If the Astros learned anything from 2018, then Tyler White may have the inside track for the DH role in 2019.
Let’s be honest for a moment: The Astros were never clicking on all cylinders last season. Although the club boasted one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, the lineup always felt like a quality hitter short. The numbers may reflect something a bit different, but I can’t shake this feeling.
Offensive numbers in the second half, 2018
Alex Bregman – .283/.402/.520, 11 HR, 156 wRC+ in 271 PA
Marwin Gonzalez – .275/.352/.492, 10 HR, 134 wRC+ in 217 PA
George Springer – .301/.374/.476, 7 HR, 138 wRC+ in 189 PA
Tyler White – .287/.350/.551, 10 HR, 147 wRC+ in 197 PA
White’s performance, in particular, caught plenty of attention. The 28-year old hitter has been known for his above-average offensive numbers in the minors, but awarded only 343 major plate appearances from 2016-17. However, White made the most of his opportunity in 2018 when the Astros allowed him his best opportunity at consistent major league playing time. Overall, he finished the season with 12 homes runs and a 144 wRC+, which helped the Astros overcome injuries to a couple of key hitters on their way to 103-wins. His 174 wRC+ at home was a breath of fresh air for a lineup that didn’t seem to fully click at home at various points during the season. Again, the team’s cumulative 108 home wRC+, the fifth-best in baseball, indicates otherwise, but I just can’t shake the feeling.
The Astros are likely inclined to give White a long look as a possible DH/first baseman in 2019, especially since then-available options during the offseason are now elsewhere. He did enough last season to show he deserves a longer look as a long-term fit on the club going forward. His 2018 production is one reason why I speculate the Astros felt comfortable in trading J.D. Davis to the Mets earlier this offseason.