In an American League that has the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, Manny Machado and more holding down the hot corner, it is a tough task for a young third baseman to make a splash at the same position, especially on a team like the Houston Astros.
That being said, Matt Dominguez had a very good 2013. His .241, 21 HR, 77 RBI line may not look overwhelmingly impressive, but all those stats were second on a team that was sorely lacking for offensive productivity. His .256 average with runners in scoring position was second only to Jose Altuve.
Perhaps most importantly, with the second most at bats on the team at 543, Dominguez only struck out 96 times, or roughly once every 5.5 at-bats. On a team that averaged a strikeout every 3.5 at bats, that’s a mighty fine stat to have.
Dominguez was acquired from the Miami Marlins for Carlos Lee in 2012, with his main boasting point being his defense. Surprisingly, while his defensive prowess has lived up to the billing, it’s his offense that has started to stand out.
The fact that there are literally no other options at third base prove that the Astros have just as much faith in Dominguez as they do in Altuve. The job is his and his alone, and so far he has done everything and more to prove that trust to be well-founded.
At only 24 years of age, Dominguez can still grow into more power. He may even grow into a third baseman that can put up 30 home runs a year; it’s all just a matter of waiting and seeing. The spotlight will never be on him due to his counterparts on other American League teams, so there really is no pressure for him to contend with either.
Even on the Astros, where excitement over position battles are brewing, Dominguez flies under the radar. But that’s just fine. Hopefully 2014 will prove to be another breakout year for the up-and-coming third baseman.