Is Tyler White an Early Rookie of the Year Candidate?
I knew after the 2015 Winter Leagues that Tyler White would not only play more than a full-time role this year for the Houston Astros, but he could also be the contact hitter that the Astros needed to improve production at first base. Everywhere he goes, all he does is make contact and put the ball in play. When you put the ball in play, it is more likely to find a hole or the ball to drop in the outfield. This was something that Chris Carter struggled with in his time with the Astros, just making contact in crucial situations.
This season, there was a slight scare to open the season as Marwin Gonzalez was the starting first baseman, not the guy who apparently won the first base job, White. I was convinced that White was the everyday guy until a Tweet from Brian McTaggart suggesting that Gonzalez was the starter for opening day. White has started the other three games after the opener, so maybe Gonzalez is just the designated Dallas Keuchel defensive whiz at first base for the groundball pitcher.
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You can not have asked for a better start to a career than White has had up until this point. In 13 at-bats, White has nine hits on the season with a batting average of .692. With the two homers and two doubles in those 13 at-bats, his OPS is an unsustainable rate of 2.022 for the entire season but shows that he will hit for both power and average. With the three more RBIs from yesterday’s game, he now leads the Astros with seven runs batted in on the season.
The Astros drafted White in the 33rd round of the 2013 draft as a senior signing for a bonus of only $1,000, and he has hit at every level in the minors and the winter leagues. There is very little chance that he can maintain the slash-line that he currently has or the 81 home runs he is on pace for, but he should be a stable force in the Astros lineup in the immediate future.
With his hot start, White could be moved up in the batting order to possibly bat fifth. Wherever he bats, he will use the same philosophy, just hit the ball hard. The more hits he gets, the more runners he will drive in. If he doesn’t win the AL ROY Award, he might be the Astros best rookie, but it is a long season.
When A.J. Reed is ready, if White is still hitting, will stay in the lineup at the expense of another player. Jim Bowden made a prediction that White would win the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2016. With his fast start, it is possible that he can keep up his production this season to win back to back ROY awards for the Astros. Like I told a buddy about White’s fantasy value, he is not Carlos Correa good, but he will be good. Good luck Tyler!
**Stats from Baseball-Reference**