The Houston Astros lost George Springer at one of the worst times, as the centerfield market didn’t have a player close to his ability. Jackie Bradley Jr. looked to the be the replacement, but the Astros stopped their talks and moved onto Myles Straw. While the Astros don’t have a lot of options for breakout seasons, the right-hander is at the top of the list along with possible pitchers like Luis Garcia and Bryan Abreu, while they don’t have automatic locks for the 26-man roster.
While the centerfield spot is a lock for the right-hander, he hasn’t had that much of a chance to make an overall impact in big leagues. With George Springer reigning the past five seasons, Straw has made short stints due to injuries and need, but his bat was never as strong as the rest of the outfield. Spring training statistics are a small sample size against major and minor league pitching, but you can make the assumption that Straw is fighting for his respect to be the starter moving forward.
What can the Astros expect from Straw in 2021?
While being a candidate to leadoff, Straw will most likely see most of his at bats at the bottom of the lineup in the eight and nine spots, as seen by recent lineups sent out by Dusty Baker. The right-hander advocated for getting on base as much as he can this spring, and by the looks of it, Straw has been doing just that.
Through 32 plate appearances this spring, the centerfielder has an OBP of .344 with two doubles and a triple. While cooling off these last few days, Straw might not be the leadoff man moving forward, if the Astros go the experienced route with either Jose Altuve or Carlos Correa. Kyle Tucker also fits the mold that Baker described a few days ago with speed and power, but at the moment, Altuve looks like the front-runner.
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Baseball Reference predicts Straw to have 329 plate appearances this season, as the starting centerfielder, but the numbers aren’t as high on him as I am. While predicted to slash .243/.323/.373, this is a fair estimate for a player without a lot of MLB experience. While lacking power, his OPS might dip, but he will need to rely on his legs and discipline to boost his OBP down the stretch.
Although most of the roster has had their breakout into baseball, Straw is still waiting to make his name more well-known. The right-hander is entering his fourth season with the Astros, and although being his first full year, he will have to breakout in order to keep his job with Pedro Leon working in the minor leagues.
Most of the lineup is solidified with everyday starters, and looking at the bigger picture, Straw is the only player with something to truly prove to keep his starting job. Some players will start spring training fast and fall off in the regular season, but the determination from Straw might lead to good things come April.
The Astros are back on the field on Wednesday in West Palm Beach against the Washington National at 5:05 p.m. After this matchup, Houston will be playing four more games until Opening Day in Oakland, Cali. In ballpark news, Minute Maid Park is planning on holding 50% capacity in April to start the season.