There is no debate that the Astros offense will be formidable this season. The question is who will bat where in the lineup.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch has a penchant for using multiple lineup configurations throughout the season. But that doesn’t mean that certain hitters will be used all over the lineup. Some will have, in theory, a certain assignment in nearly every game. Like a prescribed spot in the lineup.
Enter Alex Bregman, the hitter who will bat second in the lineup most games for all intents and purposes. At least for the beginning portion of the season.
As you may recall, Bregman didn’t get off to this best start last season. But he did manage to recover to post a .791 OPS by season’s end. And the majority of those plate appearances came via hitting second in the lineup.
Hitting Second, 2016 Statistics: .284/.330/.519, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 13 BB, 48 SO in 43 games
Any player that hits between George Springer and Jose Altuve will benefit eventually. Bregman himself did last year and I look for him to do that again this season. The former LSU Tiger may, in fact, improve on those numbers that I mentioned earlier.
I suspect that the Astros will employ a similar top of the order more times than not in 2017. And it’s hard to argue against that logic. Unless injuries (knock on wood) or ineffectiveness set in, the Astros will be wise to roll with those hitters. Of course, this isn’t a new or original idea.
The Astros roster as a whole offers Hinch a great deal of flexibility for the lineup. For example, the designated hitter role be filled by some combination of Brian McCann, Evan Gattis and Beltran most games.
Nori Aoki and Jake Marisnick offer more defensive versatility than offensive prowess, which will push Beltran and Springer to DH on occasion. And don’t forget about Marwin Gonzalez and his versatility on the diamond. In a way, the defense will impact the lineup more than originally thought. At least by me anyway.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference**