#2: Be more active
Jul 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Jon Singleton (21) is splashed with water after hitting a home run during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Get more action/production at first and third base.
By: Eric Huysman
Houston, we had a problem at first base specifically last year. Following Chris Carter’s breakout season in 2014, he took a step back and more in 2015. Carter and Jon Singleton battled during spring training for the first base job. Even after a good start to his spring, he slowed down towards the end and was demoted back to Triple-A to start the season.
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The Astros traded Dexter Fowler to the Cubs for Luis Valbuena to bridge the gap between now and when Moran or J.D. Davis are ready. Valbuena was a journeyman infielder who had a breakout season with the Cubs in 2014, would have had an even better year in 2015 if it weren’t for the low batting average. Valbuena is not the long term answer at third or first base, but he did show a good ability to play both while hitting 25 homers.
Like Todd Frazier, Valbuena got off to a hot start but cooled off before regaining the confidence towards the playoffs. Singleton in a couple of stints with the Astros showed that he still has not mastered major league pitching like he has Triple-A pitching. He hit .191 with one homer last year with the Astros. The job is his to lose in spring training, but they also have Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez able to fill in if Singleton can’t hit his weight.
While everyone is getting super stoked about A.J. Reed, don’t look for him to make the team until June or July. If all the options flounder in spring, then maybe this forces the team’s hands, but they want to hold onto him for the extra year. With Carter gone, hopefully, the Astros get more production at first base, but they will be relying on an unproven guy. This will be the biggest thing to watch this spring.
Next: #1: Be more creative