While the acquisitions of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran garnered most of the attention, the Houston Astros largest signing was Josh Reddick. They agreed to a four-year deal worth $52 million last November. McCann and Beltran‘s impacts have already been noted. Now, it is time to do the same for Reddick.
Here is an idea of what to expect from the right fielder.
Reddick has been struggling to find consistency since his breakout 2012 campaign. After slugging 32 home runs that season, he has reached 20 home runs just once since. Splitting between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers last year, he only hit 10. That ranked 29th out of 33 qualified right-fielders.
Despite his power struggles, he has been able to stay a slightly above-average hitter at the position. Since 2012, his wRC+, which calculates runs per plate appearance (100 is average), has been: 92, 118, 118, and 106. That is a result of Reddick maintaining a high average. After hitting a forgettable .226 in 2013, he has increased his average ever since. He reached a new high of .281 last year.
Even at his best, Reddick has struggled to hit lefties consistently. He has only hit at a .218 clip with a 21.5 percent strikeout rate throughout his career. In 2016, the 29-year-old was significantly worse. He was only able to manage a .155 average in 104 plate appearances against southpaws.
In 2017, manager A.J. Hinch will likely use him primarily against right-handers and hope to find a bat to platoon against the lefties. Teoscar Hernandez is a possibility; he had a .278 average against left-handers, albeit in only 42 plate appearances. If he can find his power stroke again, the Astros should have a viable bat in right field as George Springer shifts to center.
On the defensive side of the ball, Reddick has always been an above average defender. Since becoming a regular in 2012, he is second among right fielders in defensive runs saved, trailing Jason Heyward. He also has a Gold Glove award on his shelf. Reddick has been able to accomplish these feats because of one thing: his arm.
He has generally been described as having a rocket arm and the statistics back it up. Since 2012, he is second in outfield arm runs saved (rARM), which shows how little players try to run on his arm. In addition, the right fielder has 42 assists over the last five years, which is second to Jay Bruce‘s 50.
Reddick has the ability to provide the Astros with another Gold Glove caliber defender in their outfield, along with the aforementioned Springer.
One factor that could affect both his offensive and defensive game is something not yet mentioned: his health. In his five years as a regular, he has played more than 115 games only twice. He has had various trips to the disabled list for injuries such as a fractured thumb, a strained oblique, and a fractured wrist, which needed surgery. For Reddick to remain productive, he must remain on the field.
Assuming he is healthy, Reddick will provide enough value to round out the bottom third of the Astros order. On defense, he can be a difference maker with his ability to cut down baserunners. Overall, Reddick should be a solid player for the Astros in 2017 and beyond.
Dillon Healy is a Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. You can follow him on Twitter here.