Is Tony Kemp or Myles Straw more deserving to stay on the Astros roster?
The Astros will soon have a roster crunch when Aledmys Diaz and Carlos Correa return from the IL following their rehab assignments. Much has been written about Tyler White‘s struggles, and I find it unlikely he will survive such a roster crunch. But there also may not be room for both Tony Kemp and Myles Straw.
These two are similar players in that they provide good speed and generally decent contact at the plate. They’re both primary outfielders but also can play an infield position (Straw can play shortstop and Kemp second base).
However, Kemp is out of options, meaning the Astros would have to subject him to waivers if they sent him down to the minors. Straw, on the other hand, can be sent down without going through waivers, so it seems like he would be more likely to be optioned. But there’s a case to be made that it should be him who gets to stay in Houston.
Apples to Apples
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Straw has provided better production at the plate, albeit in a smaller sample size. He’s hitting .279 on the season and has a .405 on-base percentage thanks to a keen batting eye. Kemp, on the other hand, sits at just .231 and .320, respectively, in those stats.
Straw’s OPS+ registers at 105, while Kemp’s comes in at 97. This means Straw has been slightly better than league average at the plate, while Kemp has been slightly below average. Straw has also been better on the basepaths, with six steals in seven attempts compared to Kemp’s four steals in seven attempts.
While neither are bad defensively, Straw seems to be better as an outfielder thanks to his outstanding speed and strong arm. He’s still new to shortstop but has taken to the position well. Kemp has more experience at second base, but that’s less important now that Jose Altuve is back.
One area where Kemp has a clear advantage is in the power department, as he’s hit six homers this season while Straw has hit none. Still, Straw’s OPS is slightly higher and he has a better strikeout-to-walk ratio.
What It Means
It still seems like Kemp would be the one to remain in Houston, even though Straw has been the better player thus far. He can spend more time getting accustomed to shortstop at Triple-A and come back up in case of injury or when rosters expand in September.
Plus, it’s not as though Kemp has been abysmal. He’s still a solid player and provides some value, even though he may not be the team’s best option in that role. But the Astros don’t want to run the risk of losing him for nothing.
For Straw to remain on the roster, the Astros might need to find a trade partner for Kemp, which could be possible given the team’s need for pitching. Still, considering he’s already 27 and out of options, he may not have a great deal of trade value.
For the time being, the two will continue to battle it out to see who gets to stay once the roster is complete again.
***Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference***