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Houston Astros: A Prediction of the Opening Day Batting Order

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Mar 12, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Tyler White (84) connects for a base hit against the St. Louis Cardinals during the game at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Houston Astros third baseman Tyler White (84) connects for a base hit against the St. Louis Cardinals during the game at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports /
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Houston Astros 2016 Batting Order?

The Houston Astros used many different batting orders in 2015, so many that I lost count midway through the year. New manager A.J. Hinch was trying to find the right combination of players. He might have found the right mix towards the end of the season and the playoffs, but Hinch just doesn’t seem like the type of manager to send out the same order all year-long. Injuries will also affect who bats where in the lineup, so this could continue to be in flux throughout the season.

After attending yesterday’s Astros spring training game, it seemed like the offense had a nice flow from top to bottom, could this be the order we see them on opening day? The Astros fell behind early, but Colby Rasmus and Jose Altuve led the Astros back driving in five of the Astros seven runs. Tyler White also added an RBI single continuing a hot spring training, which could lead towards him making the opening day roster.

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Let’s take a look at the my projected batting order.

First Hitter: Jose Altuve

For now, Altuve is the best hitter in the Astros lineup. George Springer or Carlos Correa could overtake him, but he is the perfect leadoff hitter as he has a high on-base percentage, speed, and surprising power to get the Astros off to a great start. For the past two seasons, Altuve has finished with more than 200 hits, which has not happened before in Astros history.

Second Hitter: George Springer

While Springer may not seem like a prototypical second hitter, he has become a better overall hitter batting between Altuve and Correa. He grew up a lot in his second year learning how to make more contact but lost two months after the fractured wrist after the hit by the Royals. With his development over the past two seasons, many expect a breakout year by Springer, who has yet to tap into his full potential.

Third Hitter: Carlos Correa

Correa is the most obvious choice as the third hitter, and he could be the best hitter on the team and probably the entire league. Some expect that Correa has a high chance of winning the AL MVP within the next few years. Correa is the total package, I like to refer to him as Mike Trout lite with not the same speed, but he is getting better at that as well. The days are gone that the Astros have Jason Castro hitting third, we have progressed past that.

Cleanup Hitter: Colby Rasmus

This spot in the lineup is reserved for A.J. Reed, but for now, and the Astros need the lefty hitter Rasmus to break up the right-handers in the lineup. The Astros had probably hoped that Jon Singleton would be this guy following the Hunter Pence trade, but he has played himself into a point where he might once again not make the team. Rasmus, like Springer, may not be the best guy to hit cleanup, but he excelled in the role last year in the playoffs. If Rasmus could continue even perform half as well as he did in the playoffs, he should get plenty of opportunities to drive in the dynamic trio hitting in front of him.

Fifth Hitter: Carlos Gomez

Close your eyes, imagine if Gomez can recapture his 2014 stats, he could be a third hitter batting fifth with speed. GoGo, as some of us fans call him, is in a contract year, so expect for him to try to play to the best of his ability to get a great contract for the 2017 season. A 20-20 season could be a fair expectation for Gomez, who could be a big factor in the Astros going deep in the playoffs. He must realize that he does not have to carry this team and has to stay healthy.

Sixth Hitter: Luis Valbuena

Many people feel like Matt Duffy should take over for Valbuena at third base, but for now, the Astros like having his veteran presence in the lineup. Valbuena does offer solid power but does not make consistent, productive contact. He does not strikeout at the same rate as some of his teammates, but popups and weak ground balls are a too often the results of the swings. Don’t get me wrong, and I like what Valbuena offers, but he needs not to be as streaky as he appeared to be last season.

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Seventh Hitter: Tyler White

Yes, I said it, White makes the opening day roster. White has been one of the most consistent hitters this spring. The emergence of White makes the Astros either look to trade or convert Evan Gattis to catcher. Once Gattis is ready, he will return to hitting designated hitter with White sticking at first base until Reed is ready. White does not have a history of power in his time in the minors but won the 2015 Double-A home run derby. He is a line drive contact hitter that knows how to get on base, and White could move up in the order as he develops. Hinch will start younger hitters at the bottom of the order, and then they can move up to production.

Eighth Hitter: Jon Singleton or Matt Duffy or Preston Tucker

Yes, I know this is cheating. My best guess would be Duffy because he has had the most success this spring. The only reason I put Singleton up here is because they have not ruled him out yet, so I added him just in case. Reed will not be on the Astros opening day roster, but his time will come soon. People also still have a love for Tucker, so I could see him also making this team without Gattis on the roster, but it’s hard to decide right now.

Ninth Hitter: Jason Castro

As I said earlier, the days of Castros hitting third are over. The benefit to this Astros team is that Castro has the potential to be a plus offensive catcher hitting ninth. With Max Stassi possibly out for an extended time with a hand injury, we are still waiting for an official notice, and Castro might be counted on more often without a true backup. Like Gomez and Rasmus, Castro is in a walk season as well. Despite the fact that Castro lost the arbitration hearing, look for the Astros try to re-sign the catcher without a true replacement yet.

Next: Houston Astros: Six Pitchers Sent to Minor League Camp

With a few weeks left in spring training, these battles will start to sort themselves out. Singleton could get hot and totally upend the Astros lineup, I am currently in Florida in a Magical Kingdon where dreams do come true. As I said earlier, Hinch will change the lineups from time to time based on the matchups.

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