The core pieces for the supposed Houston Astros dynasty are beginning to arrive.
With big names at the top of the lineup, such as Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Jose Altuve, the rest of the lineup should be able to feed off of the offensive potential that the Houston “Big Three” has. However, that does not seem to be the case. What general manager Jeff Luhnow has struggled with in his tenure with the Astros is with finding a supporting cast around these core players to build a complete offense. Other than Colby Rasmus, Luhnow has struck out on that front. So what do the Astros need to start building a complete offense? They need to start with shaping a table-setter for this offense.
The only prerequisite for a table-setter is the ability to get on base. This can be achieved through patience with walks or a good contact bat. A high average guy with a high on-base percentage that is reliable to be on base for when the big bats come up. A good example of these type of bats is at the top and bottom of the lineup for the Seattle Mariners. Against the Astros on Thursday, the combination of Norichika Aoki, Seth Smith, Ketel Marte, and Leonys Martin recorded a combined seven hits in 15 at-bats with six runs, 2 RBIs, and three walks. These players, even though they may not have the name and staying power of a Robinson Cano or Nelson Cruz, elongate and deepen their offense. This is what the Astros offense is lacking.
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Fans and members of the national media may argue that the Astros already have that piece in All-Star second baseman Altuve. However, his start to 2016 has made him so much more than just a table-setter.
Through 29 games, Altuve either shares the AL lead or holds it outright in doubles, with 14, home runs, with 9, stolen bases, with 10, and OPS in which he has a major league leading 1.104.
The Astros have an unusual situation with the so-called heart of their batting order as their first three hitters in the starting lineup. That really shows the gaping hole in offensive production from the four spot on in this lineup, with 4 or 5 guys that are low average, high power, and even higher strikeout guys. The Astros need someone who can get on base at the back end of the starting lineup to set up more offensive for the first three guys in Altuve, Springer, and Correa.
So what could the Astros do about it? Here are three candidates that could, in the future, be the table-setters at the back end of this starting lineup.
Next: Candidate #1