If you follow the Astros new Triple-A affiliate with any intent, then you’re probably aware of Jose Siri’s hot start to the season. In only 10 games — 42 plate appearances — the 25-year old outfielder already has four home runs, including two grand slams, and 24 RBI with a 1.288 OPS for the Sugar Land Skeeters. While we know that RBI is a context-dependent metric, Siri’s recent performance is still attention-grabbing.
Due to those numbers, there has been some chatter online — Twitter, in this case — whether the Astros would be ahead to give Siri, whose primary position is center field, a chance at the full-time or even part-time gig. It is easy to spot why that chatter would pick up relatively quickly, considering that Houston currently has the fourth-lowest output by fWAR (0.1) in center field. Myles Straw, the primary center fielder, has shown flashes of offensive productivity, but those are sporadic. The primary drive behind his value is due to his defensive capabilities, which have shown improvement since a rocky start to the season.
However, a 0.1 fWAR with a 66 wRC+ in Straw’s first 150 plate appearances doesn’t inspire much confidence. He will have to make a living by getting on-base at a decent clip for someone who doesn't hit with a lot of power. If he doesn’t, then that performance could prop the door open for an outsider to receive a look at the position. Someone like Siri under these circumstances, but that idea does have its own weaknesses.
It simply takes time for statistics to become more reliable. After all, a hitter’s on-base requires about 460 plate appearances before the metric gains some reliability. BABIP takes even longer with 820 balls in play. For both Siri and Straw, there remains ample time for their statistics to take a turn one way or another. Or, maybe, those figures will stay at similar rates as they are today.
While Straw has started the season relatively cold and Siri red-hot, it probably would be a mistake to purchasing the latter’s contract at this point in the season. Hot streaks don’t last forever (unless you’re Mike Trout), and there was a reason why Siri was available in the first place this offseason. That’s not to say he won’t become a major league contributor in the future. But we can’t assume a hot streak at the beginning of May truly represents a hitter’s offensive true talent. If there is a new “normal,” Siri must maintain that performance at a similar level for a longer duration. We’re not there yet.
As I mentioned in the paragraph above, Siri’s contract would have to be purchased to join the 40-man roster, which is currently full. Barring an injury to an outfielder or another transfer to the 60-day IL, there isn’t a feasible way to add Siri’s contract at present. In the unlikely event that the Astros move Josh James to the 60-day IL as he continues his way back from hip surgery last offseason, I feel a 40-man roster addition could be a pitcher. In other words, an injury to Straw or Chas McCormick might be the only plausible scenario for Siri to make an impact in the short term. Of course, this is all subject to change if the former Reds farmhand continues to mash at his current rate with Sugar Land.