Tyler Greene started at shortstop for the Houston Astros in the first exhibition game of the season, but that does not mean he will be the starter during the 2013 MLB regular season as there is definitely a competition in camp.
Greene batted leadoff for Houston in the Spring Training game and it is a well-known fact that whoever wins the starting shortstop job will most likely be the leadoff hitter this year. The competition between Greene and switch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez is growing fierce, as both players desperately want the role.
“The No. 1 and No. 2 spots have always been where I’ve been coming up through the Minor Leagues, so it’s something I’m used to,” Greene said. “I love being at the top because you set the tone and can get on base for the big guys to drive you in, and it really allows me to use my speed and steal some bags.”
The 29-year-old Greene spent most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals until he was traded to the Astros in August for cash considerations. Greene batted .246 with seven home runs, 11 RBI, six doubles and 22 runs scored in just 39 plate appearances with Houston. He played in 34 games (30 starts) for the team at shortstop, but the Astros were not going to give him the job right off the bat in 2013 due to a .953 fielding percentage and six errors.
The 23-year-old Gonzalez saw his playing time at shortstop cut down after the acquisition, but he was still able to play at second and third base. He batted .234 with two homers, 12 RBI and 13 doubles in 205 at-bats in his first year in the big leagues. The fact that Gonzalez is a switch-hitter gives him an advantage over Greene, but that might be something Houston will want to utilize off the bench.
Both players are capable of playing shortstop, second base and third base, while Greene has played 14 games in the outfield in his four-year career. Unfortunately, both players also struggled defensively at shortstop last season, which is where the Astros need them to play. Gonzalez edged out Greene in the defensive statistics with a .971 fielding percentage in 172 total chances.
Even though it is still early and both men will get an equal opportunity to win the starting job, but I believe Greene will be the one who comes out on top. The fact is Houston desperately needs to score runs and get solid offensive production from every position. Greene simply brings the bigger bat and he proved it last season in his limited plate appearances with the team.