Key Addition(s) & How Acquired:
C/OF Evan Gattis (acquired in trade with Atlanta Braves)
C/OF Evan Gattis was acquired in January from the Atlanta Braves for three “top-tier” prospects. Gattis has been rather consistent in his two seasons in the majors, playing in 105 and 108 games respectively, hitting 21 and then 22 homers.
His OBP and slugging percentages improved some in 2014—and by extension his OPS—but so too did the number of times he went down swinging at the dish.
Gattis hardly ever walks, but his advanced metrics says he was worth 1.4 offensive wins in 2013, and then double that in 2014 at 2.8. And that was playing roughly half his games at Turner Field. The bandbox that is Minute Maid Park ought to fit Gattis’ power quite nicely.
Gattis mostly played catcher for Atlanta in 2014, but that was in part due to the loss of Brian McCann. He will likely see most of his time in the outfield for Houston, while mixed with some first base and designated hitter opportunities.
OF Colby Rasmus (acquired as free agent; 2014 team: Toronto Blue Jays)
Colby Rasmus was a well-known prospect coming up through the St. Louis Cardinals’ system. He has never really taken off at the big league level as expected, though. But the left-handed centerfielder ought to be able to replace Dexter Fowler’s offensive production, while also freeing Jose Altuve to leadoff for what could become a murderer’s row type of Astros offense.
C Hank Conger (acquired as free agent; 2014 team: Los Angeles Angels)
Hank Conger has to be one of the most underrated catchers in the big leagues. He ranked fourth in pitch framing among all catchers in the majors in 2014, according to Stat Corner. If Conger brings that to Houston and catches 40-50 games, the Astros will invariably be better for it.
Utility Luis Valbuena (acquired in trade with Chicago Cubs)
Luis Valbuena is one of those annoying players that a lot of fans grow tired of quickly. He seems to be an average player who makes a lot of mistakes, but then you blink and he hits a key home run late in the game or makes a great defensive play.
Analytically, you know he fits well since the Cubs held on to him as long as they did, and he was acquired by the most analytically minded team in baseball currently, the Astros.
OF Dexter Fowler (Traded to the Chicago Cubs)
In 116 games last season, Fowler scored 61 runs, in part because he was on base literally three-eighths of the time (.375). He slugged a point short of .400, so he is not a huge power hitter. In that sense, Rasmus offers more value as a centerfielder.
Statistically, Fowler was average to below-average as a defensive centerfielder, at least for his one season playing in odd Minute Maid Park outfield.
Next: Who are the Astros to watch in 2015?