1. George Springer – RF
It is obvious who the Astros prefer batting leadoff most games, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Springer only had three plate appearances that didn’t occur with him batting first in the lineup last season. In 617 plate appearances at that particular batting order position, the 29-year old slashed .266/.347/.436 with 22 home runs and a .784 OPS.
Sure, Springer had a bit of a down year in 2018, but he can set the tone early from top of the lineup. While others may want their leadoff hitter to get on-base at a higher clip, it is hard to justify as Springer’s power more than makes up for that. Thanks to facing a left-hander starter on the mound, I see Springer playing right field while the Astros move right-handed hitter Jake Marisnick to center, which we also saw on Opening Day last year against the Rangers.
2. Jose Altuve – 2B
Not nearly as obvious as Springer, but this feels right? While Altuve could lead off, as he did in years past, there isn’t much of a drop off in terms of OPS in his career (.818 batting 1st, .795 batting 2nd).
Altuve is arguably better hitting third during his career (.855 OPS), but you can’t go wrong placing the 2017 AL MVP anywhere among the top three spots in the lineup. Honestly, I could see where Altuve will be shuffled between batting second and third, depending on circumstances.
3. Alex Bregman – 3B
Bregman batted third in 22 games last season, which is noticeably less than the 96 games he batted second. While the small sample rule is invoked here, it is also hard to ignore Bregman’s 1.008 OPS while batting third in 2018. Like Altuve above him, I can also see Bregman hitting second at certain times. The Astros can’t really go wrong either way, but I see the third baseman opening the year as the number three hitter.