Astros Rumors: Who Should Start in the Outfield on Opening Day

World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Six
World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Six / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 5
Next
Yordan Alvarez
World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Six / Bob Levey/GettyImages

Left Field

There is no question Yordan Alvarez starts in the Astros Opening Day lineup. He’s a top-three hitter in the game, coming off of a season in which he slashed .306/.406/.613. His 1.019 OPS was second best in the game and he finished in the 100th percentile in Statcast expected metrics in: average exit velocity, xwOBA, hard hit percentage, xBA, xSLG and barrel percentage. Needless to say, he's a lock to start.

The question is whether he starts in left field or as the designated hitter. It’s believed he will make the majority of his starts in left field, but would a potential free agent acquisition move him back into a DH role? 

After all, Houston has been linked to Michael Brantley, Andrew Benintendi and Michael Conforto. We took a more extensive look at each candidate here. Brantley brings the most consistency, Benintendi has the highest floor and Conforto has the highest ceiling. All three are quality left-handed options that would help balance the lineup.

With Uncle Mike, assuming health, you know you are getting a .300 hitter, a quality defender and a smart base runner. That says nothing of the veteran leadership he brings to the clubhouse. He's also already got an established rapport with the locker room. A convincing case can be made to resign him.

Benintendi is a good defender, high average hitter and a gritty player that has more than once ripped out the collective hearts of the Astros. His power stroke has mysteriously vanished, but there is no place like Minute Maid to help him find it. It's easy to picture Benintendi slotted either second or seventh in a lineup that he would help bring much needed depth.

The most intriguing, and the most risky option, would be Conforto. Houston flirted with Conforto last season before the postseason, but he went unsigned. Might now be the time to rectify this? He's got an .824 career OPS and an OPS+ of 124, meaning he's 24% better than league average.

Though most of his career starts have come in right, left field may be his best fit. Across 259 games as a left fielder, he's saved 10 runs defensively. With the small left field in Minute Maid, it's easy to see him blossoming into a truly elite defensive outfielder.

Both Brantley and Conforto bring health question marks to the table. Brantley is rehabbing a shoulder injury that has now cost him time in both Cleveland and Houston. Conforto sat out all of 2022 with a shoulder injury of his own.

Regardless of Yordan or a free-agent, Houston will be starting a left-handed hitting left fielder on Opening Day. So who is left in center and right?

facebooktwitterreddit