HomeTeamsAstrosCan Jake Meyers Sustain His Offensive Surge At The Plate?

Can Jake Meyers Sustain His Offensive Surge At The Plate?

Ever since Jake Meyers got drafted by the Astros in 2017, he’s shown a lot of potential to become a solid major-league starter. Meyers has always been known for his glove; the question has been if his offense could garner him a starting role with the big-league club. Throughout his short MLB career, he’s had to battle a devastating injury suffered in the 2021 playoffs, as well as questions from the media and fans alike about whether he would be destined to start games in center field for the Astros. This season, Meyers finally looks fully healthy coming off of shoulder surgery two years ago, and looks to prove all his doubters wrong with his performance at the plate and in the field. With fellow outfielder Chas McCormick injured for part of this season, Meyers has stepped up big offensively, enjoying the best start to his career at the plate.

Jake Meyers was drafted by the Astros in the 13th round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Meyers was a pitcher and outfielder in college, and finished his college career as a Third-Team All-American, and was named one of the five finalists for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. In 140 games in college over three seasons, Meyers hit .307 with three homers, 47 RBIs, and 31 steals. He also drew 66 walks and struck out only 57 times.

Meyers spent parts of five season in the minor leagues, slowly making his way up the minor league ladder. He got called up in the middle of the 2021 major-league season, when the Astros traded center fielder Myles Straw to Cleveland in exchange for reliever Phil Maton and then-catching prospect Yainer Diaz. That gave Meyers an opportunity with fellow outfielder Chas McCormick to roam centerfield for the Astros. In 2021, Meyers appeared in 49 games (including 31 starts in center field, three starts in right field, and two starts in left field), hitting .260/.323/.438 with six homers, eight doubles, and 28 RBIs. This included a streak of 19 consecutive starts in the outfield in which he hit .324 with four doubles, three homers, and 16 RBIs. His defense that year was also impressive as he recorded five outs above average (OAA) in the outfield. Statcast defines OAA as “a range-based metric of skill that shows how many outs a player has saved over his peers.” Meyers also had a fielding run value of four.

Then, Meyers got hurt in the second inning of Game 4 of the 2021 ALDS against the Chicago White Sox, as he crashed into the center field wall while trying to make a catch on a home run hit by White Sox designated hitter Gavin Sheets. He had been playing well in the postseason, collecting three hits in eight at-bats with two RBIs, a run scored, and a steal in just over three full games played. Meyers underwent surgery on his shoulder that offseason. He wasn’t expected to be ready to play by opening day 2022.

In 2022, Meyers ended up rejoining the Astros on June 24th, the Astros’ 70th game of the season. From June 24th to Aug. 28th, Meyers appeared in 47 games (with 41 starts) and struggled to find his groove offensively, hitting .209 with six doubles, two triples, one home run, and 14 RBIs. He struck out fifty times and only drew seven walks. His defense was great though, as he recorded seven OAA while manning centerfield. Meyers was optioned to AAA Sugar Land at the beginning of September. In 24 games for Sugar Land, Meyers played well, hitting .337/.451/.544, and launching four home runs. This play earned him a call-up back to the Astros, where he landed on their postseason roster. However, he only started one game in the ALDS against the Seattle Mariners, going 0-for-2 in Game 2.

2023 saw Jake Meyers battle with Chas McCormick for the starting center field job out of spring training. Meyers spent the entire 2023 season on the big-league roster. He appeared in 112 games (87 starts) and hit .227/.296/.382 with 1o homers, 16 doubles, 33 RBIs, 26 walks, and 88 strikeouts. His fielding was excellent that year, as he collected 9 OAA in the outfield, the highest OAA of his career. While he had great numbers in the field and decent numbers at the plate, Meyers was left off of the 2023 postseason roster because of outfielder Michael Brantley’s return to the team following Brantley’s recovery from right shoulder surgery.

Much like Jeremy Peña and Kyle Tucker, Jake Meyers’s successful start to the 2024 campaign has been because he’s hitting the ball harder than ever and hitting the ball on a line more than ever. As of Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, Meyers has a career-high 44.7% hard-hit percentage, a whopping 17% higher than last year. He also has an average exit velocity of 90.4 mph, which is five mph harder than last year. Currently, he has a career-high 30.3% line-drive percentage, which is 9% better than last year. Finally, Meyers is also hitting the ball on the ground less than ever in his career, with a ground ball rate of 32.9%.

By crushing the fastball and handling the breaking ball well, Meyers is hitting a career-best .302 with five homers already (his season high is ten), 18 RBIs, and an astounding OPS+ of 163 (if league average OPS+ is 100). Meyers is fifth on the team with 1.0 WAR (if league average is 0). Meyers is hitting a robust .350 against fastballs, a pitch he sees nearly 50% of the time in his plate appearances. He’s recorded 21 hits in 60 at-bats off the fastball, including three doubles, two triples, and four homers. Meyers has also shown he can handle breaking pitches well, as he’s hitting .250 against those pitches, recording seven hits in 28 at-bats. This is a remarkable improvement from last year, when he hit just .171 against breaking balls (19 hits in 111 at-bats). In his last eight games, Meyers is hitting a robust .429, with two doubles, two home runs, and nine RBIs. He’s recorded four multi-hit games in that span (including three three-hit games).

Jake Meyers has shown he can play elite defense at a major-league level. He’s shown flashes of offensive output (his two three-run homers in one game last year at Yankee Stadium comes immediately to mind), but the question is whether he can put together a full season of consistent offensive production. It appears he’s finally been able to play without limitations from the shoulder injury he suffered a couple of seasons ago. Currently, he’s off to a wonderful start offensively and defensively. Astros fans are rooting for him to continue this production for the rest of the year and beyond.


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