FanPost

The Call-Ups:  Hitters


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The 2011 Astros finished with the worst record in baseball, but traded away some veteran talent and finally seemed to be committed to the rebuilding process. A number of mid-season call-ups earned significant playing time down the stretch and impressed in a small sample size.

· Jose Altuve hit .276/.297/.357 in 234 plate appearances over 57 games.

· Brian Bogusevic hit .287/.348/.457 in 182 plate appearances over 87 games.

· J.D. Martinez hit .274/.319/.423/ in 226 plate appearances over 53 games.

· Jimmy Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 in 179 plate appearances over 46 games.

All showed glimpses of promise, but all showed flaws as well (walk rate, BABIP luck, strikeouts, etc.). Still the hope was that these players would build on their 2011 seasons and become major contributors in 2012.

Yet this season, only Altuve took a step forward and established himself as a major league regular. Bogusevic really struggled and appears to be a 4th outfielder at best. Martinez got off to a hot start, went into a terrible slump, and was sent down to AAA. Paredes spent most of the season in the minors, moved back to second base, then to outfield, before struggling in the majors and was deemed “not ready for the prime time”.

* * * * * * * * * *

Flash forward to 2012. The Astros finished with the worst record in baseball, traded away some veteran talent, and continued the rebuilding process. A number of mid-season call-ups earned significant playing time over the last few months and had varying degrees of success. (Note that I arbitrarily established a 100 plate appearances cut-off, which leaves out Corporan and Laird).

· Brandon Barnes hit .204/.250/.265 in 105 plate appearances over 43 games.

· Matt Dominguez hit .284/.310/.477 in 113 plate appearances over 31 games.

· Fernando Martinez hit .237/.300/.466 in 130 plate appearances over 41 games.

· Scott Moore hit .259/.330/.448 in 228 plate appearances over 72 games.

· Brett Wallace hit .253/.323/.424 in in 254 plate appearances over 66 games.

* * * * * * * * * *

If recent history is any guide, at least one of these players is likely to establish himself as a major league regular in 2013. Who will it be?

My rankings of the call-ups by the most likely to the least likely to establish themselves as a big league regular goes as follows:

1. Matt Dominguez – while I think the slugging percentage is inflated and the batting average will likely come down, he still has the tools and the opportunity to succeed. His defense is for real. He doesn’t strike out much and got big hits off of good pitching. I think he does enough to hold down the third base job and hits .260/.310/.400 or so.

2. Fernando Martinez – showed both the good and the bad with the big club. A sweet swing and surprising power, but also injuries (knees, concussion). His defense was better than expected and will play well in an outfield corner. Interestingly, if you take out his first concussion-affected stint with the club, he hit .262/.330/.515 in the second half. He strikes out too much, but the bat speed is for real. I think he sees plenty of time at outfield in 2013 and hits .270/.320/.450 or so.

3. Scott Moore – showed good pop and played a number of different positions. He’s a bit older, but was drafted 8th overall in 2002. So he has the talent, maybe he just needs an opportunity. His defense was sub-par at second and third but seemed okay at 1b/of. He likely will play a bench role to start off 2013. But I think he winds up seeing at bats at 1b/dh/of. Let’s say .260/.340/.430

4. Brett Wallace – showed increased power, but tailed off toward the end of the year. He strikes out too much and does not offer great defense. At this point he’s just a guy without any one particular skill that stands out. His hit tool hasn’t consistently translated to the next level. I expect him to start 2013 as the starting first baseman, but cede at bats to Singleton and Moore before the season is over. Forecast .260/.330/.400

5. Brandon Barnes – played at 3 different levels and showed amazing defense. Unfortunately, he looked overmatched at times at the plate. He likely starts the 2013 season in AAA and possibly sees time as a back-up outfielder. Forecast .230/.290/.375.

* * * * * * * * * *

Those are my thoughts, but let’s see how it plays out. What say you all? How would you rank the 2012 call-ups?



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