It’s only a matter of time till the Astros’ A.J. Reed starts mashing, but will he start the season on the 25-man roster?
After all the recent additions to the Houston Astros lineup, it’s really hard to see some players getting playing time. A.J. Hinch has a knack for playing Marwin Gonzalez regularly while Nori Aoki and Jake Marisnick will find playing time as well. Hinch has already said that the team’s preference is that Carlos Beltran plays mostly as DH, but that complicates things with Evan Gattis. The lineup is packed.
While I’m not ready to proclaim Reed the next Anthony Rizzo like Chris Perry above, I don’t think that we have seen the best of him yet.
Where does Reed fit?
Where does A.J. Reed fit in the Astros 2017 plans? Unless they plan on keeping 13 hitters, there is not a guaranteed place on the opening day roster. Unlike a large segment of fans, the front office has not given up on Reed. There is still a chance that Reed could be traded at some point this offseason for a starting pitcher. There are too many unknowns at this point to really decide.
One thing that Reed has going for him is that he is a left-handed hitter with raw power. This type of hitter is hard to find, and once Reed finds himself, watch out. He admitted to losing his way last season, gaining weight from eating too much in the clubhouse. Reed lost his swing leading to losing playing time. When he came on Talking Stros, he said he wasn’t given a chance to get back on track, but blamed himself for that.
He has moved to Houston to work out during the offseason with the Astros. After years of success on the baseball field, Reed has faced adversity. You can blame expectations or poor self-control for Reed’s failures from his first season. However, he’s learned from his experience and will come to spring training next year ready to compete.
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Reed must play well this spring!
Should he play well this spring, he could make the roster over the suddenly expendable Marisnick. A while back we looked at the ZiPS projections for Alex Bregman. I wanted to tell you what ZiPS projects from Mr. Reed. They have him projected with a .241/ .319/ .439/ .758 slash line. While they project him to have 540 at-bats with 23 homers and 73 RBI’s, it’s unlikely he plays that much.
With injuries and poor play, Reed could find his way back to the team if Yulieski Gurriel struggles. Part of the reason I think Reed will make the team is to be a left-handed complement to Gurriel at first base. Should Reed start hitting during spring training, he could force his way onto the team. Gonzalez can play first base as well, and McCann can play there as well.
On Wednesday, Astros manager Hinch came on Talking Stros to talk about the 2017 lineup. He said that Reed would have to play his way on the team. With so many great hitters on the roster, he will go with the hottest hands. If a player struggles, they will have a hard time finding playing time.
One thing that will hurt Reed’s chance is the fact that Hinch confirmed they would keep 13 pitchers on the active roster. While Reed is a power left-handed hitter, it will be hard to see Marisnick, Aoki, and Reed all be on the 25-man roster. Hinch mentioned that he still has faith in Reed and was always positive around him. Reed will hit, it’s just a matter of when.
***Stats from Fangraphs ZiP projections***