Astros: Three Position Battles to Watch in Spring Training

codypoage
Mar 29, 2015; Kissimmee, FL, USA; A general view of the field from the roof of Osceola County Stadium during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2015; Kissimmee, FL, USA; A general view of the field from the roof of Osceola County Stadium during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Position Number One: First Base

Astros
Mar 5, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (74) dives back into first base as Houston Astros first baseman A.J. Reed (80) attempts a tag during the second inning of a spring training baseball game at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Arguably the most intriguing position battle for the Astros this spring is first base. Doesn’t that statement feel redundant? Anyway, this may actually be the year that Houston receives quality production from the position since the days of Lance Berkman.

Between Yulieski Gurriel, A.J. Reed, and Jon Singleton, the team definitely doesn’t lack for options. But are they quality ones?

Gurriel, the Astros mid-season acquisition last year, is scheduled to make $14.4 million in 2017. He could also be without a primary position. Left field is still an option, albeit an unlikely one with Carlos Beltran now in the fold. And it is still not known of how productive Gurriel will be in the majors. He had an 82 wRC+ last year, but that was in just 36 games. Definitely too small of a sample size to make any definitive ruling one way or another. But there are skills that make you wonder how much of a force he could be in this Astros lineup. In other words, the jury is still out on Gurriel.

Reed himself is relatively unproven. His 142 wRC+ last season with the Fresno Grizzlies was quite good. However, he only posted a 50 wRC+ in his short time in the majors. Like Gurriel though, this really isn’t much of a sample size to go by. Reed possesses the hitting skills to make his major league stint into a permanent one. However, he must cut down on his 34% K% with the Astros last season and improve upon his .236 BABIP. If not, he could find himself buried on the depth chart in 2017.

Enter Singleton, who is now off the Astros’ 40-man roster. And he could be completely off the teams radar in terms of being a long-term first base solution. However, he very well could change everyone’s mind with a strong showing in Florida. The skills are still there that made him an one-time top prospect.

Each one of these players has the talent to be the team’s primary first baseman. And while all may have their warts and flaws, the Astros should not leave any stone unturned in their first base search.

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