Astros Spring Battles: 1st/3rd Backup – Tyler White vs. Matt Duffy


2016 Houston Astros Spring Battles

The Houston Astros roster is pretty much set at the moment with the biggest Astros spring battle being the backup catcher, 1st/third base backup, and the last reliever in for the bullpen. I just sat down and did my 25-man roster, and these were the question marks that I see heading into spring training. The one that I think is the most settled at the moment is Max Stassi as the backup catcher, and it’s his job to lose at this point of his career. The one that I find most interesting is between Matt Duffy and Tyler White.

Duffy may have the upper hand at this moment because of several reasons. He has the experience from last season, even getting placed on the one-game wild card game versus the Yankees. Duffy is currently on the Astros 40-man roster, even though the Astros currently have two open spots on the roster, he wouldn’t require dropping someone like it would be to add White to the roster. He was the Triple-A Fresno MVP last season before his call-up. To show how stacked the Grizzlies were, they still won the Championship without their team MVP.

Duffy’s 2015 Stats: .294/ 20 hr/ 104 RBI/ 4 sb

At this point in his career, Duffy has demonstrated more power in the minor leagues. In his eight games in the big leagues, Duffy does not appear on any USA Today pictures. If you were not pictured, do you really exist? Plus, he is currently sporting a MLB .375/ .444/ .500/ .944 slash line, so he has to be good right?

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I kid a little with the last point; this is an impressive slash line, but that is in only eight at-bats in eight games played in the minors. That’s a rather small sample size, but he only had one double as his lone extra base hit so far in the big leagues. It’s safe to say that he has the upper hand as a possible platoon partner with either Jon Singleton or Luis Valbuena early in the season. First base is waiting for A.J. Reed to claim it until then they want to see what they have in Singleton and Duffy.

White is like that pesky fly that you can’t catch, he has gone from a $1,000 senior signing by the Astros to be the fans choice for MiLB Hitter of the Year Award in 2015. He was not supposed to be this good, he was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2013 draft, but he’s playing like a first round pick in his minor league career. White is one of those guys who would totally shark you in a home run derby. He would take batting practice before the derby, the other guy would raise the stakes because he doesn’t look impressive, and then White would win.

Don’t forget, he has already had one home run derby crown in the 2015 Double-A All-Star game. He may not have the speed of a player like Jeff Bagwell, but he might end up being comparable to the former Astros slugger with how fast he got to the big leagues, as he was not a big homer hitter in the minors despite obvious power. No, I’m not saying he will be as good as Bagwell was, but could offer that surprising power.

As I mentioned before, White is not on the Astros current 40-man roster at the moment, so he could cost someone a roster spot.

White’s 2015 Stats: .325/ 14 hr/ 99 RBI/ 1 sb

White might have better strike zone judgment than Duffy, and could be less prone to slump like some players on the team with his ability to get the bat to the ball. Duffy is 6’3” and 215 pounds while White is 5’11” and 225 pounds, this may be something the Astros consider if you want a taller target at first base. Duffy is also far superior on defense, which White tends to struggle with, maybe DH is in White’s future. Should Singleton struggle this Spring, it could open the door for both of them.

Next: Houston Astros: No Dallas Keuchel extension this offseason

My wife always likes to root for the underdog, and that’s what I’m doing here when I pick White as the player to make the opening day roster for the Houston Astros here: Houston Astros: Bold prediction, Tyler White makes OD roster. This will be one of the more interesting battles at the 2016 Astros spring camp this year, and it’s hard not to root for either guy, they are both good players. Who will the Astros choose? Stay tuned to CTH for all the latest Astros news and don’t miss @talkingStros next week as Tyler White joins the show.

**Stats from Baseball-Reference**