2013 Astros Extended Season Preview: Brandon Laird, recently called-up infielder

Scott Cunningham

In an effort to fill out this series with a player who maybe should have been profiled earlier in the spring, let's take an abbreviated look at Brandon Laird.

This spring, we looked at a lot of the potential roster to see how they performed last season and how they are projected to do this year. Since Brandon Laird missed the cut (both Houston's and TCB's), here's a quick update on what to expect from the corner infielder this season.

Just to refresh your memories, Laird came to Houston as waiver claim from the New York Yankees. It's possible this was a return favor for sending Steve Pearce to New York earlier in the season, but that's neither here nor there. Laird is the brother of catcher Gerald Laird, but hadn't gotten much traction in the majors to that point.

Entering this season, Laird had a grand total of 62 plate appearances in two major league seasons. He hit .232/.295/.418 in that abbreviated time, but showed in the minors that he can hit for power. He posted isolated power averages over .200 at multiple levels in the minors, including a .232 mark in 2010 with the Yankees' Double-A affiliate.

Laird just missed out on the Astros roster this season, despite blistering the ball in the spring. He did the same for Oklahoma City, logging 55 plate appearances so far and hitting .353/.364/.569 with two home runs. He's not walking a ton, and hasn't really walked a ton in his career. But, Laird does give Houston the positional flexibility to play either first or third base.

The projection systems also like Laird's power potential. Oliver has him hitting .237/.283/.382 in 573 plate appearances with 16 home runs and a 5.6 percent walk rate. Couple that with a 0.9 Fielding Runs total and Laird would be worth just under 1 fWAR.

ZiPS is similarly pessimistic about the rate stats. Laird is projected to hit .239/.279/.385 with 17 home runs in 613 plate appearances. That gets him an fWAR total of 0.8, coupled with very positive defensive projections.

Steamer is much less optimistic on the playing time angle, saying that Laird will get just 50 PAs for the rest of the season. At the same time, Steamer likes his bat a little more, as it has him hitting . 253/.295/.418 with two home runs and 0.2 fWAR total.

One thing all the projection systems agree upon is that Laird should walk at a rate of about 5 percent and strike out about 19 percent of the time. Couple that with defensive scarcity at third and you've got a nice bench player.

If Laird hits like he did this spring and in the minors, he's a great addition to the lineup that suddenly becomes much more flexible from day to day. If he doesn't, he should be a defensive sub on the infield who can spell Carlos Pena at first and Matt Dominguez at third while giving Houston a little pop off the bench.

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