, Port Arthur, Texas


July 9, 2013

On the Astros: Matt Dominguez a great example of this year's Astros

Randomness seems inherent to the universe, doesn’t it? Random occurrences, random meetings, random texts at 2 a.m. inspiring a whole website.

What do we do with all that randomness? We search for patterns. Everything can’t be random, there has to be some meaning, some purpose to the noise. In sports, that involves trying to find examples. We’re either comparing teams of the present to teams of the past (would the ’13 Heat beat the ’57 Celtics?) or comparing players to past greats (who’s the next Michael Jordan?).

Those comparisons are fun and they start arguments, but only occasionally are they useful. In some very rare cases, they lead us to some greater nugget of truth about a team or a player. In some cases, it’s both.

That’s exactly the case with Matt Dominguez and the Houston Astros. Dominguez is the perfect poster-boy for this year’s Houston baseball team for many reasons, but those reasons are intrinsically linked to truths about the team itself. Through Dominguez, we can see this Astros team more clearly.

What’s so special about Matt Dominguez?

First of all, he’s young. Of the 30 starting third basemen in the major league, only one is younger than the 23-year old Dominguez (Baltimore’s 21-year old Manny Machado). In fact, only two more are within two years of Dominguez (Seattle’s Kyle Seager and KC’s Mike Moustakas).

Being young means Dominguez has plenty of room to grow. It means his struggles this season can be written off as growing pains, the things he needs to do so he can improve as a player. He won’t be hitting the prime of his career for another four or five years, so the Astros can afford to be patient with him.

In fact, the Astros are fielding one of the youngest teams in the franchise’s history. Only nine other teams in the last 50 years in Houston have been younger and it’s been over 20 years since the combined roster was younger than the current average of 26.6 years.

That means this entire roster is about experimenting and patience, seeing who sticks and who doesn’t. That’s what happened with Houston’s All-Star catcher Jason Castro. With Castro two years removed from a catastrophic knee injury, the Astros didn’t have to put their faith in him as the starting catcher in 2013, but they did.

He rewarded that faith by becoming the best hitter on the team. Not all the players on this roster have taken that leap. There have been plenty of struggles. But, that’s what ties it together with Dominguez yet again.

Dominguez is not a perfect player. He’s got plenty of flaws, like not walking ever and not typically making contact, either.  Of the 122 players in the majors this season to collect more than 300 plate appearances, only seven have OPS (on-base plus slugging) lower than Dominguez’ .636.

Similarly, this entire Astros team has struggled offensively. They’ve flirted with getting no-hit multiple times, have gone through players in the outfield like they’re riding a merry-go-round and, of course, they’ve struck out.

Lord, have they struck out.

Guys like Rick Ankiel aren’t around to hold them back, as Houston tinkers with the edges of its roster, with the older players to try and find some consistency. Through it all, guys like Dominguez and Jose Altuve have been there.

Though he has a sterling defensive reputation, Dominguez has also been fairly inconsistent at third base. He’s given up some bad errors and had his first baseman hurt him on a few more. The advanced defensive numbers on him don’t look great, but that’s also a product of the defensive metrics sort of misunderstanding him.

See, the primary defensive stat that gets used for FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement calculation is Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). That statistic breaks down the field into zones and then charts every play to determine which fielder should have gotten to a ball and which fielder did.

Unfortunately, UZR throws out any plays with extreme infield shifts. Houston has used extreme shifts a lot, so Dominguez has been hurt by having those plays not count on his permanent record. In a way, he’s being misunderstood by the metrics.

This Astros team is the same way. It’s misunderstood as one of the worst in baseball. I mean, they are. But they’re not historically bad. They’re just young, imperfect and learning on the fly. Instead of having some veteran presences to break their fall, these Astros are playing without a net.

Most nights, they’re falling on their faces. Some nights, like their thrilling nationally-televised victory over the Rangers last Saturday, they’re soaring pretty high.

But, even at the end of this season, Matt Dominguez and this Houston roster will be incomplete. Dominguez needs to work on his plate discipline if he wants to continue to be part of this team, but for now, he’s the epitome of what the 2013 have been.

David Coleman is a sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at or found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.


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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

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    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

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    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

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    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

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  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

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  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

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From the Fieldhouse blog