TCB Hitter of the Week: April 15-21

Otto Greule Jr

Who will be the best hitter in this barren offense over the past week

Offense? Offense? Who said anything about offense?

With all the struggles Houston has gone through in the past week, it seems silly to give out an award for the best offensive player. This may make sense if it were given to the most offensive player, instead.

Yet, we struggle on. Stiff upper lip and all that. No, I didn't give George Springer this award automatically. Who do you think I am? I'm not going to let personal bias affect my award voting. I'm waiting until next week to give the award to Springer.

Honorable mentions

Marc Krauss

We're using the term "honorable mention" loosely this week. The offense has struggled. Marc Krauss has struggled. But, in five games, Krauss hit two home runs and nearly slugged .600 over 18 plate appearances. That's better than anyone else in the first base triumvirate right now and a big reason why he's playing more than the other two.

Krauss still isn't making a ton of contact, which is expected, but he's also not walking a ton, which is not. Krauss always had good walk rates in the minors, and I expect him to get on base at a decent clip eventually in the majors. As long as he keeps hitting home runs, that should make pitchers honest enough for him to draw a walk or two every couple of games.

Jonathan Villar

Sometimes, advanced metrics are hard to take. Every time I see him, Jonathan Villar looks like a dumpster fire at the plate. His averages are horrible. He doesn't hit for much power. Oh, and he gets thrown out too much on the bases.

Yet, looking at his offensive numbers over the last week, Villar came out average in weighted Runs Created plus (wRC+). That was a dead-even 100, despite hitting .211/.286/.421 in seven games. That's Marwin Gonzalez-level bad, yet wRC+ doesn't think so.

Why is that? Well, Villar had a double, a home run and a stolen base in his only attempt. Those sorts of things go favorably for offensive players, even when they're not hitting in other situations. Also, Villar walked twice, accounting for a third of all the times he got on base in those seven games. That counts too.

We also haven't even factored in how much the defensive metrics like him. Even if he has a sub-par offensive season (which he's likely to have), Villar could still be a 1-2 WAR player at shortstop. That's honestly more than I expected out of him heading into the season.

Matt Dominguez

Any time you hit a home run to beat a former Cy Young winner, you get a mention here. Dominguez continues to show his offensive skill set, which is home run power, no walks and an extreme contact rate without a correspondingly high batting average. He'll never be an elite offensive player, but has seen increases in his walk rate, his isolated power average and his defensive metrics have ticked up a bit. If he can sustain those small upticks, he should have no problem being a 2 WAR player this season, which is a perfectly-acceptable, league-average starter.

The winner

Jason Castro

Consider this the best of a bad group. Castro only hit .227 last week, but he had a .333 on-base percentage and a .409 slugging percentage. That led to a 111 wRC+, which is not great, but was one of the better totals on the team for guys who played in at least four games.

Castro was also one of the only guys with a double-digit walk rate in the past week. That's the thing with walks, too. Plate patience is not something that typically goes into a slump like the rest of this team is in. Even the dregs of the offense for the last week like Jesus Guzman and Chris Carter walked enough to get on base at non-embarrassing levels.

Still, this is a far cry from the offensive production Castro put up last season. Considering his batting average on balls in play is nearly 150 points lower than it was last season, I'm confident he'll bounce back and not hit .193 all season.

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