Buried Treasure: Could There Be Hidden Value In Matt Dominguez This Season?

An opportunity was presented to Matt Dominguez after he was traded from the Marlins to the Astros last season. He was given a chance to play in the big leagues in Houston as a late season call-up and he did enough to certainly warrant a closer look going into this season. And that’s what I intend to do in this post, take a closer look and see if there is some potential sleeper value.

For the most part people look at the Houston Astros lineup and simply take a pass on anyone not named Jose Altuve, but you might want to linger a bit longer on Dominguez and do your research before passing him up.

We only got to see a month worth of Matt Dominguez last season in Houston, but even a small sample size has to be looked at. So here are the numbers for Dominguez after being called up late last season:

109 At-Bats
.284 Batting Average
14 Runs
5 Home Runs
16 Runs Batted In
17 Strikeouts
.299 BABIP

It’s hard to take one month of baseball and project what a guy is going to do over the course of a whole season, especially when that guy is seeing teams who have already mailed it in for the stretch run and are playing their own young pitchers. Still if you were to project those numbers out over the course of a season, just for fun, Dominguez would be looking at a 27 HR season with 88 RBI.

I’m not going to sit here and project those kinds of numbers, but I think it should make you stop and think long enough to realize there may be some hidden potential here.

After his call-up last season Dominguez showed that he could hit HR’s at the major league level. Whether he can do it over the course of a full season remains to be seen, but the fact remains, we know more now than we did and what we have seen you have to like. Dmoniguez hit his 5 HR’s with a FB rate of only 27% and a GB rate of 54%. I am going to assume that Dominguez will get the ball in the air more this season and that should help him maintain some fairly decent power numbers.

In four seasons in the minor leagues Dominguez hit double digit HR’s in every season. Last season he played at three different levels, but combined he hit 14 HR’s. At just 23 Dominguez hasn’t hitten the peak of his power potential yet and should still be getting bigger and stronger. As Dominguez builds muscle and continues to develop he will develop into a consistent 20+ HR per season hitter, if not reaching 30+ HR’s within the next couple of seasons. I don’t have any doubts about the power potential of Dominguez at the major league level.

What I do have concerns about is whether Dominguez can maintain a decent enough average to make his power worth owning and whether or not he can get on base enough to post solid runs and runs batted in numbers.

For being a power hitter Dominguez actually makes contact a pretty fair amount of the time. His first season in the minors Dominguez posted a K rate right around 20% which was worrisome. Since that time though he has seen his stakeout rate drop quite a bit, including a rate just over 10% last season at Triple-A before his call up. His 15% in the big leagues, in his first extended stay at the major league level, really isn’t too bad either.

The problem is making contact isn’t always enough. Dominguez hits the ball often, but he doesn’t hit it well often enough. His 54% GB rate is alarming for a big guy like Dominguez who won’t run any ground balls out and has to hope for luck and finding holes on ground balls, he did it last season, but it won’t be easy to do again.

Ideally you’d really like to see Dominguez bring his FB rate up into the mid 30% range at least. Even than it’s hard to imagine Dominguez hitting much more than .250 – .260 at the major league level. Still can you not work with someone who has a .255 average with 20 HR and 70 RBI? It’s not a great line, but Dominguez is capable of something like that and that makes for a decent sleeper in the late rounds, somewhere that Dominguez is surely going to be available come draft time.

The Astros don’t have much to offer fantasy owners, but Dominguez is going to hit in the middle of the lineup and even on a bad team that’s a good spot to be. As long as you don’t get your expectations for Dominguez too high, I think you’ll like what you end up with.

One comment

  1. Dave says:

    I think Dominguez is the perfect player to file away for a couple years down the road in mixed leagues (well 12-14 teamers that is) I see 12-14 HR’s this season, to go along with very inadequate counting stats and a .266 BA. Young players who can’t draw a walk aren’t that appealing for me. Luckily his K rate isn’t horrible, but even then, it would have to be pretty deep for Dominguez to hit my roster.

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