The Future is Now
A.J. Reed is playing first. Photo Credit by Tammy Tucker
We know how great Freeman is. That is why we are talking about him. He would be a huge addition to any lineup, but especially one that needs true hitters. Freeman is a lifetime .285 hitter, and that is at least what I would expect him to hit in the middle of the Astros lineup if that were to happen. But that number does not tell the whole story about how good a complete hitter he is. Freeman can hit to all fields, hit for average, and pop out 20+ homers a year. His OPS (on-base plus slugging) was .841 in an injury plagued year, and I just think he is going to get better over the next few years.
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I expect another young man named Reed to get better as well. I covered Reed at high-A Lancaster last year and at the time he was promoted to double-A, he led the league in batting average, home runs, R.B.I., on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, and OPS. I’ll let that sink in…
Reed, the slugging first baseman who finished 2015 at Double-A Corpus Christi in the Astros organization, has hit at every level and hit well. In 2014, Reed won the Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur baseball player in the country while playing for the University of Kentucky. In 2015, he won the Offensive Player of the Year award for Minor League baseball (The previous two award winners were Kris Bryant in 2014 and Joey Gallo in 2013).
Reed was certainly on the cusp of making his major league debut in 2015, but the Astros chose to ride the veterans on the roster into the playoffs rather than gamble with a rookie. This may seem comical as the lion’s share of first base at bats went to Chris Carter (.199 BA/.307 OBP) and Luis Valbuena (.224 BA/.310 OBP). It was a hard sell to try and convince me that A.J. Reed would not have done better than that at his worst.
You do not have to trade away pieces acquired over the last few years to acquire a fantastic left-handed hitting first baseman. You don’t even need to pay millions of dollars to acquire one. You have one in your farm system that will make $500K/year, and he’ll be ready to go for 2016.