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A Look at the Versatility of the Astros Roster in 2015

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The finalized version of the 2015 Astros Opening Day Roster was released today. One theme consistent throughout their roster (at least as far as hitting goes) is versatility. Here's how that will affect the team in a positive manner.

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

After sending Jon Singleton and L.J. Hoes down to AAA, along with Alex Presley being DFA'ed, the Astros were set with 13 position players: Hank Conger, Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Chris Carter, Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Villar, Marwin Gonzalez, Luis Valbuena, George Springer, Jake Marisnick, Colby Rasmus, and Robbie Grossman. With the exception of Altuve, the 2 catchers, and the one pseudo-catcher (who can really only play left semi-often), every single player on the team has the ability to play multiple positions. For instance: MarGo can play any position in the infield, and Jake Marisnick can play any position in the outfield. This versatility should be key in determining lineups, which I will do now.

The 1st is vs. RHPs, and the 2nd is vs. LHPs:

Jose Altuve 2B
Luis Valbuena 3B
George Springer RF
Chris Carter 1B
Colby Rasmus LF
Evan Gattis DH
Jed Lowrie SS
Jason Castro C
Jake Marisnick CF
Bob Grossman LF
Jose Altuve 2B
George Springer RF
Chris Carter 1B
Evan Gattis DH
Jed Lowrie SS
Luis Valbuena 3B
Jason Castro C
Jake Marisnick CF

Those lineups seem pretty close to what we've been predicting all offseason. However, what I've just begun to notice is how interchangeable some players are for others. If we wanted our version of a Murderer's Row in the infield, we'd start Carter, Altuve, Lowrie, Valbuena, and Castro. What if we wanted a Gold Glove-level infield? We could put MarGo at 1st, Altuve at 2nd, Villar/Lowrie at short, Lowrie/Valbuena at 3rd, and Conger as the backstop (Carter/Gattis at DH, Gattis/Rasmus/Grossman in LF, Rasmus/Marisnick in CF, Springer in RF).

Now, what if Dallas Keuchel is on the mound? According to FanGraphs, his spray chart is clustered around 3rd base. In that scenario, a MarGo-Valbuena left side of the infield should be of use, with Lowrie playing in lieu of MarGo occasionally. Additionally, his fly ball chart is pretty spread out in center and right, so Marisnick and Springer should be penciled in at those spots whenever Keuchel starts.

How about Scott Feldman? His spray chart is more focused on the right side of the infield. A shift would be quite helpful, especially because Carter is a bad defender and Jose Altuve isn't better than an average defender. However, Feldman also seems to give up a lot of flyballs to left and left-center. Playing Rasmus and Marisnick in those respective spots should help keep Feldman out of trouble.

So, what have we found? The Astros are ready to enter this season with a wealth of versatility that should play key in making sure the defense (especially in the infield) is at least major-league average before taking shifts into account, and the versatility should also let the Astros tinker more than most teams with their everyday lineup.