Houston Astros: Fresno Player Spotlight- Jon Singleton
By Colin Gay
The term revolving door refers to a situation where the same problems or circumstances occur in a cyclical fashion. This revolving door can also be used to describe the situation at first base for the Astros.
After Lance Berkman left the team at the trade deadline in the 2010 season, the first base narrative has been the same. A highly touted player tries to become the main offensive force at one of the most important positions when it comes to offensive production. However, the Astros have received low batting average, low on-base percentage, high home run totals, and even higher strikeout numbers.
Do the names Brett Wallace, Carlos Pena, and Chris Carter ring a bell? The player, though, that represents these qualities more than any of them is a former highly touted first base prospect and Fresno Grizzlies part-time first baseman Jon Singleton.
A centerpiece of the trade that sent Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, Singleton had high expectations as soon as he entered the Astros organization. Before he took an at-bat at the major league level, Singleton signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal. However, once Singleton made the majors in 2014, those expectations went down the drain.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
In his 114 games at the major league level, Singleton hit .171 with a .621 OPS. He hit 14 home runs and drove in 50 RBIs, but struck out an astounding 151 times.
With Singleton no longer being thought of as the first baseman of the future, with A.J. Reed sharing first base duties at Fresno, Singleton would have to make a huge impression to make another big league call-up. That has just not been the case, though. So far in 2016, Singleton is hitting .215 with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs through 52 games.
The problem with Singleton, like Reed, is his ability to hit left-handed pitchers. In 59 at bats, Singleton is .153 with a .485 OPS. Against righties, it has been a different story. Yes, his average is still at .246, but his OPS skyrockets to .955. He also has all but two of his extra-base hits against right-handed pitching.
However, Singleton has been struggling as of late. He has only six hits in his last 34 at-bats, with one home run, five RBIs, and ten strikeouts.
Singleton is in an unfortunate situation. People seem to forget that Singleton is only 24 years old and has only 357 major leagues at-bats under his belt. The potential is still there for Singleton to be a solid offensive contributor at the major league level. However, with Reed taking the glorified yet worrisome role of being the next star first baseman, Jeff Luhnow, and the Astros have moved on and left Singleton out to dry.
Next: Astros Draft: Six Players Who Could be Picked with 17th Pick
Even if it is with another team, Singleton still has potential. If he learns to hit left-handed pitchers and decreases his strikeout total, there is a designated hitter spot out there for him. It just may take time that the Astros are not giving him.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and MILB.com**