Houston Astros: Trevor Plouffe and the Current State at Third Base

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Ever since the Houston Astros traded Chris Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline in the 2012 season, the third base job has been void of offensive production and success. However, after a semi-productive season at third base from Luis Valbuena and having hope for the future in AA third baseman Colin Moran, the third base position seems to be on the rise for this Astros club. This is why the Astros do not need to waste their money on another free agent short-term answer at third base such as Trevor Plouffe.

Plouffe performed very well after signing a one-year, $4.8 million contract with the Minnesota Twins this offseason. His power is a big part of his game averaging 21 home runs a year while bringing in 79 according to Baseball-Reference. However, his career batting average sits at .245, and he strikes out an average 132 times per 162 games. The Astros already have a third baseman that produces similarly in Valbuena.

Valbuena and Plouffe are alike in many ways. Both specialize in hitting the long ball with 25 and 22 leaving the park respectively. However, the rest of their offensive capabilities are works in progress. According to Fangraphs, Valbuena struck out 21.5% of the time while Plouffe had a 19.6 % strikeout percentage. The upside to Valbuena over Plouffe is his ability to walk with a 10.1% walk percentage over Plouffe’s 7.9%.

On defense, both Plouffe and Valbuena can play multiple positions specializing this year at third base and first base. Their fielding percentages are just .02 percentage points apart with .974 for Valbuena and .972 for Plouffe. With both players being so similar, I don’t see Plouffe as an upgrade over Valbuena at third base especially since the answer to this issue is either at third base is in Corpus Christi or on the bench for the major league club.

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Moran, the sixth overall pick by the Marlins in 2013, is a different player than Valbuena or Plouffe. Coming to the Astros in the Jared Cosart trade at the 2014 trade deadline, Moran is a specializes in batting average and getting on-base mostly through his contact hits. Last season at AA Corpus Christi, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was at .365 from his regular batting average at .306.

The one part of Moran’s game that needs to improve before he gets the major league call-up is his excessive strikeout numbers. Last season, he had an 18.9% strikeout percentage compared to a 10.3% walk percentage. According to Brian McTaggart, Moran was promoted to AAA Fresno on 9/24.

Another option for this Astros team at third base is Matt Duffy. Promoted to the major league club on 9/13, the PCL MVP made a big name for himself this season at Fresno hitting 20 home runs while driving in 104. The 26-year-old drafted in 2011 could be in the running for the starting job at third base come Spring Training.

Next: Houston Astros Winter Trade Series: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy

The future seems bright for this Astros team at third base, which is why no upgrade from free agency is needed.

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