Last year, the Astros called up David Hensley from Triple-A for the regular season's final month. The versatile player made an excellent impression in 16 regular-season games with the big team while playing four positions. Months later, after winning the World Series, Hensley is putting up a show in Spring Training, making a case to be the Astros’ primary utility guy.
After going 10-for-29 last year with two doubles, one triple, and one home run –along with a .345/.441/.586 slash line— in his first taste of the big leagues, Hensley is having a pretty nice preseason too.
In six games, he’s posted a .273/.429/.818 line after going 3-for-11. The good part is that two of his three hits left the park. Also, he’s driven in three runs, scored thrice, stole two bases, and drew three walks across 14 plate appearances. His OPS is a high 1.247. Hensley and Justin Dirden are the only Astros with at least two homers in camp.
And it’s not like Hensley’s two four-baggers were hit against two nobodies. His first one, on February 28, came against Mets’ lefty José Quintana, a 422-foot, two-run shot. He hit his second one on March 6, while facing Cardinals’ starter Jack Flaherty which traveled 372 feet.
At this point, Hensley is projected to serve as one of two utilities on the Astros’ bench along with Mauricio Dubón, who doesn’t offer as much offense as Hensley does – a stat I like a lot is that Dubón’s exit velocity average was 84.7 MPH last year, while Hensley’s was a pretty good 90.3 MPH.
Another good thing about Hensley is his ability to command the strike zone and avoid strikeouts. Not only did he get 80 walks across 104 games in Triple-A last year, but he also struck out just six times in his brief stint in the Majors in 2022.
A major vote of confidence was that the Astros didn’t bring back Aledmys Díaz and/or Yuli Gurriel or didn’t acquire anyone else to fill their void. Instead, they’re going with Dubón and Hensley to begin the new season.
Hopefully, Hensley will become one of the Astros’ great stories in 2023.