With Jose Altuve day-to-day with a hamstring injury, the Houston Astros will probably look to their current utility players to fill the void. With both Niko Goodrum and Aledmys Diaz filling out the bench for the infield, it’s likely they will split time to fill in while Altuve recovers.
Let’s take a critical look at how replacements for Jose Altuve will fare and how the lineup is impacted with this change.
One thing is for sure, Altuve’s leadership will be the most missed aspect on the field as manager Dusty Baker said last October, “As he goes, we go,” referring to Altuve. Altuve will also greatly be missed in the lineup, not for his production thus far this season as it has been less than impressive at a .167 average with one home run, two RBI and a stolen base, but rather in the leadoff spot.
The Astros lineup has a lot of power and solid production but speed is currently at a premium with Altuve and Jake Meyers out, you only have Jose Siri, Chas McCormick and Jeremy Peña left with real speed, followed by Kyle Tucker and Michael Brantley with decent but not overwhelming speed.
Who will fill the leadoff hole and show Baker’s managerial style and preference, which could be a big shift for young players? The leadoff spot will likely be given to either Siri, who Baker currently raves about, or Peña, who is has had a hot start to the season.
My current vote is for Brantley, which would provide a consistent bat at the top spot and would be followed by Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel and Tucker. Which will Baker choose? You can almost bet on Siri or Peña, who will likely take the reins Tuesday night.
Diaz would be a definite downgrade at the position, as most any player would, but even with Altuve’s current production, Diaz is currently hitting .182 with a home run and two RBI. Diaz also has a much-lower defensive grade and range, along with the lack leadership ability.
The righty, much like Altuve at the plate, had two of his four hits the second game of the season and all of his RBI from his home run that same game. Since April 8, Diaz is hitting .111 with no RBI or runs scored, but in Altuve’s one missed start this season, he was the go-to replacement.
Goodrum has had his spot starts this year so far and like Altuve is hitting .167. Goodrum has played in five games where he got an at-bat and has all of his two hits this season in his last game started in Seattle.
Goodrum would be a solid defensive and speed switch for Baker, but obviously, he has to get on base to have an impact with his speed. Baker might bet on him in some cases though with his defensive prowess compared to Diaz, and he did hit him in the three-hole so Baker sees Goodrum as a good hitter, much to the chagrin of Astros nation.
Barreto has not played up to the hype so far this season in Triple-A and is on his way out the door if his play continues as such. Barreto is hitting .182 with almost half as many strikeouts as he has at-bats, totaling 21 strikeouts over 44 at-bats.
With only one home run, two RBI and two stolen bases, Barreto is not producing much and if that production continues, you have to imagine another player will get promoted to take hit spot in Sugar Land. Needless to say, Barreto will not be playing nor called up for the week to fill the void.
All-in-all, my guess is McCormick’s only hope of playing again will be upon Altuve’s return. Altuve might have a good go-to recovery coach in the Astros platoon centerfielder, as Siri started and hit leadoff last time Altuve was out, and he will likely again the next few games or more that Altuve needs to fully recover.
I hope the Astros do take it slow with Altuve’s recovery, because the April games mean a whole lot less than the September and October games will, and I would rather he return to 100% before getting on the field again.
I hope Altuve is back soon, but he needs a full recovery time so he doesn’t reprise his injury throughout the season and hinder his play and his team’s chances in the future.