Luis Valbuena hit a career-high 25 home runs in his first season with the Astros. He struggled a bit in the second half, ending the season with only three hits in 17 playoff plate appearances.
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The Astros need left-handed bats in their lineup, and Valbuena’s bizarrely fascinating power ratio makes him a particular threat in ballparks that favor left-handed hitters.
Because of his impending free agency, performance will drive his presence in an Astros lineup looking to win it all in 2016. Barring an otherworldly breakout, all signs point to Valbuena signing elsewhere after 2016.
It’s a win-win for the Astros. A solid 2016 from Valbuena could boost a playoff run and potentially fetch and a compensation pick. But there is little room for error, as significant struggles could see Valbuena reduced to a platoon or even a bench role.
Next: Colin Moran