Tyler White has earned the right to bat clean-up and here’s why…
The Houston Astros are arguably the deepest team in the league. Having three All-Stars out at the same time for a period could almost certainly ruin a team’s chances of winning. The Astros, however, didn’t tank at all. The Astros were missing Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve, the bulk of their line-up, for some time. Correa’s stint on the DL was from June 29th thru August 9th. Altuve spent some time there from July 26th and returned on August 20th, and Springer spent a few games from August 5th and returning to the line-up on August 18th.
So, taking a period where at least two or all three were out since July 26th thru August 20th, the ‘Stros went 9-13. That’s not bad when the three best players are out of the lineup at the same time. Since having all three back though, the team has gone 16-4 and steamrolled their way through these last few weeks.
Sure, the team stepped up and had its moments to provide offense and fill in the gaps. Alex Bregman, Marwin Gonzalez and Yuli Gurriel carried the load, but one player stands out particularly. Tyler White, in that frame, went 17-57 for .298 and drove in 12 runs. Impressive.
It’s not a secret that shortstop Correa is taking a bit longer to find his groove than anticipated. Since his return from the DL and rehab, Correa has batted .173 and drove in just 13 runs since his return to the lineup on August 10th. He is primarily slotted fourth in the lineup, the clean-up hitter, and a primed position for the perennial MVP. But this season, since the injury, the numbers just haven’t been there, and the injuries decimated this team’s offense all summer.
Meanwhile, White has been rock solid. He’s batting .308 with 35 RBI and eleven homers. White has played all over including first base, second base, and even at DH. He’s slotted as high as fourth in the rotation and as low as eighth and produced just about anywhere AJ Hinch is placing him on the line-up card.
The traditional rotation is as follows:
- George Springer
- Alex Bregman
- Jose Altuve
- Carlos Correa
- Josh Reddick / Yuli Gurriel
- Marwin Gonzalez / Evan Gattis
- Evan Gattis / Brian McCann
- Jake Marisnick / Martin Maldonado
- Tony Kemp / Jake Marisnick
Obviously, the skipper changes this from game to game. As mentioned earlier, White has played in spots fourth through eighth in his 50 games played this season. Shortstop Correa has been slotted as high as third and recently batted as low as fifth in his 27 games in returning from the DL.
The clean-up spot is Correa’s domain. And as we’ve seen in recent games, Hinch isn’t afraid to move him down a rung to change things up. I’m suggesting since White has the hot bat to slot him fourth until Correa finds his swing again. The numbers agree with me.
If we are just looking at the numbers from August 10th, Correa’s return to the line-up, through today, the averages are in favor of White batting fourth. With OBP like Springer (.343), Bregman (.392), and Altuve (.469) you’ll need someone to drive them in. In Correa’s recent 27 games when slotted third he’s just 7-38 for .184 with six driven in. In the clean-up, he’s a mere 7-47 for .149 and 8 RBI.
White, since the all-star break, has created 30.1 runs. He is batting .331 in that frame also. These stats are not including last night’s homer batting seventh in the lineup. As we said, Hinch likes to build his lineup by the matchups.
White is .357 with runners in scoring position (RiSP) and accounted for 24 RBI. Even in clutch situations (with two outs), White is .333 with 12 RBI. It’s a small samples size, but he has produced for the team.
When batting 4th, White is 7-22 for .318 with 6 RBI. When batting 5th, he is 13-42 for .310 with 11 RBI. He is a combined .354 with eight RBI combined when he is slotted 6-8, but he’s just too good right now to be that low on the card.
I believe Correa will find his bat and bounce back. He can take all the time he needs. Until then, the Astros should slot White 4th to produce offense and drive in runs. It’s worked thus far and I really don’t think Correa will take issue as long as the team is winning games.
*** Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com and MLB.com ***