Houston Astros: Plugging in the Astros first base/DH Holes

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Option 3: Jon Singleton

Aug 17, 2014; Boston, MA; Houston Astros first baseman Jon Singleton (28) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning at Fenway Park. The Astros defeated the Red Sox 8-1. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

3. Jon Singleton

2016 AGE: 24

2016 SALARY: $2M (Signed Through 2018 with Team Options for 2019-2021)

Another lightning rod among the fans, Singleton went down to Fresno out of spring training after a miserable .168/.285/.335 showing across a 95-game rookie season in 2014. Early last season, he was signed to a controversial long-term contract immediately before being recalled, one that was discussed primarily because Singleton took very little guaranteed money ($10M) in exchange for a low baseline of security long-term. The Astros now have six more seasons of control of Singleton, with affordable options through his first year of free-agent eligibility (though now that may work out to be his final year of arbitration after he accumulated very little service time in 2015).

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Singleton has mashed in Triple-A. Mashed. His difficulty with lefties kept his overall 2015 line out of the stratosphere, but he hit .293/.414/.602 in 314 plate appearances vs. RHP. His BB/K of 55/62 also suggests stellar control of the strike zone against opposite-hand pitching.

In a brief stint with the big club, Singleton hit .205/.321/.318 across 53 plate appearances. Hinch seemed reluctant to use him and often hit him eighth in the order when he did. After the Gomez trade, Singleton went to Triple-A and Carter spent August on the bench.

If you believe that those Triple-A numbers have any merit, you have to believe Singleton to be the best 1B/DH option vs. RHP on the current 40-man roster. I subscribe to this notion and am consistently frustrated that he’s been buried. Beyond the team’s current malaise offensively, my fear is Singleton will be shipped out in the off-season as a “change of scenery” guy, only to emerge as a consistent 30 HR player with .350+ on-base percentages for someone else. As a mid-payroll team at best, the Astros need to keep their homegrown talent producing at home throughout their 20s (Domingo Santana is killing it in Milwaukee if anybody has noticed).

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The decision to keep Gattis and tender him a contract in 2016 will directly impact Singleton’s future. Considering the needs of our lineup (lefties over righties), the relative ages of the two players (Singleton being five years younger), and the salaries (Singleton will make a total of $6M through 2018. Then potentially a bargain price of $20.5M for the following three years on team options), this should be a no-brainer in favor of Singleton, no matter what your friends tell you.

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Next: Option 4: A.J. Reed