Predicting the Houston Astros’ Opening Day Lineup
2014 Houston Astros' Opening Day Lineup Prediction
Heading into their second year in the American League West, the Houston Astros are looking to improve upon their 2013 record of 51-111. We are about a month away from actually finding out if the changes they made to the roster will pay off and turn them in the right direction.
Bo Porter is heading into his second season as manager of the Astros and still has his work cut out for him even with the improvements. This season will be equally as difficult for Porter, but help could potentially be on the way later this season with prospects like Jonathan Singleton and George Springer about to make the jump permanently to the big leauges.
Singleton, who was acquired in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011 with the Philadelphia Phillies, was limited to 90 games last season due to his second drug suspension. He could possibly break camp with the Astros but will most likely start the season in Triple-A with the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Singleton is the Astros' first baseman of the future.
Springer, who was the Astros first round selection in 2011, will also start the season in Triple-A but could make his debut in Houston sometime in the early summer. The Astros' outfield could certainly benefit from his arrival but will still have to wait.
All in all the Astros won't be as bad as last season, but the team could very well lose 100 games for the fourth straight year. In time with the moves they have made and the players that were already in the organization, the Astros will eventually make some noise in the American League.
Opening Day Starter - Scott Feldman
The Houston Astros signed pitcher Scott Feldman early during free agency to a three-year, $30 million contract. Feldman started the 2013 season for the Chicago Cubs before being dealt to the Baltimore Orioles in July. Now entering his 10th season in the Major Leagues, Feldman boasts a 51-56 record with a 4.62 ERA. Feldman is an average starting pitcher, but this former 17-game winner is now ready to lead this staff in 2014.
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
In a relatively surprising move this offseason, the Houston Astros acquired Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes. Lyles was once the Astros' top pitching prospect. Fowler gives the Astros a leadoff hitter who can get on base (.365 average On base percentage) and someone who can swipe bases as well. He has above average range which will come in handy when playing at Minute Maid Park and defending Tal's Hill in center.
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
At 5-foot-5, Jose Altuve is small in stature but large in talent. The All-Star second baseman will likely bat second for manager Bo Porter this season but could also be dropped down to 8th on some occasions. Altuve is entering his fourth season in the majors and has been productive. Altuve led the Houston Astros in batting average (.283) and stolen bases (35) last season. He will need to be as good or better if the Astros plan on making a move in the standings.
3. Jason Castro, C
Jason Castro was the Astros' first-round selection in the 2008 draft. This backstop is potentially on the verge of signing a contract extension to remain with the team for several years. Castro has shown signs of improvement every season and hopes to continue that upward trend. Last season Castro showed that he has some pop to his bat when he belted 18 homers. Hitting in the third spot doesn't require as much power, so Castro is going to have continue getting on base and allow the rest of the hitters in the lineup to do their job. Castro led the team in OPS (.835) last season.
4. Chris Carter, 1B
In the cleanup spot, the Houston Astros will turn to slugger Chris Carter. Carter was acquired from the Oakland A's in February of 2013 with Houston shipping Jed Lowrie back to Oakland. Carter hit 29 home runs last season which led the team as well as driving in 82 runs. Houston figures him to equal his totals this season and also have more of a chance to drive runs in with the combination of Fowler and Altuve hitting in front of them. Carter doesn't hit for average (.223), but the 27-year-old is only going to get better as he continues to play.
5. Marc Krauss, DH
The Houston Astros will have Marc Krauss as the designated hitter and he will bat fifth. Krauss was one of the players the Astros acquired when the traded Chris Johnson to Arizona back in 2012. He was very successful in the minor leagues but struggled in the 52 games he played last season with Houston. Krauss' batting average and on base percentage were low, and if he wants to stay in Houston he will have to improve on those numbers. He is also an outfielder and could give some of the regulars rest before some of the top prospects make their way up.
6. Robbie Grossman, LF
Playing left field this season is going to be Robbie Grossman. Grossman spent a little time in Houston last year, enjoying some success batting .268 in 63 games. With players like George Springer on his way up along with Domingo Santana, Grossman will have to spend most of the season looking in his rear view mirror if he has early struggles. With a team as young as the Astros are, it really is anybody's guess as to who will be in the lineup come May.
7. Matt Dominguez, 3B
Another young player in the Houston Astros' lineup is third baseman Matt Dominguez. Dominguez is a former first-round pick of the Miami Marlins back in 2007. When the Astros decided to go all-in on a re-build, they sent veteran outfielder/DH Carlos Lee to Miami in exchange for Dominguez. The Astros need the third baseman to build off the last two seasons in the major leagues and continue to grow as a player. Dominguez is a decent defender and can also can hit for power. With him slotted in the seven hole, the Astros have a decent hitter in the bottom part of the order.
8. L.J. Hoes, RF
Coming out of nowhere, outfielder L.J. Hoes burst on the scene for the Astros in 2013 after being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for pitcher Bud Norris. With only three prior Major League games under his belt, Hoes had four at-bats and no hits. Once he was on the Astros roster, he was given the chance to play more showing that he can hit for average and would be a nice addition to the lineup. At 24-years-old, Hoes still has plenty left to prove and needs to keep improving at the plate. He is an above average defender in the outfield with a strong arm and plenty of range.
9. Jonathan Villar, SS
Rounding out the opening day lineup for the Houston Astros is shortstop Jonathan Villar. Another player with less than a full year experience is asked to step in to play every day and compete in the American League West. Villar brings decent defense to the table and is an average hitter. In 58 games last year with the Astros, Villar hit .243 with his on base percentage being about 80-points higher which is always a bonus with a guy batting ninth. Villar was a part of the trade that sent fan favorite Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010.