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Addressing The Crowded Outfield

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The Astros suddenly have a glut of outfielders at their disposal, especially in centerfield.

Seattle Mariners v. Houston Astros Photo by Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

If you weren’t busy preparing for yet another hurricane advancing towards southeast Texas, then you perhaps watched the Astros downright annihilated the Rangers in Arlington last night. A 15-1 showing that I will almost assuredly rewatch at least once this offseason as I also didn’t have much of an opportunity to watch. But I tuned in just enough to see that Jose Siri had himself a game to remember.

  • 4-for-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, 669 wRC+

Siri’s otherworldly performance last night somewhat reinforces this growing confidence about the Astros’ outfield depth from now on. Centerfield was viewed as a position with little depth to start the season, but that notion has been turned on its head somewhat since the departure of Myles Straw. The duo of Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers in center field has proven to be a nice supplement to the corner outfielders in Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker. But if Siri also proves to be an efficient option in centerfield, there is suddenly a surplus.

The question is what the Astros do with this sudden glut of center fielders. In limited time, McCormick and Meyers have been impressive, with Siri posting quality offensive numbers with Triple-A Sugar Land all season long. All three possess enough power to do some damage and are viewed as competent defenders in the outfield. But there are short- and long-term questions about each of them. For example, is Meyers’ success a byproduct of an impossible-to-maintain BABIP of .417? McCormick has fallen off from his breakout peak with a .118/.211/.118 slash line since his return from a late August hand injury. Plus, all three have shared the following flaw in some regard, whether in the minors or majors: High strikeout rates.

For a hitter, a strikeout rate typically requires 60 plate appearances to start stabilizing. Both McCormick (267 PA) and Meyers (110 PA) have crossed that threshold with the Astros for that process to start. Siri only has nine major league plate appearances to his name, but we’ve known for a long time that he has a high propensity to strike out based on his minor league figures. Of course, the comparison between minor league and major league numbers is sometimes more an apples-to-oranges comparison due to various reasons. But McCormick and Meyers may hold an advantage over Siri because their minor league track record doesn’t indicate as severe of a strikeout issue throughout their careers. It is worth noting, though, that both McCormick and Meyers have maintained strikeout rates higher than 30 percent during their brief time as major leaguers, which isn’t too far different from Siri’s numbers in the minors. If Siri can maintain a similar strikeout rate as his teammates, even in the short-term, I feel that the Astros would tolerate it moreso.

At this point, it feels as if the centerfield job most likely belongs to Meyers based on his recent level of performance. Throw in McCormick’s struggles since his return from the IL, and we could also see more of Siri in the outfield. Siri’s ability to steal bases may tip the scales in his favor depending on the situation. The key for him, as with everyone, is staying consistent with their overall performance. The Astros have a glut of outfielders to compete for playing time in centerfield in the short term. Let’s see how this shakes out for the rest of the month.