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Chas McCormick on Houston Astros starting CF role: 'My job to lose'

Chron logo Chron 2/7/2023 michael shapiro
© Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The Houston Astros are still nearly two months from Opening Day of their 2023 campaign, but one member of last year's championship team appears notably ready to kick off their World Series title defense. 

Astros center fielder Chas McCormick discussed his preparation for the upcoming season during an appearance at the Tristar Houston Collector's Show over the weekend, noting he believes the starting role is "my job to lose."

"I'm really excited, I'm ready to go. I've been working my butt off this season," McCormick told FOX 26's Mark Berman. "Center field is my job to lose, but you know, again, I got to go into Spring Training like I'm fighting for a spot. This team's really good and I got to keep working hard."

McCormick, 27, has played in 227 games for Houston across the last two seasons, logging 407 plate appearances in 2022. He earned starts in 99 of his 119 appearances last year, and in the 2022 postseason, McCormick started all 12 of Houston's games. McCormick said Sunday being atop the depth chart in center field as of early February is "an honor."

"It's an honor. Dusty [Baker] gave me the spot last year at the end of the year," McCormick said. "I can't really thank him enough, but again, every year is different, so personally I just got to control what I can control. Dusty is going to make the lineup and I'm just going to produce." 

A potential upgrade in center field has been a noted point of discussion in Houston since George Springer's departure after the 2020 season. But while McCormick might not sport the upside of a future All-Star, he should serve as at least a passable bottom-third option on Baker's lineup card in 2023. McCormick's OPS+ was 10 percent better than league average last season, and he's smacked 46 career extra-base hits in just over a season's worth of at-bats.

More important, however, is the assurance Baker receives by placing McCormick in center field at Minute Maid Park. McCormick ranked in the 93rd percentile last season in Statcast's Outs Above Average metric, and he made a crucial catch at the wall in Philadelphia to preserve a 2-1 lead in Game 5 of the World Series. McCormick pairs a solid-if-unspectacular bat with an impressive glove. His emergence has in part allowed the Astros to devote their resources to other areas of improvement, notably the addition of first baseman Josè Abreu in November.

Houston's pitchers and catchers will report to the team's Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 16. McCormick and the team's collection of position players are slated to arrive on Feb. 21, four days before the Spring Training opener against Justin Verlander and the Mets


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