Amidst the bustle of the offseason hot stove talks, the Houston Astros already have a solid player that keeps getting lost in the mix in Tyler White.
In a perfect world, any baseball team would find ways to lock down the players they want. The same could be said about the Houston Astros. Names like J.T. Realmuto, whom I have also covered, and even Bryce Harper keep getting thrown around. Yes, having star power is a dream coveted by team owners and GM’s throughout the league.
Nevertheless, while heads are often in the clouds, it does distract from talent that a team currently has. Tyler White is a player in the Astros organization that fits this description. As the heir apparent DH for the departing Evan Gattis, White provides just the kind of pop the team needs to keep being competitive.
True, the Shark has been back and forth between the minor league farm system and the big league club since 2016. But each time, he has found better approaches to his swing. Here are some stats of his from 2016 compared to last season in 2018:
2016 Stats (86 games played): .217/.286/.378/.664, 8.3% BB rate, 23.3% K rate, .161 ISO, .258 BABIP.
2018 Stats (66 games played): .276/.354/.533/.887, 10.1% BB rate, 20.7% K rate, .257 ISO, .307 BABIP.
Additionally, White had a negative WAR of -0.2 in 2016, and a 1.5 WAR in 2018. Vast improvements abound the more you look at it. Obviously, they far from rival a superstar like Manny Machado. Still, these numbers are nothing to sneeze at, either.
Steamer Projections via Fangraphs already has Tyler White playing in 133 games in 2019, making over 500 plate appearances with a .249 batting average and a .765 OPS. These same projections also put White as a 20/70 guy with a WAR of around 1.2. Again, not superstar stuff, but still a full display of talent and potential.
The recent acquisitions of Aledmys Diaz and Michael Brantley do give flexibility to the two positions that White already plays. Those being first base and DH. Regardless, Diaz will be in a more Marwin Gonzalez utility role, and Brantley will get most of his starts in the outfield.
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All in all, the Houston Astros don’t need a full roster of superstars to compete for another title. First, because they already have some. Secondly, a mix of young talent and veteran leadership are the biggest ingredients for great team chemistry. Quite frankly, White is among those players that fit just fine with this ball club.
White has been slept on his entire playing career. He didn’t have many opportunities out of high school, he wasn’t drafted and wound up at Western Carolina University. He was slept on there and wasn’t viewed as a top-flight prospect, the Houston Astros selected him in the 33rd round.
Yet, all White has done in the pros since 2013, when he was drafted, is rake. He quickly surpassed more highly touted prospects and made his major league debut less than four years after he was drafted. So, don’t sleep on Tyler White. Or, better yet, go ahead and sleep on him. He thrives on it and the Astros are, fortunately, all the better for it.
The Houston Astros have a plethora of options at DH and at first base. However, the team would be better off finding a way to carve out playing time for White, they’ll be better because of it.