The Houston Astros and fans were blessed with the talent and ability of George Springer from 2014 to 2020, and by the looks of the 2021 season, it is evident that Myles Straw will be the man moving forward for this season and possible years to come. There are other possibilities brewing in the farm system with Pedro Leon being signed out of Cuba, but Straw is the starting centerfielder right now.
Astros’ fans have had their minds engraved by the overall accolades that Springer collected, that they want to see the next man step up and replicate it. There wasn’t a centerfielder on the market last offseason that was worth the cost for talent to replace Springer, while he was the best option in free agency. As Straw is a totally different player, there are reasons why fans shouldn’t be so quick to give up on his ability.
While the Astros are struggling in all categories, here are 3 reasons to not count out Myles Straw.
From an analytical outlook, there is much more behind a player’s batting average, on-base percentage and OPS that you need to look at the overall percentages behind a hitter’s swing. As Straw isn’t a hitter with a lot of pop, it would behoove fans to realize Straw and Springer are two totally different players that benefit from different parts of the game.
1. Getting unlucky at the plate.
From a right-handed swing that doesn’t rely on much power, Straw has 11 hits in 55 at bats thus far. While not having an extra base hit through 16 games, he missed Wednesday’s game, as he dealt with side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. The centerfielder is currently hitting .200/.262/.200 in 61 plate appearances.
Although not looking great on paper, Baseball Savant shows more behind the swings of hitter. As Straw is showing diligence with a low chase and whiff percentages, the right-hander has a higher expected batting average at the plate than the league average. The fact is that Straw isn’t a hard ball hitter, because that’s not the player that he is; he looks to spray singles across the outfield as a push hitter. While power isn’t hit best strong suit, don’t look to slugging and an overly high OPS when analyzing Straw’s numbers.
2. Regression to the mean.
Almost all players even out throughout a season; that could be regressing to the league average or building up to it. For a player like Straw, he has never played more than 56 games in a season, and as early 2021 is looking like 2020, progression needs to be understood about Astros’ hitters.
The bats will come around just like Manager Dusty Baker has said many of times, but when looking at Straw in a bigger sample size, all of his hitting numbers are closer to the league average like in 2019. Straw only has one pulled swing all season, which is interesting in this current game of baseball, but the lost numbers from Springer’s bat have to be picked up else where in someone like Yordan Alvarez who returned to the lineup in 2021.
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3. Will have more experience down the stretch.
As Springer called centerfield home for about six years at Minute Maid Park, Straw was never given that surplus of opportunities to get experience at the major league level. While Jake Marisnick was the go-to fourth outfielder until he was traded before the 2020 season, Straw only played in 98 games for the Astros before taking the starting reigns.
This does seem like a larger sample size, but Baseball Reference doesn’t show the totals of those games being starts or defensive adjustments. It takes time to get adjusted to the major league level and can be hard to hone a certain approach at the plate, but over more at bats, Straw can get closer to those league averages.
Defensive approaches look to be an early struggle as well, but for Bryan Abreu to call Straw out to the media is something worth discussing privately. Bench coaches usually tell outfielders where they need to stand and adjust to, but with the ball moving much faster in thin air, Straw wasn’t in the perfect position for a missed grab in Tuesday’s game.
This article comes as a response to many fans showing their displeasure with the Astros on social media. While everyone has their right to show their opinion to their favorite team, it is worth noting that Astros’ fans have a model for a perfect centerfielder and that model now plays in Toronto. Straw has the talent to be effective at different things than that of Springer, and this doesn’t come as a list of excused issues, but analysis worth thinking about when making a judgement.