At 14-27 at the quarter turn, Houston is off to a bad start. At this pace, the Astros will win 54 games. Is that the improvement you were hoping for? Yeah, me neither.
But there are a few good signs. So with the second quarter of the season beginning, here are a few silver linings in this gloomy cloud of a season.
The Good Version
2013 was not a great season for Jose Altuve. His low .678 OPS came courtesy not of a bad batting average but his inability to draw a walk and a lack of just about any power brought down his productivity. Combine that with getting run over by Jimmy Paredes and the death of his grandmother, and it was a tough game for the little man.
This season, however, has been a turn around for Altuve. His OPS is .763 (after Game 41), he is a doubles machine, and his 14 walks are almost half way to the 32 he took last season.
Just across second base is Jonathan Villar, who came up last year with all the tools and none of the concentration. His OPS is up from .640 to .703. A big part of that is his power surge. He’s already got five homers, seven doubles and a pair of triples compared to one homer, nine doubles and two triples in about 80 percent more at bats.
Even better, his defense has been so much better. Range factor. Excellent. But that was always the case. The difference has been the decisions. He makes good ones.
While he’s at eight starts compared to 22 last year, Dallas Keuchel is on fire compared to 2013. His ERA is 2 full runs lower than last year in one third the innings. His batting average against is down, his WHIP is down and his ground ball rate is up. I think it’s safe to say his 2014 is looking up.
One Man’s Trash …
In addition to our returning bright spots, we’ve picked up a few castaways from other organizations that have, thus far, been gems.
In four games and 5.2 innings, Tony Sipp has not allowed a run. Heck, he hasn’t allowed a hit. And of those 17 outs he’s recorded, 10 have come courtesy of the K.
Speaking of four games … Colin McHugh has been mostly amazing. He is sporting a sub-3.00 ERA, a WHIP a hair above 1.00 and a batting average against just over the Mendoza line at .211.
There are other examples of silver linings. Anthony Bass–trip to the DL notwithstanding–has been a bright spot in the bullpen. Marwin Gonzalez has been the best super sub we’ve had in a while. Matt Dominguez is coming around.
So, maybe I’m just a little overly optimistic, especially for a team that’s 13-27.