It has only been 155 plate appearances since his call up, but not much about Jon Singleton’s first 38 games in the majors has been impressive. He certainly has power, as evident by the six homers he has hit and the strength he has shown on those homers, but even his ISO of .176 is uninspiring.
The big concern and what has been the big downfall to Singleton’s rookie campaign thus far has been the astronomically high strikeout rate. There was some home that he had readied himself against strikeouts this year, as evident by his lower 21% strikeout rate at triple-A, but a 37% mark is as concerning a number as we could have expected.
Nobody in baseball has a lower zone contact percentage than Singleton, with a minimum of 150 plate appearances. His 68% mark has him behind the likes of George Springer, Brandon Hicks, Mark Reynolds, and B.J. Upton, who all range from his mark to 73%. Making contact on just two thirds of balls in the zone is deeply concerning, possibly even more concerning than the strikeout rate in and of itself.
The good news is that ZiPS and Steamer expect at least close to league average production for the rest of the year from Singleton, which would be a big step up from what we have seen from him to date. As someone who grabbed him on the waiver wire upon his call up, I was expecting and hoping more as I dodged injuries to Brandon Belt and at the time Jose Abreu. At this point, what we are essentially hoping for out of Singleton for the remainder of the year is a Pedro Alvarez-lite, ala Juan Francisco.
To keep on top of the good news is that he has hit lefties pretty darn well so far. He has a 171 wRC+ against southpaws so if he rights himself against righties then he could certainly be as good or better than the projection systems expect. In redraft leagues there is not much reason to hold onto Singleton, but in keeper leagues where you are able to hold onto him at the free agent price he is a guy I am at least holding onto and hoping on.
I like what he has done against lefties, I like that he is going to get every chance to prove he can stick, and I like that the projection systems have a bit of faith in him. What I absolutely don’t like is that Singleton hasn’t looked too much different than a former Astro first baseman that was also once highly touted but saw strikeouts take him off the beat and path in Brett Wallace.
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