Entering spring training, we considered Tyler White to be a dark horse candidate to fill the first base job out of camp, and with the production he has put up in Florida, coupled with Jon Singleton's lack of production, White became the logical choice for the Houston Astros at first base to begin the 2016 campaign. A .366 batting average and a .460 on-base percentage will do that.
With the 25-year-old ready to make his debut, we wanted to take a look at some of the projections that are out there for the on-base machine that is Tyler White. According to FanGraphs (who provides three different projections), White is not expected to be at first for the entire season. Of the three projections, ZIPS has him with 107 projected games (456 plate appearances), which is the highest of total on the site. Here is a look at each of the three projections provided by FanGraphs:
Which projection you agree with may depend on how long you think White will hold on to the starting job with super prospect A.J. Reed waiting in the wings in Triple-A. At the very least, White will get the first month of the season to lay claim to the job, and his performance in that timeframe could play a large part in dictating when the Astros decide to call up Reed. A Reed promotion won't necessarily mean the end of White's time in Houston either. If both Reed and White are deserving of a spot on the roster, there are a couple of areas that could be in need of an upgrade.
Even though the Astros just acquired Erik Kratz to be the team's backup catcher to begin the season while Max Stassi recovers from injury, putting Evan Gattis behind the dish is already a move that the team has considered, at least in spurts, for 2016. This would open up a platoon at the DH spot for Reed, White and Gattis on days that Jason Castro is catching with two of the three being in the lineup and the third being a potent option off the bench.
Both Gattis and White are right-handed bats and have displayed more power against right handed pitching, but last year White raked against lefties in the minors with batting averages of .375 and .407 in Corpus Christi and Fresno. The other option would be to give White some playing time at third base if Luis Valbuena isn't cutting it. White has played more games at third (165) than first (82) in the minors, so this switch has the potential to be a smooth one.
The arrival of Reed won't necessarily be the end of the Tyler White era in Houston, as long as he continues to produce. If recent history has taught us anything, it's that Tyler White will be up for the challenge.