Among the random news from this weekend's FanFest in Houston this weekend, apparently Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis shed a few pounds.
Evan Gattis said he's lost about 18 pounds, wants to be more nimble.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) January 23, 2016
It's surprisingly early for weight losses, muscle gains and, "in the best shape of my life," reports to be starting, but here we are.
If you remember, Gattis laced 11 triples last year, which came up just one short of Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier for the American League. Gattis likely didn't attempt to lose weight specifically to hit more triples. Being more nimble could help Gattis in numerous ways, including playing in the field more in National League games or potentially catching this season.
However, it seems unlikely that just because Gattis is closer to 240 than 260 on the scale he's going to see more time in the outfield for a team that clearly values outfield defense. The trade of Hank Conger to Tampa Bay does open up time at catcher, a position Gattis played in 135 games with Atlanta in 2013-2014, but Gattis didn't appear in a single inning behind the plate in 2015. Barring injury, it seems unlikely Houston would try him there now.
Same goes for first base, where there could be at-bats following Chris Carter's departure. First base is the default position for the slow guy that doesn't have a position, although it's actually pretty hard.
There's nothing wrong with being faster, but perhaps losing weight is also about going through the rigors of a long season. In Gattis' first two years as a big leaguer, he totaled 783 plate appearances. In his first season with Houston, he batted 604 times.
To be fair, Gattis recorded a 120 wRC+ in the final month of the season before undergoing a rough postseason, in which he was 4-for-23 with four singles.
For the 2015 season, Gattis posted career-lows in on-base percentage, despite becoming more patient as the season went on, slugging percentage and BABIP (batting average on balls in play).
Among qualified designated hitters -- there were 10 -- Gattis tied for last with Billy Butler with a 99 wRC+. If Gattis performs the same way in 2016, he won't be reaching 600 plate appearances. But who knows, maybe sans 18 pounds, we'll see the Gattis that slashed .263/.317/.493 in 2014.