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Answering the Houston Astros Questions in Their Search for a Designated Hitter

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 02: Christian Vazquez #9 of the Houston Astros hits a single against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning in Game Four of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 02, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 02: Christian Vazquez #9 of the Houston Astros hits a single against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning in Game Four of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 02, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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For Game 6 of the World Series the Houston Astros need to solve the DH question.

The designated hitter position for the Astros has gone virtually hitless in the playoffs, except when it was Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez has also seen his share of struggles. The roster of potential DH hitters is a short one due to the roster decisions made by Dusty Baker.

Rosters can change for each series, but once the series is set, the roster goes unchanged. The Astros have chosen to have three different utility players, two of which are journeymen, on their roster, rather than having a power hitter or two that play just one position.

In Game 6, The Phillies are starting Zach Wheeler, who in Game 2 faced Yordan Alvarez at DH while Aledmys Diaz played left field to fill the gap. Diaz in that game was 0-for-3 and was taken out of the game late for a defensive replacement.

The Best Option

Christian Vazquez is by far the best option at DH for the Astros in Game 6. The veteran catcher has both playoff experience, as well as the stats to back up his case to play. Vazquez is 1-for-3 with a walk in both of his postseason starts this fall, giving him a .333 average and .500 On Base Percentage (OBP).

Starting Vazquez at DH comes with a caveat–they cannot take out Maldonado at catcher, or else they would lose the DH.  Luckily, Maldonado has performed well this postseason at the plate, hitting .222 with a .300 OBP.  You might say that’s not that great, and I would agree, but it is vastly superior to his .186 average this season and his previous two postseason averages of .130 and .171.

The Next Best Thing

Maybe that option is too risky and you want a safer option that doesn’t use both of the rostered catchers. In that case, I leave you with Yordan Alvarez.

If Yordan plays Designated Hitter, left field will have to be filled by either David Hensley, Trey Mancini, Mauricio Dubon, or Aledmys Diaz. The stadium may riot if Diaz has another at bat this postseason.

Mancini has struggled as of late, but has only started five games this postseason out of twelve. All of those starts are at DH. Mancini’s slash lines are better when playing left field (.250/.333/.412, .745 OPS) versus that of DH (.229/.316/.382, .698 OPS).

Yordan Alvarez this postseason has only started three games at DH but has gone 1-for-4, 1-for-3 with a double and a walk, and 1-for-4, much better than his current track record.

Furthermore, Alvarez has a higher OBP and BABIP this season at DH, and slash lines at both positions are similar. Alvarez truly could use a break from left field to focus on hitting so he can get back in the groove for Fame 6.

David Hensley is the only other option, and while I like his production, he lacks experience. Hensley only played six games in left field this season and I wouldn’t put him out there for Game 6 of the World Series. In order for Hensley to play, he would have to DH.

Hensley has major upside, as he has gone 2-for-7 in his two starts this postseason, getting one hit each game. His .286 average is a good addition, but that leaves Alvarez as a starter in left where his hitting hasn’t been stellar.

Hensley hasn’t lost the role at DH, but with two strikeouts in each of his two starts, Mancini might be the better move, even if he only drives in runs via sac fly.

Vazquez would be my first pick at DH but if either Hensley or Mancini are playing, they need to bat in the eight hole.

Maldonado can bat ninth, but there is no way McCormick, who is hitting .250 this postseason, should be behind either of those two hitters.

One last thing to keep an eye on–Yuli Gurriel was hurt in Game 5.  It is possible he will get the nod at DH and Yordan will be in left, leaving Mancini to start at first. He flashed the leather in Game 5 and has even better hitting numbers this season (.281/.344/.446.)

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