HomeTeamsAstrosMauricio Dubón’s Value For The Astros Goes Beyond The Box Score

Mauricio Dubón’s Value For The Astros Goes Beyond The Box Score

Mauricio Dubón is the Houston Astros’ Swiss army knife. He’s already played every position besides pitcher and catcher this season. He hits consistently for average, and hardly strikes out. He’s been one of the most dependable hitters with runners in scoring position this season. And he captured some hardware last year, as he won the Gold Glove for utility players.

Like utility players Ben Zobrist and Marwin Gonzalez before him, Dubón has played all over the field since he was acquired by trade from the San Francisco Giants in the middle of the 2022 season.  Last year, he got pushed into playing second base for the first month and a half of the season because regular second baseman Jose Altuve got injured while playing for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Dubón played admirably while Altuve recovered from his injury, as he hit .309/.333/.389 with ten doubles, one triple, eight RBIs, and 27 runs scored. Defensively, he only made two errors during this stretch of games. In 79 games played at second base last year, he finished with a .978 fielding percentage. Dubón finished the season ninth on the Astros in WAR (at 2.7), just behind Altuve’s 2.8. Dubón started at five positions last year (second base, shortstop, centerfield, left field, and first base). Though it remains to be said, that without Dubón’s play during the first couple of months of the season, the Astros likely don’t make the playoffs.

Speaking of the 2023 playoffs, Dubón played a big role in those as well, starting in centerfield five times during the Astros’ seven-game loss to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. While Dubón only appeared in a handful of games in the ALDS, he collected six hits in twenty at-bats, good for a .300 average, in the ALCS. He knocked in two runs and scored three runs while playing solid defense in centerfield.

This season, Dubón has been a jack-of-all-trades, having already appeared at every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher. Entering Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals (which he started at third base because Alex Bregman being a late scratch from the lineup due to a minor injury), Dubón already has racked up 0.7 WAR (with 0 WAR being what an average, replacement-level player would bring to the team). His slash line is a solid .319/.336/.442; he’s collected 36 hits, 20 RBIs, and 15 runs scored, while only walloping two home runs. Though Dubón isn’t needed on the Astros for his power, he’s needed for his bat-to-ball skills and defensive versatility.

Dubón has seen himself hitting ninth in the batting order in recent games, though that’s not a knock on his talent. It’s because Astros’ manager Joe Espada sees Dubón as another table-setter, a guy who can get on base, so the likes of Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, and Yordan Alvarez can drive him in. And Dubón has gotten on-base at a solid .336 clip this season, primarily due to his contact ability. According to Baseball Savant, Dubón ranks in the 86th percentile in whiff percentage (17.2%). He also doesn’t walk a whole ton; he only has five walks in 49 games played for the Astros this year, and only walked 19 times in 132 games played last year. However, he hardly strikes out either. According to Baseball Savant, Dubón ranks in the 100th percentile in strikeout percentage (7.0%) this season. Last year, Dubón struck out only 70 times. This year, he’s only struck out ten times so far. Case in point: Yordan Alvarez has already struck out three times in a game three times this year.

While Dubón has been good at getting on base this year, he’s been even better collecting hits and RBIs with runners in scoring position. He’s collected 13 hits in 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position this year, good for a .406 batting average. He’s hit three doubles and a home run, and has knocked in 18 runs with runners in scoring position, which is third on the team. In contrast, he’s only collected 19 hits in 78 at-bats with the bases empty this year, good for a .244 batting average.

While these last weeks of games have made it seem like the Astros rank last in hitting with runners in scoring position, they are actually in the middle of the pack. They rank 15th in the majors in batting average at .254. They’re 15th in RBIs with 82, 10th in hits with 131, and 13th in doubles with 27. However, they rank well in home runs and strikeouts with runners in scoring position. The Astros are tied for 8th with 17 home runs, and are a wonderful 28th in strikeouts, with only 101. However, the Astros need to do better driving the ball with runners in scoring position, as only 34% of their hits in these situations have been for extra bases.

Mauricio Dubón’s value for the Astros goes well beyond the box score at the end of each game. Having a position player that can play seven positions is incredibly valuable. Having a hitter who only strikes out once every 14.6 at-bats this year is valuable as well. But having a player who can hit over .400 with runners in scoring position might bring out the most value out of Dubón this year. So far, he’s been worth all that and more to the Astros this season.


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