Thursday, November 21, 2013

Exit Music (For A Player): Matt Dominguez

We're taking a look at the Astros who are still on the 40-Man Roster as part of our off-season Exit Music (For A Player) recap of 2013. Read the archive here. Today we take on Matt Dominguez.

Acquired:Acquired from Miami on July 4, 2012 with Rob Rasmussen for Carlos Lee 

152 games played, 589 PAs, .241/.286/.403, 89 OPS+
Baseball-Reference WAR: 2.2
FanGraphs WAR: 1.0
Walk Percentage: 5.1%
Strikeout Percentage: 16.3%
2013 Salary: $491,800

I still can't believe that the Astros got a 24-year old ML starter for Carlos Lee. That was the best 4th of July since 1776. In 31 games for the Astros in 2012 after the trade, Dominguez hit .284/.310/.477, which was an impressive enough debut to give him the 3B1 spot for 2013. He started off slow, hitting .227/.257/.383 in the 1st Half of the season, but rallied in the 2nd Half for a .260/.323/.430 slash line, and that's after finishing the season in a 2x17 slump. 

Dominguez was always known as a defense-first player, with the hope that his bat would be at least mildly productive enough to keep him in the lineup. In 149 games at 3B, Dominguez made seven fielding errors and nine throwing errors, so if I take off my shoes I can see that his 16 errors were tied for the most among AL 3Bs, and tied for 5th-most in the AL in general. He also played in the 4th-most games at 3B in the AL, so there's some compiling there. 

Basically, Dominguez was pretty consistent: Low BABIP (.254) combining with a very low walk rate, with a side of occasional power. It took him until May 11 (129 PAs) to hit his first home run, and then he hit another one right after that (both off of Yu Darvish). So if we take his HR/PA rate from the time he hit his first of the season, he hit one HR for every 22 PAs, and that's including the fact that he hit two HRs in his last 117 PAs. Eleven of his 21 homers for the season had a true distance over 400'.

High-Water Mark:
August 13 @ Los Angeles. Dominguez goes 4x5 with two runs and a tie-breaking three-run homer in the 7th to help the Astros to a 7-5 win over the Angels.

What Went Well:
*That second half of the season. His BABIP increased from .235 to .280, and as a result, he hit .260/.323/.430 with 20 extra-base hits in 260 plate appearances. There was a stretch from July 30-August 31 (31 games) where Dominguez's BABIP was a more-normal .297, and he hit .280/.328/.475.
*Hitting fastballs. Dominguez figured out how to hit a fastball in 2013, getting a 10.0 wFA rating from FanGraphs' Pitch f/x, and a nice improvement over 2012 (0.6).

What Didn't:
*Dominguez only saw limited action in 2012 (31 games / 113 PAs), but he was able to hit RHP to the tune of .294/.318/.506 in 88 PAs. In 2013, his slash line against Righties dropped to .244/.291/.423.
*If a pitcher can throw a cutter, they should throw it to Dominguez, whose Pitch f/x rating was -11.5 against the pitch (-4.7 against the slider).
*Patience. As usual, Dominguez has very little. His 3.5% walk rate in limited time in 2012 rose in 2013...but only slightly, to 5.1%. Out of 104 batters with a minimum of 550 PAs, Dominguez had the 14th-worst walk rate (13th-worst was Jose Altuve).

Did You Know?
*Astros hitting coach John Mallee was the Marlins' minor-league hitting coordinator in 2010. Dominguez hit .252 with 14 HR, earning Southern League Mid-Season and Post-Season All Star honors.
*Dominguez was high school teammates with Mike Moustakas, who was drafted 2nd overall - and ten spots ahead of Dominguez - in the 2007 draft.

2014 contract: Pre-Arbitration, will be Arbitration-eligible in 2016.
2014 outlook: Unless the Astros make an unexpected trade in the next few months, Dominguez has the 3B job locked up. He shows flashes of pop, and plays pretty good defense (even if the Defensive ratings don't exactly reflect that). If he can draw a walk more than once every two weeks and if he can luck into an increased BABIP, things should work out pretty well for him. Problem is, he doesn't have a track record of doing much of either.