Astros: Five candidates to DH in Yordan Alvarez’s absence
Here are five candidates to pick up at-bats for the Houston Astros if Yordan Alvarez misses time.
The Houston Astros have yet to see a few of their players report to camp, either for personal issues or COVID-19 related reasons. Arguably the best of those players is DH Yordan Alvarez, who slugged his way to a Rookie of the Year award last season.
Despite having some knee issues, Alvarez was expected to be the team’s primary DH this year and continue to be a force in a deep lineup. But the team didn’t disclose the reason why he didn’t report to camp, which led to speculation that it was related to COVID-19. As of Friday, manager Dusty Baker said he had no new updates.
Even if Alvarez does report soon, he might not have time to get ready for the season opener. Then, of course, there’s always the possibility it takes him longer to be able to show up. There’s no way to know when, or if, he’ll be ready, so the team has to proceed as if he won’t be in the lineup. That leaves plenty of at-bats up for grabs.
In all likelihood, Baker may use the hole at DH to get some players a half day off here and there. George Springer could DH one day with Myles Straw roaming center field, for example. But there will probably be days where one of the non-everyday players gets to DH as well, so here are five candidates to pick up those at-bats.
The Fabulous Five
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Kyle Tucker could be the biggest beneficiary of the opening. The Astros certainly want to get him some regular at-bats, but he’s competing with veteran Josh Reddick. Reddick’s bat has lost its luster the past two seasons, but he’s still an elite defender. The team could get both of them in the lineup by putting Tucker at DH and Reddick in right field, thereby maximizing their talents.
Aledmys Diaz, as the team’s most accomplished hitter among players who aren’t expected to be in the lineup every day, would stand to benefit as well. He hit .271/.356/.467 with 12 doubles and nine homers in 69 games last season, so his bat is strong enough to fit at DH. He would also play some infield when one of the regulars gets a day to DH.
As mentioned earlier, Myles Straw would likely get some extra playing time as well. He probably wouldn’t DH very much, though, as his elite speed and glove make him more valuable in the field. The Astros could give Springer or Michael Brantley a half day off by letting them DH, with Straw taking their place in the field.
Garrett Stubbs would also stand to benefit here too. He served as the DH for the “regulars” team in the intrasquad game on Thursday, and he’s a solid baserunner as well. He may not offer much power but he’ll make some contact and get on base. You can certainly do a lot worse than that.
Finally, assuming he makes the roster, Abraham Toro could get some reps as well. He hit a couple of homers in his 25 major league games last year, and there’s plenty of upside in his switch-hitting swing. As one of the team’s better prospects, he’ll get some chances if the chances are there.
None of these players are likely to have the same impact as Alvarez, of course, but this season will be testing teams’ depth. Fortunately for the Astros, their position player depth is solid, and their lineup is already deep. They would be better with Alvarez, but if he’s forced to miss time, they should be alright.