For a team loaded with prospects from top to bottom, the Houston Astros seem to have a problem at a position where they once had a surplus: first base.
Brett Wallace has been given every opportunity to be the every day guy at first. Between multiple promotions and demotions, he’s only managed to thrive at the Triple-A level.
Wallace began the 2013 season as the guy. After a strong spring training, he sputtered to a 1-for-24 start with 20 strikeouts. There is no explanation for such a dismal performance.
Between Jonathan Singleton, Chris Carter and Carlos Pena, Wallace seemed doomed to never reappear on the Astros roster. But he was given another chance.
At first, he came out blazing, including a memorable two-home run performance early into his call-up. He went from batting .042 to .220 in a matter of days. And at .220 he has remained.
Unfortunately for the Astros, top first base prospect Singleton, fresh off a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, is batting under .200 at the Triple-A level. His power numbers are down and it appears that the suspension was a major setback in his growth process.
The job continues to belong to Wallace. Not because he’s earned the job, but because all other options, or lack thereof, have handed the job to him.
It’s not like the Astros are in a dire situation, where a first baseman is the one thing holding them back from success. But on the same note, they have no back-up just in case Singleton doesn’t work out.
The Astros would have done well to land a young first base prospect or two at the deadline, but for now, their hopes rest on the shoulders of a struggling Singleton.