Astros: Will Derek Fisher receive more playing time in 2018?

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Derek Fisher
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Derek Fisher /

The upcoming 2018 season could be an opportunity for Derek Fisher to stick on the Astros’ major league roster.

Once a late subtraction from the Ken Giles to Houston trade nearly two years ago, Derek Fisher has an opportunity to take on expanded role for the Astros next season. Of course, this idea is contingent on organization’s offseason plans.

Regardless, Fisher will earn more playing time in the major leagues one way or another.

The Astros have to be encouraged by Fisher’s performance in 2017. While he only had a cup of coffee in the postseason, the young outfielder provided a punch to an Astros’ lineup in the late summer. Sure, Fisher only posted an 82 wRC+ in 166 plate appearances. This is nothing noteworthy. But he did fill in admirably while the Astros were without Carlos Correa and George Springer at various times. His major league debut against the Rangers on June 14th – 463 wRC+ – and July 31st against the Rays – 428 wRC+ – were two notable performances. And a glimpse into the what may come for the Astros and Fisher once he adjusts to the majors.

The question right now is where will the playing time come from?

For one, Carlos Beltran and Cameron Maybin will likely not be back on the Astros’ 25-man roster next year. That’s 572 plate appearances between the two. Someone has to absorb at least a portion of those plate appearances. And it wouldn’t be a shock to see Beltran retire now that he has his elusive World Series ring. Maybin will be essentially forced out by a healthy Jake Marisnick. In theory, Marisnick and Fisher will join George Springer and Josh Reddick as the team’s main outfielders.

Thanks to the position versatility of Marwin Gonzalez along with the designated hitter role, the Astros have options in how they employ their outfield.

For example, Fisher could play left field when Gonzalez is manning another position. Fisher as a designated hitter is not out of the question on games when presumably Evan Gattis will catch. The 24-year old outfielder can also play center and right field if the occasion arises. Baseball is a long grind of 162 games so it is rather doubtful that each Astros’ outfielder appears in each and every game. Times have changed from the iron many days of the game.

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There is much to like Fisher in the future. His 147 wRC+ along with 21 home runs with the Fresno Grizzlies made him one of the top prospects in the Astros’ system before his promotion in 2017. He was linked to numerous trade rumors as the deadline came and went. In fact, I would not be shocked to see his name be floated in more rumors this winter. But Fisher could be an impact player for the Astros in 2018. It would sure be a shame to see them not give him the opportunity themselves.

**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference**