Astros 2017 Projection: What to expect from Yulieski Gurriel

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

What Fangraphs ZiPS expects from Astros first baseman Yulieski Gurriel in the 2017 season

When the Astros signed Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to a five-year, $47.5 million deal in July 2016, it was equal parts bold and head-scratching. There was no question of Gurriel’s talent, though many wondered where he would fit given the wealth of infield talent the Astros have in Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman.

The Stros called Gurriel up to the majors on Aug. 21. In 137 plate appearances, he slashed .262/.292/.385 with three homers and 15 RBIs. For a player’s first taste of the major leagues, this was decent production. However, the team is right to expect more of him as 2017 rolls around. Maybe a full spring training will help get his bat speed back to where it needs to be in 2017.

With Bregman now entrenched at third base, it seems Gurriel will be the team’s primary first baseman. It is with that in mind that Gurriel’s 2017 ZiPS projection is calculated and presented by FanGraphs.

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ZiPS projects Gurriel to slash .254/.325/.457 with 32 doubles, 21 homers and 75 RBIs in his first full season in the majors. This production rounds out to roughly two wins above replacement.

The 2016 Astros got 151 combined starts at first base from the trio of Marwin Gonzalez (74 starts), Tyler White (50 starts) and A.J. Reed (27 starts). Gonzalez was the most productive of the bunch, slashing .254/.293/.401 overall, but Gurriel’s projection is a clear upgrade.

What makes it look even better is the fact that Gurriel will likely be hitting in the bottom half of the order. With new additions Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick added to the mix, Gurriel could wind up in the bottom-third of the lineup most days. Production anywhere near Gurriel’s ZiPS projection would be a welcome addition to a part of the lineup that struggled for most of 2016.

Next: What to expect from Alex Bregman

Gurriel may not be a prototypical first baseman, but if he produces anywhere near his ZiPS projection, the Astros will be getting a solid return on their investment.

***Projections from FanGraphs ZiPS projections***

***Stats from***