Possible Change to Astros Lineup


The early season struggles of Evan Gattis and George Springer are unsustainable. Gattis, through 4 games, has struck out nine times in 15 at-bats. Springer hit his bat on the ground after striking out in Friday’s 5-1 win over the Rangers. AJ Hinch, in his second stint as a big league manager, moved Jed Lowrie up in the order where he went 1×4 out of the number three spot.

I approve.

Now, let us make some more changes to the Astros lineup. Temporary, of course, because the 1-4 of Altuve, Springer, Gattis and Carter looks good. But the truth is that it has not worked yet.

It is also important to realize that the Indians put out some good pitching in the first three games of the season. But in order for the Astros to achieve their goal of being in the postseason in 2015, they have to find a way to get hits.

Apr 6, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) bats during the game against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A lineup that I propose is:

  1. Altuve 4
  2. Rasmus 7
  3. Lowrie 6
  4. Carter 3
  5. Marisnick 8
  6. Springer 9
  7. Gattis DH
  8. Valbuena 5
  9. Castro 2

Top Four Hitters

This lineup is a little odd at first. Essentially we should break up the power. No team in major league baseball is going to deploy .230 career hitters in the number 3 spot and the cleanup spot. If there is a team out there that does and is successful, please let me know.

Lowrie is the only person on the club that has done reasonably well in the first four games. In these days, he can be considered an above-average hitter. He may only have a .261 batting average at this point in his career, but that’s above the 2014 AL average of .251.  Last season with the Athletics, he only hit six home runs. So far, he has two.

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Chris Carter batting third is right where he should be. Some people think that Singleton should be batting there, and maybe someday he will, but for now let Carter have his spot. Aside from his .067 batting average he is producing right in line with expectations. He’s struck out five times in 15 at-bats. While that’s high, it’s certainly close to his 33.6% career strikeout rate.

The Bottom Five

The bottom five in the order can be argued for days. Should Gattis be in the middle of the order? Or what about Jason Castro, who has had a good year and a bad year? In this lineup, I have Castro hitting 9th. He and Marisnick could easily be flipped for another. That is probably a better fit as Castro is the more established player.

On the other hand, having Marisnick batting fifth presents two scenarios. One is that he can be the last chance of a clutch hit with Altuve and Rasmus getting on board, or any of the three in front of Carter reaching base. But what about having the lineup broken in two, distinct pieces? Marisnick has plenty of speed and is more of a contact hitter than a slugger.

In that second path, Springer would retain his status as a number two hitter. George is still very young and having him batting second is pretty aggressive. The team wants Gattis to be batting third or fourth, with guys on base, so he has RBI chances with his power stroke. There is simply too much pressure on Gattis so far, and I would like to see him put the ball in play. Moving him down in the order could be the catalyst in leading him to be the guy we expect.

Valbuena batting third was a cry of desperation. Hinch wanted to separate the lefties (Castro and Singleton) but neither truly earned a middle-of-the-order spot. Luis and Jason batting 8th/9th counters that sentiment. At this point, though, the lineup needs to be shaken up and have guys establish some confidence this season.

A traditional lineup is coming soon with Houston atop the list. As for now, this lineup is struggling to find hits and an identity. The fans expect power and strikeouts, but they do not want to see near no-hitters on a frequent basis.

Next: Should Jed Lowrie Remain the Third Hitter?

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