Whether it’s the starting rotation, the three outfield spots, behind the plate or at first base, the Houston Astros have a ton of question marks. First base may be the hottest contested position behind the starting rotation solely because the Opening Day starter hinges almost entirely on Spring Training performance.
Jesus Guzman, Chris Carter, Japhet Amador and Jonathan Singleton are the front runners, with the yearly let-down Brett Wallace pulling up the rear. None of those four front runners have extensive, if any, time as an everyday starter at first.
Guzman has spot-started and pinch hit throughout his career. His .259 average is adequate, but it was never done as an everyday player, not to mention that his average has been steadily falling over the last couple years.
Carter will be the DH, whether we like it or not. His strikeout numbers are the main thing that need to be monitored, as he set all sorts of records last year. It’s undeniable that the raw talent is there, but it’s time to turn that raw talent into a well-oiled machine. Carter will be in the position to make spot starts at first as well as left field, but his defense is iffy as well.
Amador is the biggest man in Spring Training. At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, it may even be safe to say that Amador is the biggest guy in any Spring Training camp. It goes without saying that power is his calling card. For being such a behemoth, his defense has always been commended by sports writers. In the Mexican League, Amador blasted 36 home runs and drove in 121 RBIs in 400 at-bats before the Astros nabbed him and sent him to Triple-A. From there, he failed to register a home run and only drove in two with a .302 average in 43 at-bats.
Singleton is the guy. It’s his time. Last year was supposed to be his time, but due to an unfortunate drug suspension, he was put on hold. If that wasn’t enough to wind up Singleton and get him primed to erupt on the MLB, I don’t know what will. The only reason the Astros acquired Guzman in the off season was as a fail safe in case Singleton wasn’t ready yet. Essentially,the position battle at first base hinges entirely on Singleton. What does that mean? It means that it’s Singleton’s job if he wants it.