For the first few weeks of Houston Astros baseball, the Great White Shark has been coming up empty with bat famine. Now, he’s feasting on solid production.
Houston Astros fans — the winter departure of Evan Gattis essentially christened Tyler White to take over as the “primary DH” of sorts. With that, the shark has been swimming for even the slightest nibble in the waters that is the MLB season.
Surely, it hasn’t been very easy for him, as White currently has one of the highest strikeout rates on the Houston Astros to date. Additionally, he has not a single home run or RBI to his name as of this writing. The power that was him in 2018 seems to have all but evaporated.
Nevertheless, there are some positive, albeit curious, things about White that no one has really shined a light on as much. Namely, it’s his team-leading on-base percentage of .436 that he currently possesses. Which, by the way, is almost 100 points higher than even MVP, Jose Altuve. In the past week, he has posted an OBP of .500, indicating that half of his AB’s in the last seven games has seen him reach base half the time he steps into the batter’s box.
In fact, you couple that OBP with a slugging percentage of a mere .351, and it is a clear reversal of what a typical major league player posts at any point in a given season. For context, a standard OBP is .310 and a standard SLG is .440 to give a league average OPS of .750. White currently sits at a .787 clip.
Let’s hear from the shark himself, courtesy of Brian McTaggart of MLB.com following last night’s comeback home win against the Minnesota Twins:
But wait, there’s more! Some other advanced stats actually show White to be performing much
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above average when it comes to contact and getting on base. Here are a few examples, courtesy of FANGRAPHS:
- wRC+: 130 (League average = 100)
- BABIP: .458 (League average =300)
- BB%: 19.6 (League average = 8%)
Sure, plenty of fans out there expect someone that primarily gets slotted in at DH to drive more runs in. And yes, the lack of power in the first month is a tad troubling. So much so, that some have even called for Yordan Alvarez to be called up early and send White packing.
I would urge those folks to hold their metaphorical horses for a bit. It’s only April, after all. As much patience as I had with Evan Gattis, I will have the same with White. He may not be cashing in all the runs we want him to. Regardless, he is setting the table for the rest of that lineup and creating the run opportunities.
Quite frankly, we should all be a little more appreciative of that. One way to start: enough of the weight jokes already! White is a true contributor to this team, even if he doesn’t get to the superstar level of our ABCs gang. Let’s enjoy him while we have him, for crying out loud.