A few days ago, I wrote about how vital Dallas Keuchel could be to the Houston Astros. The worst team in the American League (and second-worst in the Majors, just percentage points ahead of the Cubs) will need a lot more than great pitching performances from young players if they hope to stay competitive all season long. In terms of offense, it isn’t enough if former all-stars Jose Altuve and Jason Castro and mega-prospect George Springer produce. The Astros need a few wildcards to hit efficiently this year and, hopefully, establish themselves as long-term answers at their respective positions. Perhaps no wildcard is more important than Matt Dominguez.
Domniguez is a 24 year-old former first round pick who, in his fourth season in the big leagues, seems to have finally settled in. Dominguez had a brief cup of coffee with the Marlins in 2011 just after turning 22, but didn’t hit particularly well in limited playing time. During the 2012 season, while Dominguez was back in Triple-A, the Marlins, who had taken Dominguez with the 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft (two picks after Madison Bumgarner and two picks before Jason Heyward), decided to trade Dominguez to the Astros in the deal that brought them Carlos Lee. Since then, Dominguez has shown the Astros bits and pieces of the potential he has to be a proficient big leaguer. In yesterday’s ball game, Dominguez showed that can live up to that potential.
After the Astros split the first two games of their weekend series against the Chicago White Sox, they were hoping to win the rubber match on Sunday to take their second consecutive series, a feat they hadn’t accomplished all season. Thanks to Matt Dominguez, they did just that. In the 8-2 rout of the White Sox, Domniguez belted two two-run homers against starter John Danks to lead his team to victory. In his last nine games, Dominguez is hitting .351 with six multi-hit games. While he hasn’t hit for a high average the entire season (however, it stands at an optimistic .297 for May), Dominguez has shown the Astros hit incredible power. His seven home runs currently place him in the top 20 in the American League and put him on pace for nearly 30. In addition to his power, Dominguez has displayed a more-than-satisfactory ability to field the ball. He has the third highest fielding percentage of any everyday third baseman in the Majors Leagues.
If Dominguez can continue to hit for power and increase his on-base percentage in the final three-quarters of the season, he can be a vital piece to Astros success going forward. While it is important to stay competitive this season, there is next to no hope of the Astros making the postseason. However, with the sense of optimism for the Astros future in the air, Dominguez will need to sustain and improve upon his success if he hopes to man the hot corner on the expectantly-great Houston Astros teams in the near future.