Should the Houston Astros include rookie outfielder Myles Straw on the playoff roster?
It’s nearly decision time for A.J. Hinch and company for the Astros roster as the playoffs draw near. We’ve already looked at the decisions Hinch will face regarding the makeup of the bullpen for the playoffs. But there’s another decision that merits some attention.
Josh Reddick, George Springer, and Tony Kemp are likely to be the main starters in the outfield, with Marwin Gonzalez an option as well. There may be room for a fourth or fifth outfielder on the roster, with Jake Marisnick seemingly the frontrunner for that spot. But the Astros have another player who could make a bigger impact — rookie Myles Straw.
The Case for Marisnick
Marisnick has the experience edge, of course. He’s a known quantity for the Astros and has been to the postseason. He also provides some power — he’s hit 25 homers in the last two seasons, while Straw has only hit three in his entire minor league career.
Jake is also the superior defender and has a cannon for an arm. As a right-handed hitter, he could take the place of Kemp or Reddick against a tough lefty and provide lockdown defense anywhere in the outfield. He can also serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
As the boys from Talking Stros mentioned on Sunday, Marisnick making the team would mean more for team chemistry. The only reason Derek Fisher made last year’s roster was that Marisnick was hurt. Also, Straw has only had one big league at-bat so far. Listen to the rest of the show below.
The Case for Straw
Straw’s main asset, of course, is his game-changing speed. Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Straw swiped 70 bags in 79 attempts. If the Astros need a pinch-runner to be their version of 2004’s Dave Roberts, there’s no one better than Straw.
Though he may not have an arm like Marisnick, his speed gives him a ton of range in the outfield, so he’s no slouch defensively. He’s also a right-handed hitter, and while he offers virtually no power, he’s more of a threat to reach base. He strikes out slightly less than Marisnick and is far more likely to draw a walk. With his speed, a walk could be as good as a double.
To me, it looks like a tough decision, and it should be. Marisnick may have the edge thanks to his experience and defensive prowess. Straw is simply an unknown with the bat, so he would likely be limited to pinch-running duties. Plus, the Astros have other base-stealing threats in Kemp, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman.
But no one reaches Straw’s threat level on the base paths. He may have more utility to the team than Marisnick because neither will get many at-bats anyway. Reddick, Springer, Kemp, and Gonzalez will get just about all the outfield starts, and neither of those four are poor defenders, which nearly negates the benefit of having Marisnick.
Plus, with key hitters like Carlos Correa and Springer either struggling or banged up, the Astros might need to manufacture some runs in October. The team might simply have more use for a pinch runner extraordinaire than a defensive whiz.
My verdict is that having Straw on the roster could be more beneficial than having Marisnick. Now we just need to find out if Hinch agrees.
***Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference***