The Other Contenders
Following Berkman’s departure, the Astros started using Carlos Lee at first base. While he’d long been a productive hitter, by this point in his career his best days were behind him. While splitting time evenly between first base and the outfield, Lee hit .275/.342/.446 in 2011 with 18 homers and 94 RBIs.
His final season, 2012, saw him exclusively play first base (save for one game at DH) for the Astros prior to him being traded to Miami. He hit .287/.336/.411 with just five homers in 66 games. This would prove to be some of the best production they would get out of the position for several years.
In 2013, the Astros brought in veteran Carlos Pena. He had a pair of Top-10 MVP finishes and a Gold Glove in his time with the Rays, but he was clearly on the downside of his career. He split time between first base and DH but hit only .209/.324/.350 with eight homers in 85 games.
The Astros also acquired Chris Carter in advance of the 2013 season in a trade that sent Jed Lowrie to Oakland and also saw Brad Peacock and Max Stassi come to Houston. Carter split time between first base, left field and DH in 2013, played DH almost exclusively in 2014, and played first base almost exclusively in 2015.
He supplied the power the team expected, but he also struck out a bunch and failed to hit for a decent average. His best season was 2014 when he popped 37 homers. As the primary first baseman in 2015, he slumped to a .199/.307/.427 line with 24 homers in 129 games. The Astros non-tendered him after the season.
The club gave Jesus Guzman a shot in 2014 after acquiring him in a trade from San Diego. The 30-year-old played 69 games for the team that season but hit only .188/.272/.248 with two homers. The failed experiment was short lived, at least.
Marc Krauss played 33 games at first base in 2014 as well, but the results weren’t much better. In 67 total games with the Astros that year, he hit just .194/.279/.323 with six homers before being claimed on waivers following the season.
Finally, we have Tyler White, with whom Astros fans are quite familiar. He played 85 games in 2016 but slashed .217/.286/.378 with eight homers. He fared better in 22 games in 2017 and hit fairly well in 2018, popping 12 homers in 66 games and posting a .276/.354/.533 line.
Unfortunately he could not carry that over to this season, hitting .225/.320/.330 with just three homers in 71 games. He was traded to the Dodgers in July.