Astros Position Review: Third Base
As we continue our series on the Astros’ 2016 Position Reviews, we now shift our focus to third base.
Valbuena was in the middle of his career year when he injured his right hamstring at the end of July, coincidentally at a game I attended, and cut his season short. After suffering a setback in August, Valbuena had surgery to repair the tendon, thus potentially ending his Astros tenure. Valbuena played in 90 games and saw a career high in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging, along with an increased rate in H, HR, 2B, BB, and RBI. Valbuena was also a vacuum fielding the position of 3B and showed off his cannon on more than one occasion. Valbuena was well on his way to potentially receiving a QO, but sadly saw that go out the window with the injury.
2016 Stats: .260/.357.459/.816, 17 2B, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 44 BB/81 K, 2.6 WAR
The 2015 Draft’s #2 overall pick shot through the minor league system like a speeding bullet, crushing the ball at every level. His call up was much deserved, and on July 25th he made his major league debut. His first hit didn’t come until July 31st and his second didn’t come until August 4th, capping off a 1-40 start to his major league career.
From there, Bregman shined. Bregman hit everything in sight, collecting consecutive 3-hit games and continuing to flash the glove at 3B instead of SS where he was drafted to play. He worked his batting average up from .050 up to .264 by season’s end and showing some surprising power at the Major League Level. He continued to get better, looking like the #2 overall pick he was and a future cornerstone in the Astros’ futures.
2016 Stats: .264/.313/.478/.791, 13 2B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 15 BB/52 K, 1.8 WAR
The Astros surprised baseball by pulling the 32 year old rookie to Houston in Mid-July, making fans question the future plans for Alex Bregman, but nevertheless, they can both play. Well, not both 3B. At this point it looks like 3B is Alex Bregman’s to lose, but Gurriel could always see time at the hot corner. His bat is a huge strength, and while he might not play a lot of 3B, he needs to be placed somewhere he can show off the cannon of an arm he possesses. He might be in his age 33 as a sophomore in 2017, but he hasn’t lost a step
2016 Stats: .262/.292/.385/.677, 7 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 5 BB/12 K
Another rookie that performed well in AAA, Moran struggled mightily at the Major League level. Moran struggled in a very small sample size and after only 20 at bats he was optioned back to AAA. He would get another four at bats late in the season. Still time for him to turn it around.
2016 Stats: .130/.200/.174/.374, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB/8 K
Overall Grade: B-
Valbuena had his career year and Alex Bregman did a fine job as his replacement once he got over the major league-sized hump. Bregman looked like a bonafide stud as he and Gurriel had their first tastes of Major League Baseball. Sadly for Valbuena, it doesn’t look like he’ll be returning to Houston in 2017 after his season-ending injury and the emergence of Bregman and Gurriel to man the hot corner.
Bregman looks like the starter going into 2017 with Gurriel as another option at third base if needed. This is where it gets controversial though. One cannot deny that Alex Bregman’s trade stock is huge, and if the Astros wanted to trade for a bonafide ace, it would take another bonafide piece to push that trade over the top. Either way, the Astros look to be set at the hot corner going into 2017.
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**Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images**