MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to the first debate between the candidates for the Houston Astros' first base position in the 2016 season. Moving from left to right, may I introduce: Incumbent Jonathan Singleton...
SINGLETON: Hi, everyone.
MODERATOR: Golden Spikes Award Winner and top draft pick A.J. Reed...
MODERATOR: And the little engine that could, Tyler White.
WHITE: Thank you for having me.
MODERATOR: Well, you sort of forced your way onto our panel. Now, then, on to our first question --
TUCKER: Excuse me...
MODERATOR: Oh, sorry. Ladies and gentlemen, we've invited Preston Tucker to be part of our debate tonight, as well.
TUCKER: #FeelTheTuck, everybody.
MODERATOR: Yes. Well. Moving on. We'll begin with Mr. White. Fans want to know: What would you do, as the Astros' first baseman, to improve the team on offense?
WHITE: I'm glad you asked. My campaign has been saying the same thing ever since I announced my candidacy. You have to hit, and hit often. Put balls in play. Avoid the strikeout and put balls in play--
SINGLETON: You can't just--
MODERATOR: Mister Singleton, you'll have to wait your--
SINGLETON: You can't just put a ball in play. You're not a shortstop. You're not a center fielder. You're not a catcher. You're a first baseman. You have to put some balls over the wall.
WHITE: My record speaks for itself on that matter. I put a third of the balls "over the wall," as Mister Singleton calls it, as he did in Fresno in 2015... and I had a wRC+ fifty points higher. The results of my method speak for themselves.
SINGLETON: Where, in Fresno?
WHITE: In Fresno, in Corpus Christi, in Lancaster, in Davenport. Everywhere I've been.
SINGLETON: But you haven't been in the major leagues. Things are a lot different here, and the people of Houston deserve a candidate who understands that difference.
MODERATOR: Okay, Mister Singleton. Same question.
SINGLETON: It's simple. Mister White would have you believe that hitting home runs off of Victor Payano and Preston Gainey are indicators of major league success. It's not. Hitting home runs off of Wade Miley, Jeff Samardzija, and Brett Cecil, on the other hand, now that's something.
TUCKER: I hit thirteen home runs in 2015.
SINGLETON: Excuse me?
TUCKER: You've hit fourteen home runs over 357 major league at-bats. I hit thirteen home runs in an even 300 at-bats in 2015 alone. And I hit above the Mendoza line.
SINGLETON: Bro, do you even own a first baseman's mitt?
REED: If I may interject--
MODERATOR: Mr. Reed, you have something to say?
REED: I was a Golden Spikes Award Winner, which puts me in a club with guys like Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, and Alex Gordon --
WHITE: And Khalil Greene, Travis Lee, and Phil Nevin. Do Astros fans really want another Phil Nevin?
REED: My point is that you don't get that award without being a good hitter, which I backed up last year with an OPS over 1,000 in Lancaster and a .976 in Corpus Christi.
WHITE: Lancaster? That's cute. I had an OPS over 1,000 in Fresno.
SINGLETON: And anyway, A.J., didn't you strike out in a fifth of your plate appearances?
REED: For you, striking out in a fifth of your plate appearances would be called a "career season."
MODERATOR: Gentlemen, please. I'd like to move on to closing statements, starting with Mr. Singleton.
SINGLETON: I would like to remind you all that before you ever heard of A.J. Reed, I was the best first base prospect in baseball. I may not hit the ball as often as Tyler White, and I my version of a "hashtag" may be different than Preston Tucker's, but I happen to be the only first baseman on the 40-man roster, and the only person standing on this stage with experience at the big league level.
TUCKER: Excuse me?
SINGLETON: Have I made some mistakes while I've been there? Sure. Everyone does. But let's not base what I'm going to be in 2016 on (giggles) 420 plate appearances scattered over two years. I've learned from my mistakes, and I've made adjustments. Reed and White, they haven't faced big league pitching. They haven't had the time to make the adjustments. Does anyone really think they're going to come out of the gate putting up the video-game numbers they put up in the minors? Vote Singleton.
MODERATOR: Mister White?
WHITE: Simply put, I am you. I was never supposed to be here, in this conversation. I was drafted in the 33rd round. I was held in leagues where I was the oldest player on my team. I was never a top prospect. But this is America, and in America if you work hard and deliver results, you can find yourself on the biggest stage. Well, here I am. Every time someone predicted I would fail, I didn't. I put up a wRC+ above 100 in every single stop of the way, and above 150 in most of them. I may hit fewer home runs than these other guys, but I've walked more than I've struck out, and I do have a career minor league ISO of .177. I also have positional flexibility. If you want results, you'll choose the guy who's gotten them at every single stop along the way. Tyler White. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. A.J. Reed.
REED: You may think I still need a little seasoning. I can hear you now. "237 plate appearances at Double-A? That's not enough!" But Jose Altuve had 153 plate appearances at Double-A before he moved to the majors, and how did that work out? There can be little doubt that I am the Astros' first baseman of the future, with a blend of power and patience unparalleled by anyone else on this stage. The only question you have to ask yourself is: Is it too soon to give me the job? I say it isn't. Jon Singleton was twenty-two years old - the same age I am now - when he took a big payday and moved to the major leagues. Does anyone honestly think that I will do as poorly as he did then? Or even as poorly as he'd do in 2016, if given the job? I'm a more-complete hitter than he ever was in the minors, and I deserve the chance to show it against major league competition. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Great. That wraps things up--
TUCKER: I have something to say.
MODERATOR: We really don't have time--
WHITE: Let the man speak.
SINGLETON: Yeah, let's hear what he has to say.
MODERATOR: He's not a serious candidate for the first base position.
REED: C'mon. We all had a chance to make our cases.
MODERATOR: Very well. Mister Tucker, your closing argument?
(all eyes on Tucker)
(the most silence)
MODERATOR: Great. Thank you, gentlemen. Best of luck to you all in 2016.