If the Houston Astros don’t make any moves to improve the corner infield spots, Tyler White has a shot at making the opening day roster.
The Houston Astros have had a black hole at first base ever since they traded Lance Berkman to the Yankees. We have gone through Brett Wallace, Carlos Pena, Chris Carter, and Jon Singleton to name a few during that time. There have been many other names, but it has been a revolving door there for about a decade.
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Things have not been better in 2016, as we have played five players at first base. They are Marwin Gonzalez, Tyler White, Luis Valbuena, A.J. Reed, and Yulieski Gurriel. It looked like White had taken over the job in April, but after the hot start, he went cold. White looked lost at the plate and developed a bad habit of backing away from curveballs.
The biggest loser.
White went down to Triple-A and set a goal to return to the big leagues. The Houston Astros experimented with Reed for a while, but he didn’t seem ready yet. White took this chance to work on his body, as he looked to shed some of his weight. This past offseason, White joined Talking Stros as said that he doesn’t have a super models body.
While he may not be confused with a male model, he has shed 20 pounds in about two months. His power has returned to his game as he has had many doubles since he has been back but reached eight homers in 2016. We talked to Jeremy Booth on Talking Stros about White, and he said it was impressive that he was able to lose that weight during the season. Towards the end of the season, White started looking like the player we thought he was.
With Gurriel on the team and Alex Bregman set at third base, it will be hard to find playing time at first base. Many people say that Gurriel will play first base in 2017, so White would have to spend some time as the designated hitter. Then you have to factor in Reed getting some playing time at first base as well. Gurriel could play in left field depending on the moves the Astros make this offseason.
There has been some recent talk about if the Astros should retain the services of Valbuena. As much as I would love to add Valbuena’s left-handed bat, you would once again have a clogged up infield. As we saw this year when Valbuena went down, it helps to have the depth. White could be the backup corner infielder this year.
In September, White batted .263 in 38 at-bats with five doubles and one homer. Should he get off to a great start this spring, he could earn his way onto the team. I wouldn’t count him out for the future, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Astros add an outfielder before a first baseman.