Astros’ Jake Meyers must have short leash entering the 2024 season

The Astros just can't quit Jake Meyers, but we will see if they are proven right soon enough.
Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

One of the more inexplicable things about the Houston Astros in recent years is the blood oaths they seemingly have formed with guys that can't provide value on the field.

Martin Maldonado was a fine player at one point in his career, but was one of the worst players in baseball last year. That didn't stop the Astros from running him out there at every opportunity while young stud Yainer Diaz had to battle for playing time. Maldy is gone now, but it appears as though Houston found the next guy they just can't quit in Jake Meyers.

In some ways, the attraction to Meyers can at least be understood. Meyers was in the top 10 among all outfielders in baseball in 2023 in Outs Above Average (9) and is widely considered to be an elite defender even amongst those that are allergic to numbers.

However, his struggles at the plate have been brutal. His first year in the big leagues went well, but his performance as a hitter the last couple of years has had fans clamoring for a better option. Amongst his peers, out of the 109 outfielders that have 600 or more plate appearances the last three seasons combined, Meyers' 89 wRC+ ranks 92nd. His .237 batting average over that same span (which was buoyed by a strong rookie season) ranks only slightly better at 81st.

Still, when Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart released his Astros' Opening Day roster predictions, there was Meyers yet again slotted in center field every day.

The Astros need to find a replacement for Jake Meyers

This is by no means picking on McTaggart. He's fantastic at his job, and the truth is that he has no reason whatsoever to believe anything else about Meyers. The Astros have been pushing the narrative all offseason that they believe in Meyers as an everyday player even with trade rumors swirling around him. While moving him always made objective sense given that his roster spot was arguably the clearest need for an upgrade, the Astros have been steadfast that they think his bat will come around.

Perhaps the Astros will look like geniuses this season for not giving up on Meyers. Sure, his offensive Statcast profile from last year shows a guy who's going to be lucky to get the ball out of the infield once a game, but this front office isn't stupid. Maybe it's as simple as his defensive value being so great that they are willing to look elsewhere for offense, especially given the state of the offseason market for outfielders.

That said, don't be shocked whatsoever if a prospect like Jacob Melton gets a long look this spring or if the Astros get connected to outfielders near the trade deadline. But a smart front office should eventually conclude that unless Meyers shows something soon, the Astros are going to need to find a better alternative.

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