Houston Astros: Low-averaged Luis Valbuena still hitting for power


As the Houston Astros prepare to take on the New York Yankees for the final time this week, we’re going to take a brief look at third baseman Luis Valbuena. A man – who despite hitting a little under .200 halfway through the campaign – is still hitting for power and currently sits with a career-high 19 big flies.

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Now before we do so, I’m going to come out and admit that yes, I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs. That may come as a shocker to most of you who have read my previous recaps, but it made sense to join Climbing Tal’s Hill since both clubs shared the N.L. Central for nearly 20 years.

So I grew up watching guys like Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Jeff Kent, Lance Berkman, Billy Wagner, Ken Caminiti, Roy Oswalt, Brad Ausmus, and one of my favorite players of all-time, Jeff Bagwell, either host or visit the Cubs. Not too bad with the name dropping, huh?

Anyways, Valbuena or for those in Houston, ‘Valbooma’, started to pick up his offensive production over the last couple seasons, especially in Chicago with the North Siders. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the Cubs picking up a sub-par infielder who had only one great season as a big league player.

In 2010 with the Cleveland Indians, Luis recorded 92 hits, 25 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 31 RBI while slashing .250/.298/.416 through 368 at-bats only to follow that up with below average numbers prior to landing in Chicago.

It wasn’t until 2013 where he finally broke out of his shell after receiving more playing time as a member of a team going through their rebuilding phase with Anthony Rizzo leading the charge. While picking up a career-high in games played (108), Valbuena belted 12 home runs and 37 RBI while hitting only .218 in his second year in Cubbie blue.

Before he was traded to the Astros, the then 28-year-old lefty continued to eclipse his career marks, finishing the 2014 campaign with 16 long balls and 51 RBI despite striking out 116 times – which was also a career high. He could have easily increased his home run and RBI totals, but fell to an injury that kept him out of action for quite some time.

With Kris Bryant expected to make his Major League debut this season and the Cubs seeking for a veteran outfielder, it was obvious that Valbuena’s time in Chicago had come to an end. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when news broke about him being moved along with Dan Straily for outfielder Dexter Fowler, who has also played well for the Cubs so far this year.

While taking a look at his career totals, Valbuena has averaged a batting line of .226/.309/.383 on top of slugging .692 in seven years. So, despite not hitting for a high average, he’s still finding his groove in the batter’s box, increasing the amount of balls that end up landing in the outfield bleachers or base knocks in general.

If he’s able to stay healthy, there’s a chance he finishes the year with a .270 average and around 32-35 moon shots under his belt. It’s definitely frustrating to see him strikeout, but his home run swing makes up for that feeling.

Stay sweet, Luis, stay sweet.

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