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Houston Astros Countdown: Top Five “Sixth” Men for A.J. Hinch

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May 2, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick (6) runs out on the field before playing against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick (6) runs out on the field before playing against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Evan Gattis

Apr 22, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Astros signed Brian McCann in the offseason, it seemed like Evan Gattis did not have a roster spot anymore. Playing over 125 games in each of his first two seasons with the Astros, he hit 59 home runs and drove in 160 RBIs in 2015 and 2016 combined. So far in 2017, Gattis seems to be complimenting McCann extremely well.

Gattis still has an impact.

In 22 games split between catcher and designated hitter, Gattis has eight extra-base hits, including three home runs, and has driven in 16 RBIs. However, that is what is to be expected in Gattis’ offensive game. What has been unexpected is his increased contact-first approach at the plate.

With his walk percentage still below 10 percent, Gattis has raised his contact percentage by 4.2 percent. That may not seem drastic, but that little jump has dropped his strikeout percentage from 25.5 percent in 2016 to 17.1 percent so far in 2017. It can be seen in his batting average as well. Gattis is hitting .292 with a .852 OPS, the highest of his career.

Defensively, Gattis may leave a bit to be desired, with a .975 fielding percentage and allowing ten stolen bases on 12 attempts. However, regarding calling games behind the plate, he has done a solid job, with opposing hitters only scoring five earned runs in his last two games behind the plate.

Gattis is an offensive machine. With the ability to call a solid game behind the plate, that makes him one of the most valuable players off the bench.

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