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The Houston Astros have a problem at first base

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The Houston Astros have a problem, and I don’t think an NASA rocket scientist can help the Astros solve the problem. Chris Carter took off last year with 37 home runs but is having problems lifting off this year at the plate. The Astros hoped that bringing up Jon Singleton, who used to be considered the first baseman of the future, to try to push Carter. It seems to have worked against him, as he has struggled since Singleton’s recall.

Stats per position

Let’s look at the team stats at each position for the Astros in 2015 from ESPN.

As you look at the table above, you will see that the first base position is not across the board bad, but the players who play there have had issues getting on base with hits and batting average. When you don’t get on base, you can’t score runs. The other troubled areas are at catcher, third base, and centerfield. The Astros have many holes in their lineup, but the speed and power of the team seem to mask these holes at times. However, when the Astros are in a funk, lack of consistent production at first base.

Jon Singleton

The once can’t miss prospect Singleton is missing a lot know. Singleton since his recall has a slash line of .120/ .241/ .160/ .401 with 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats. He was having a very good offensive season at Fresno but seems to have trouble adjusting to major league pitching. While he could still find his bearings and become a great baseball player, he is in danger of being labeled a Quadruple-A player.

Chris Carter

The Astros 2014 breakout player is struggling in 2015, and it could cost him a roster spot if the Astros trade for another player at first base. In a recent post titled Faux Astros trade discussion between Luhnow and Reds’ Jocketty, even fake Walt Jocketty could not be swayed to take Carter. His slash line in 2015 is .185/ .300/ .380/ .680 with 115 strikeouts in 287 at-bats. He has played very good on defense and has walked a fair amount of time, but he is not making the contact needed from a first baseman. He does have 15 home runs, but could be a thirty with better contact.

Matt Duffy

Currently at Triple-A, but is held back by the roster spot of Chris Carter. In the 2015 season, Duffy has a .288/ .351/ .453/ .804 slash line with 11 home runs and 66 RBIs. While he has had a good minor league career, he is not a top prospect. Once the Astros decide to cut the cord on Carter, he will be up.

Conrad Gregor

Gregor is currently at Double-A after being drafted in 2013 in the same draft as current top prospect Tony Kemp, he has a slash line of .248/ .343/ .367/ .710 with four homers and 42 RBIs. I interviewed Gregor here. Leading Off First with Conrad Gregor (w/Interview).

Dark Horse (A.J. Reed)

Drafted in 2014, Reed has been fast tracked through the minors with his Paul Goldschmidt like talent. Blake wrote about him Houston Astros: A.J. Reed is the next Mega Prospect, and I interviewed him here Keeping Up With the Houston Astros Prospects: A.J. Reed. The Astros will give Singleton as many chances as possible, but it seems like Reed is the future at first base.

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Trade Candidates

Adam Lind – having a career season with 15 homers.

Jonathan Lucroy – injuries have held him back in 2015, can play catcher or first base.

Yonder Alonso – not a power hitter, but is a good defensive first baseman.

Adam LaRoche – .222/ 9 HR/ 33 RBI

Right now the Astros are playing Carter and Singleton as a platoon, which is bad because neither will get the swings needed to get on track. It will be curious to see what happens before the trade deadline, but the Astros may wait to claim a player after the deadline.

Next: Houston Astros: Is an offseason ace addition in Luhnow’s hand?

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