Once considered a strength of the club, the Astros outfield has seen various changes in the 2016 season.
In theory, the Astros outfield was not supposed to be an issue this year. Sure, the athletic outfield may have had its warts, yet that can also be said of the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball.
However, outside of an early season surge from Rasmus and the quality performance of Springer, the Astros have yet to see this outfield play at full strength. Gomez especially has been a disappointment since joining the Astros during the Trade Deadline last July.
The productivity from the plate, for example, has been an issue as a unit. An 84 wRC+ and .273 BABIP entering Tuesday ranks among the lowest in all of baseball. Surprisingly this same unit has also hit 19 home runs before yesterday, which was good for eighth in baseball.
But where is the good if you can hit home runs, yet fail to produce when a home run fails to happen. Individually you can see why the Astros outfield is ranked so low as a group.
Remove Springer, or even Rasmus, and the Astros outfield would become quite dreadful to watch. However, the Astros did place Gomez on the 15-day disabled list yesterday and promoted Tony Kemp so the outfield may see an increase in production, even if a small one.
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And Gomez will finally have a chance to heal after some early season injuries that have continued to nag him the past few weeks. This could be the break he needs to regain his full health and return to a level of production that he expects out of himself.
From a purely athletic standpoint, it is arguable that the Astros have four starting center fielders on their major league roster. Gomez, Springer, and Rasmus can hold their own (historically speaking), and Marisnick is no slouch with the glove. Tucker, who is currently in Triple-A Fresno, is more known for his bat, but his glove isn’t terrible by any stretch. But this outfield has failed to provide the adequate fielding at times (see the latest series against the Boston Red Sox) or even base running skills (see -2.5 BsR) to help lead a “contending” team.
The Astros will need a fully productive outfield to go far, and yes I am including the bench outfielders in that equation. Maybe promoting Kemp while letting Gomez mend will pay off as the summer approaches. But the current state of the outfield isn’t quite as optimistic as it was leaving Kissimmee earlier this spring.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs**