 homers/ nine walks/ ten strikeouts. Like Marisnick, he could lose playing time due to poor play and/or Jon Singleton is ready to be the everyday guy at first base. He could easily hit 20+ homers, but what will he do around those home runs?

My Prediction: 0.220/ 21 HR/ 48 RBI/ 1 SB

Conclusion

I am hoping that some of the younger prospects start pushing to become major league ready in 2015. Three outfielders will be ready at some point during the 2015 season. I believe that Preston Tucker, L.J. Hoes, and Domingo Santana can emerge as options this year. Rasmus could be used at the trade deadline to bring a prospect or two back for the future.

Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Villar,  and Evan Gattis will also receive playing time in the outfield, but until Jon Singleton is ready, the three we talked about earlier will be the regulars. With the current Astros lineup, Astros fans should get used to players roles not being set in stone game to game. I don’t see the current three outfielders playing together all season, for whatever reason.

Next: Where do the Astros Rank in the Latest Power Rankings

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