HomeTeamsAstrosJon Singleton’s Long, Winding Road Back To The Astros

Jon Singleton’s Long, Winding Road Back To The Astros

Jon Singleton has attempted to make the most of his second stint with the Houston Astros. First acquired in 2011 in a trade, he joined the big-league club in 2014, where he mashed some home runs, but couldn’t hit for average and struck out too often at the plate. After being out of baseball for a year during the pandemic, and playing in Mexico a year later, Singleton found his way back to the minor leagues, and eventually found his way back to the Astros. Now, with fellow first baseman Jose Abreu working on his swing and timing in West Palm Beach, Singleton has become entrenched as the everyday starter at first base. The question is: can he take advantage of more playing time?

Jon Singleton was drafted out of Robert A. Millikan High School (Long Beach, CA) by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 257th overall pick in the 8th round of the 2009 draft. After spending a couple of years working his way through the Phillies’ minor league system, Singleton was part of the Hunter Pence trade that sent the beloved Houston Astros’ right fielder to Philadelphia. For three more years, Singleton made his way up through the Astros’ minor league organization. But in 2012, he tested positive for smoking marijuana in June. He tested positive again for marijuana use in December of that year, resulting in a 50-game suspension. Despite the suspension, he continued to play well in the minor leagues, earning a spot on the Astros’ then-AAA affiliate team, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, to start the 2014 season.

Then, ahead of Singleton’s call-up to the big league club that season in June, he signed an unprecedented 5-year, $10 million contract with the Astros, before even making his major league debut. Singleton had been hitting .267/.397/.544 with 14 homers for the RedHawks to start the year. In his major league debut, he hit a home run off of Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Matt Shoemaker, but made two errors in the field, as the Astros won 7-2. However, while with the Astros that year, he struggled. In 95 games, he hit. 168/.285/.335 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles, 44 RBIs, 42 runs scored, 50 walks, and 134 strikeouts. This resulted in an OPS+ of 76.

2015 saw Singleton play only a limited time with the Astros. He shuttled back and forth between the majors and minors, only appearing in 19 games for the big-league club that year. After being the team’s primary designated hitter in 2014, Chris Carter became the Astros’ primary first baseman in 2015, leaving Singleton without much room to play. In limited time, Singleton only recorded nine hits (including only three extra-base hits: two doubles and a home run), six RBIs, 10 walks, and 17 strikeouts for a slash line of .191/.328/.298 and an OPS+ of 77.

After Singleton got demoted to the minor leagues for the 2016 season, he remained in the minors until midway through the 2018 season when he got suspended a third time for marijuana use, this time getting suspended for 100 games. Rather than serve the suspension, Singleton requested his release from the Astros, walking away from the game he had played professionally for nine seasons. In a candid interview with the Associated Press after he decided to leave the team, Singleton remarked, “I just didn’t want to play baseball anymore. I knew I had to serve 100 games, and serving 100 games with this organization and the position I was in was not going to be a good thing for me. It was going to take me down a dark road. So, at that point, I just wanted to be done with baseball and kind of get away from everything.”

And for two years, Singleton was done with baseball, until 2020, when right after the pandemic started in April, the Mexican League team, Diablos Rojos del México, signed Singleton to a contract. He didn’t play that year because of the pandemic and was later traded to Guerreros de Oaxaca in the off-season. In May of 2021, Singleton was traded again, this time back to Diablos Rojos del México. While playing in the Mexican League that year, Singleton enjoyed a great year at the plate, hitting .321/.503/.693 with 15 home runs, 36 RBIs, six doubles, and 37 runs scored in 46 games. His best moment of the season came in a July 30th game against the Tigres de Quintana Roo, when he became the first player to hit three home runs at Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium. He finished the game with six RBIs, four runs scored, and two walks.

His stellar performance in the Mexican League intrigued the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization, and they signed Singleton to a minor league contract at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Singleton played the 2022 season for the Brewers’ AAA team, the Nashville Sounds. In 2023, Singleton earned a call-up to the Brewers in June. In 11 games, Singleton recorded just three hits in 29 at-bats, with one extra-base hit, a double, and two RBIs. After the Brewers designated him for assignment on June 17, the Astros signed Singleton to a minor-league deal.

Singleton secured a bench spot late in the 2023 season for the Astros, as they tried to find a reinforcement at the first base position due to the ongoing struggles of Jose Abreu. Singleton had 14 starts in 25 games for the Astros, hitting .194/.301/.323 with two home runs, two doubles, 10 RBIs, 10 walks, and 12 strikeouts. His best game of the season occurred during his second start, when he hit two home runs, drove in five runs, and scored three runs in a 11-3 romp against the Los Angeles Angels at home in Houston. He only appeared in two postseason games, both as a pinch hitter, during the 2023 ALCS against the Texas Rangers. However, his at-bat against Rangers’ closer Jose Leclerc was enormous in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the ALCS with the series tied at two games apiece, and the Rangers leading the Astros 4-2 in the game. After catcher Yanier Diaz pinch hit for shortstop Jeremy Peña and hit a base hit to left field, Singleton pinch hit for catcher Martin Maldonado and worked a walk. That set the stage for second baseman Jose Altuve, as he hit a momentous, go-ahead three-run home-run to left field to give the Astros a 5-4 victory and a 3-2 lead in the ALCS. While the Astros ended up losing the ALCS in seven games, Singleton’s walk was part of a key win for the Astros in that series.

This year, Singleton earned a bench spot out of spring training with the Astros. However, with Jose Abreu scuffling badly at the plate, Singleton became the starting first baseman on April 30th. In 11 starts, Singleton has only hit .194/.302/.528, racking up seven hits in 36 at-bats. However, he has shown some power, as he’s hammered four home runs and knocked in 10 RBIs during this stretch of games. He’s also shown some discipline at the plate, with six walks and only eight strikeouts. Overall, this season, he’s hitting .218/.311/.397 with an OPS+ of 105, an OPS+ just above league average.

As Singleton has hit all of his homers and accounted for all of his RBIs in his past 11 starts, it appears that playing every day has helped him reconnect with his power swing. While Jose Abreu remains at West Palm Beach working on his swing, it remains to be seen what will happen when Abreu rejoins the Astros. Will the team role out a platoon situation, where the left-handed hitting Singleton hits against righties and the right-handed hitting Abreu hits against lefties? Or will Singleton move back to a supporting role off the bench? Regardless, Singleton plans to continue to be a factor in the Astros’ offense, whether he plays full-time or off the bench.


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