Jake Marisnick has compiled 1,038 plate appearances as a big leaguer, and it's rather clear what he is. He has the walk rate and the strikeout rate of an impatient slugger, but he doesn't offer much power, and his average leaves plenty to be desired. What he can do is run and play defense, so that will at least keep him in the big leagues on the short side of a platoon with Josh Reddick (and maybe Norichika Aoki). While Marisnick is split-neutral, he is still not a good hitter. One could say he is a poor man's Rajai Davis, but it would be more accurate to say he is a garbage picker's Rajai Davis. Marisnick can swipe steals even in limited playing time, but he kills fantasy owners everywhere else. There are better speed plays out there, and Marisnick simply is a better asset in reality than fantasy.
Marisnick homered in four at-bats Sunday against the Nationals. Marisnick entered training camp talking about the amount of time he put into reinventing his swing during the offseason, but the light-hitting outfielder is batting just .216 (11-for-51) this spring. It's a good thing his glove is top notch and that he can run the bases, a skill set that makes him a perfect fourth outfielder. He'll back up in left field and center, and we don't see him repeating the 118 games (85 starts) he played last season if all hands remain healthy.
Marisnick went 3-for-3 with a home run and a stolen base in Friday's game against the Mets. Marisnick, who enters 2017 as a career .225 hitter with a .607 OPS, made some changes to his swing over the winter. He'll get some opportunities to exercise his swing while Nori Aoki is away from camp to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is looking like a fourth outfielder to start the season, but if he can improve his bat even a little, Marisnick could gain a greater share of the playing time in left field.
Marisnick put in a lot of work on his swing over the offseason. Marisnick's value defensively and as a baserunner is well known, but the 25-year-old's bat is tough to maintain in the lineup everyday. He batted .209 with five homers, 21 RBI while stealing 10 bases (15 attempts) in 118 games last season. Houston manager A.J. Hinch called it a "work in progress," while Marisnick admitted there's plenty to improve upon. The organization's offseason acquisitions of Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran and Nori Aoki appear to signal a reduced role for Marisnick, who could thrive as a fourth-outfielder / defensive specialist.
Marisnick avoided arbitration with the Astros on Friday with a $1.1 million deal, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reports. Marisnick stumbled a bit in 2016, posting his lowest batting average and on-base percentage since his rookie year, so he'll make essentially back-up money in his first go-around in arbitration. The 25-year-old is currently second on the center field depth chart behind George Springer and shouldn't be thought of as anything more than a bench player barring a massive uptick in contact abilities.
Marisnick is not in the lineup Tuesday against the Rangers. After starting the last four games in center field, Marisnick will get the day off Tuesday as the Astors go up against right-hander A.J. Griffin. Colby Rasmus will get the nod in center, and he'll be flanked by Marwin Gonzalez in left and George Springer in right.