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This Astros Team is Better Than April – Is It Better Than 2013?


The May Renaissance of the Astros (funny how a .500 record is a Renaissance) brings to mind many questions. Is this the real Astros or was April the real Astros? Is this team really better than the 2013 skunk-fest? Is Bopert on suicide watch as the Astros actually improve? Why did the Sopranos finale end in such an open ended way?

I’m not sure I can answer any of the questions completely – but I did want to dig into some of the stats and talk about what I think they mean. Note – all numbers are through the 3-0 shutout on Tuesday night.

2013 vs. 2014 (so far)

Fielding – The Astros have only recorded 30 errors so far this season which is 6th best in the AL. At this pace they would commit 92 errors on the season which is far less than the AL worst 125 errors they put up in 2013. In fielding % they were last in 2013 (.979) while this season they are tied for 4th (.985). In 2013 they gave up 82 unearned runs – more than 1/2 a run per game. This season they have given up 18 unearned runs which would equate to 55 runs over a whole season. On top of this the defense definitely meets the eye test. They are covering so much more ground out there and it shows.

Hitting – At first glance the hitting is just slightly better in 2014 than in 2013. BA down from .240 to .238, while OBP/ SLG / OPS which were 15th/last in the league in 2014 (.299 / .375 / .674) are now a bit improved (.308 – 13th / .387 – 10th / .695 – 11th).  The Astros actually scored slightly more runs / game in 2013 than they have so far in 2014 (3.77 vs. 3.72).  But if we look at what has happened in May…. well we will look at that a little farther down.

Starting Pitching – The starters have been dramatically better – overall in 2014 than in 2013. ERA has gone from 4.72 (13th) to 3.96 (7th), WHIP from 1.47 (14th) to 1.30 (6th), OPS against from .778 (13th) to .699 (4th) and they have the best ground ball out ratio by far at 1.40 in the league.

Relief Pitching – The bullpen is still lagging last season’s pen – but not by much and frankly considering the bullpen ERA was over 6 at one point – it is coming on strong lately. It was last in most important categories in 2014 and it is again in 2013 – but changes they have been a-coming here in the last month.

April Showers Bring May Flowers???

There are some players that have fallen off in May – Jonathan Villar has fallen off the map, Castro has been struggling, Feldman has slowed down from an unsustainable pace as has Collin McHugh (but you have to love those starts going to him over, say, Lucas Harrell) and Matt Dominguez has almost identical numbers in April as in May. But when you look at what is driving the latest insurgency – here are the players behind it.

Chad QuallsQualls struggled through April (5.40 ERA / 2.160 WHIP / .967 OPS against) but has been tough as nails in May (0.00 ERA / .429 WHIP / .310 OPS against).

Tony Sipp – Was not here in April, but ever since being picked up as a freebie – all he has done is put up a 0.00 ERA while allowing only one walk and one hit in 9.2 innings.

Dallas Keuchel – Did a solid job in April (3.56 ERA / 1.286 WHIP) – but nothing like May (1.79 ERA / 0.744 WHIP). Most significantly he averaged 6 innings per start in April and a great 8 innings per start in May.

Jarred CosartHe still struggles with Bud Norris disease (too many pitches to pitch deep into games) but his results have been towards improvement. His ERA was 5.52 in April and 2.96 in May – but the most important stat for him was going from 5 HR in April to 0 in May.  Note – this does not include today’s game.

Josh FieldsCheating a little here – I will compare the Josh Fields before being sent down on May 6th (12.00 ERA / 2.08 WHIP) and the Josh Fields after his May 17th call-up (0.00 ERA / 0.500 WHIP). As they would say… that would be better.

George SpringerOK – hid him down here to make you read a bit – but the guy has been insanely good in May (.322 BA / .404 OBP / 1.071 OPS – 8 HR and 21 RBI) after being an over-swinging rookie in April (.182 BA / .262 OBP / .480 OPS with 0 HR and 4 RBI).  The kid is the real deal and the whole team seems to be feeding off it.

Jose AltuveIn April – Altuve (.276 BA / .325 OBP / .696 OPS) looked like he was repeating the mediocrity of 2013. In May he has looked like the guy who came up from AA not that long ago (.367 BA / .402 OBP / .906 OPS). I’m guessing he is loving seeing George Springer on the lineup card right below his name.

Dexter FowlerApril (.231 BA .307 OBP / .670 OPS) was making us wish to cancel the trade that sent Jordan Lyles to the Rockies. May (.300 BA / .447 OBP / .825 OPS) has been much more palatable to our tastes.

Marwin Gonzalez / Chris Carter / Marc KraussThough none of them are playing everyday – all three of these guys have put up decent OPS’s in May. Carter – .754, Krauss – .716 and Gonzalez – .780.

Summary

The Astros are not nearly as putrid as April and probably not (yet) as mediocre as May. If I were a betting man – I would say they are closer to the May version of the team. I do believe they are significantly better than 2013.  The most significant thing that May has brought them is the knowledge that they can avoid an extended losing streak and that there is talent lurking on this team that was either struggling in April or playing elsewhere.

 

 

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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

53 comments on “This Astros Team is Better Than April – Is It Better Than 2013?

  1. Astro45
    May 29, 2014

    Interesting piece, Dan. My take was this was a better team than 2013, even in April. That is to say better than 117 losses. But I believe Tony D had them 15-15 +/- in Sept 2012. And last year about this time, they won 6 in a row. However, still believe they are improved. At the same time, baseball is such a fickle game. Remember when everyone was cheering “the plan” because it looked just like Tampa Bay. They are back now competing for the 1st pick with the Cubs, Astros, and ?? Red Sox??

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Hey I’ll take the Rays 6 winning seasons in a row – 4 playoff appearances – a WS appearance – and I think they are more likely to dig back to .500 than get the overall 1st pick. The Red Sox were last place two years ago. The Giants have won 2 of the last 5 WS but also had 2 losing records in that time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Astro45
        May 29, 2014

        You did see the word “fickle” in my comment, right?

        Like

      • Dan P
        May 29, 2014

        Yeah – but I don’t we should judge Tampa’s plan based on two months or even a season of anomaly.

        Like

    • Devin
      May 29, 2014

      I’m not sure that is a fair comparison. The Rays have actively moved starting players for cheaper pieces. The Astros have not yet reached that part, which is actually in the bopert blueprint rather than the Luhnow plan. Still, the Rays have a solid team even after being hit hard by injuries. They are 9 games behind NYY, but have also lost six games by 1 run and two more in extra innings where the floodgates opened. The point is, they have been competitive. Now, once they sell David Price we will have to reevaluate them based on the returns, but contending in 2015 doesn’t sound unreasonable.

      Like

      • Dan P
        May 29, 2014

        They have come from behind before in a season or they may just have to have a regrouping season.

        Like

  2. kevin
    May 29, 2014

    Strom has done an amazing job with the pitching staff with a lot of B players. amazing compared to the last couple years. Also it has really helped to keep the line up some what consistent, its building a comfort and confident top 3 for sure. Just think another year maybe we get 1B, SS,3B, and LF upgrades, a lot of pitching on the farm Yikes awesome.

    Like

    • daveb
      May 29, 2014

      Who is your upgrade at third?

      Like

      • kevin
        May 29, 2014

        Hopefully Duffy or Ruiz, Domingo to me is just an avg dude- Good glove way to inconsistent with the stick, 1 week awesome the next 2 weeks looks totally lost. It could even be Correra if he keeps getting Bigger.

        Like

      • Dan P
        May 29, 2014

        Interesting – I think the point is there is no upgrade this season or maybe the next few and Dominguez is a decent caretaker for the time being.

        Like

      • daveb
        May 29, 2014

        Kevin, interesting that Duffy has just been sent to OKC, at least for last nights game. Looking at his splits though, he really has not hit right handed pitching enough, even at CC, to take the job from Dominguez. And defensively, he’s far inferior. Ruiz, he might have a shot, but he’s a couple of year away, at least. Correa could well end up being the third baseman of the future, but if he makes it up here next year, he’ll be playing short, and I would assume he’ll be there for awhile before there is any thought of moving him over. In the meantime, Dominguez, looking at his stats from the break last year, up until today, he’s better than league average for third basemen at the plate, and he’s better than most defensively. He’s a strength on this improving club.

        Like

      • kevin
        May 29, 2014

        Maybe I didn’t communicate it that well. I don’t hate Domingo, hes OK,for now I wasn’t exactly um thinking Duffy or Ruiz for 2014. I just don’t think long term Domingo is going to be any more that he is today. I think what you see is his upside -peak. If I’m wrong awesome.

        Like

      • daveb
        May 29, 2014

        One thing to keep in mind is that Duffy is already 25. And I still expect quite a bit of growth out of a sharp kid like Dominguez. Most guys don’t peak at 24, do they?

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 29, 2014

        Dominguez on a team with Springer, Singleton and a decent DH and Left fielder is just fine. You know, when CJ was on our Hot Corner, he wasn’t great defensively or offensively. Fast forward and he has been better offensively. I am so willing to let Matty D have that spot with his defense until someone pushes him out, especially since he is still very young.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        May 29, 2014

        Old pro – Dominguez really brings a calmness to the infield defense – he is just so smooth.

        Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Two good points – Feldman, McHugh, and Keuchel are all exceeding previous performances. I would be interested if Strom had Sipp make any adjustments when he showed up.
      ,

      Like

  3. Devin
    May 29, 2014

    Dan, a big difference you don’t mention is the eyeball test. The May club is loose and having fun. I think it started when Springer chopped the walk off single over the Seager a couple weeks back. The April club was moping about like someone stole their scooters.

    Like

    • daveb
      May 29, 2014

      No doubt Springer has had a significant impact. He’s brought a hustling positive vibe. You can see it in the dugout. Shame we had to wait so long. Springer has helped the club see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. After just a handful of major league games under his belt, he seems to be accepting a the leadership role so sorely lacking with this group, if only by his performance.

      I’m convinced this is a better team because I have to assume we’ll see some additional help from OKC by the break in the form of a first baseman, and if Grossman does not produce, we’ll see Austin Wates in left.

      But I also think that while Altuve is a .300 hitter, he’s not a .320 guy with a .900 OPS. Marvin Gonzalez will correct down as he always has. But Castro and Carter have to get better, don’t they?

      I still think there will be a correction in both Feldman’s and McHugh’s stats, but then again, we should see new arms from OKC at some point this year, and an improving pen as guys gets healthier. I don’t see big losing streaks because we’ve got a couple of starters capable of going out and shutting down a club.

      So the roller coaster ride will continue, but with fewer bumps.

      Like

      • Dan P
        May 29, 2014

        True – I think this team would never have a 15 game losing streak – it just would not happen.

        Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Great point – they are not playing tight – they appear to behaving fun and Porter is not making dark discipline comments to the press.

      Like

  4. drbill14
    May 29, 2014

    All things considered this is a much better team than April and much better than 2013. Only mentioned in passing is the improved coaching staff (Porter not included). I think Strom and Listach have both had major impacts on their areas of expertise. What’s exciting is that there is still a lot of room for improvement and the parts that ought to bring about that improvement are not that far away. Santana, Wates and Deshields would all upgrade LF. I think Stassi will upgrade catcher. Crain and Albers should upgrade the BP which is looking a lot better lately anyway. I like that Sipp is not a mere LOOGY and apparently neither is Downs to a lesser degree. Qualls is growing into a good closer. When Crain returns he might be best cast into the set up role that he was so successful at in Chicago. Despite his good game yesterday Carter is a placeholder. I’m still not all that impressed with his power production as it seems to only show up in inconsequential circumstances.

    I do expect the lineup to evolve a bit more. Ultimately I think it will be better to flip Fowler and Springer but for right now if its not broken don’t fix it. Fowler-Altuve-Springer seems like the natural fit. Cleanup is still a bit of a sore spot but for now I would leave Dominguez there simply because his BA with RISP and K rate is so much better than Castro. Singleton would fit nicely in the fifth spot.

    Finally, it appears we aren’t looking so much at retreads to fill holes although I suppose you could call both Sipp and Farnsworth that. Looks like we can at least see the dawn and its pretty exciting.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      There is a lot more excitement involved with the team. For the first time in a long time the Astros have a must see batter in Springer.
      Even if I am busy I will check in to see him bat – because he is doing pretty amazing stuff every day.

      Like

    • Devin
      May 29, 2014

      Interesting idea to flip Springer and Fowler defensively. I wonder if it actually makes sense to leave them as is because of the dimensions of MMP. Fowler seems plenty fast to track down fly balls in CF. However, the short porch in RF gives more theoretical opportunities to cut down runners with a stronger throwing arm, right?

      Like

      • drbill14
        May 29, 2014

        Devin: I was really only thinking of batting order, not defensive alignment although Springer does seem to be the ultimate CF with Santana eventually going to RF. Fowler in left, Springer in center and Santana in right would suit me fine.

        Like

      • Dan P
        May 29, 2014

        I would love to have Fowler Springer Santana or Wates in the OF very soon.

        Like

      • daveb
        May 29, 2014

        Well, if we get Wates, he’ll go to left. That’s much more likely than Santana, but if we do get Santana, I think he goes to right and Fowler goes to left. Just based on age alone, Santana will probably have to wait…..unless of course Luhnow starts moving guys like Fowler and maybe Castro. I sure do hope that Fowler sticks around though, at least until the deadline next year, as this team is just starting to stabilize.

        Like

  5. Flash
    May 29, 2014

    High ground ball rate + improved defense = more winning.

    Like

    • daveb
      May 29, 2014

      A rare flash from Flash!

      Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Yo Flash good to hear from you. The GO/AO ratio is really amazing. Going into yesterday’s game it was 1.40 while the next best in the AL was 1.16.
      Strom has them keeping that ball down and the best of them are keeping it on the black of the plate.

      Like

  6. 1oldpro
    May 29, 2014

    The moment Springer stopped spinning his wheels, this team perked up and others started picking their game up. I really doubt that the Astros will be as bad in any month as they were in April for the rest of this year. They seem to have found traction.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Like that term – found traction.
      Actually when Springer stopped trying to corkscrew himself into the ground and unsuccessfully hit 600 ft homers – he has been popping out those 400 ft jobs.

      Like

  7. Becky
    May 29, 2014

    If we could only see Singelton come up while on this home stand……..would be *awesome*!! THAT would put another BIG charge!

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      I sure would love that – because the next thing happening will be the teams pitching around Springer and I’d love to have that big guy batting behind him.

      Like

  8. rj
    May 29, 2014

    yes we are better than 2013. yes we are better now than in april. and yes we will be better later in the season than we are now. a big wooohooo to that. becky i am glad your grandson is doing better and got to come home, bless his heart. and as far as the sopranos, im still mad about that….

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Hey rj – how are you doing? Unless I’m getting confused we added you to the prayer list for a health issue.
      This is the first time in 3 years that I thought I was seeing real progress at the major league level.

      Like

  9. 1oldpro
    May 29, 2014

    I sure wish Villar and Castro could get hot with the bat. But both have improved dramatically on defense so I guess we can’t have everything. That is until Correa is ready. Then we might be able to have our cake and eat it, too.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      oldpro – hopefully Villar and Castro will heat up when Springer and Altuve inevitably cool down a bit.

      Like

  10. rj
    May 29, 2014

    hey dan, im doing well. a few weeks till everything wakes back up, but all going well, thanks very much for asking and thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers. i know ive been the irritating optimist, but i do think we are beginning to see true improvement.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      I think there are a number of us that are probably a little over the top on the optimistic side. That is why we are called fanatics – right?

      Like

  11. rj
    May 29, 2014

    lol yes sir

    Like

  12. Becky
    May 29, 2014

    rj…….did I miss something about your health? If so………I’m sorry, ’cause I have a ton of prayer warrios out there! Tanner has a long road ahead of him, but he continues to get better. Thank you for your prayers…….God id INDEED good.

    Like

  13. rj
    May 29, 2014

    yeah becky i had a tumor in my salivary gland removed. not a big deal just takes a few weeks to get back to normal. glad Tanner is doing better. kids are really resilient so i predict a good and full recovery for him.

    Like

  14. Dan P
    May 29, 2014

    Prayers all around for the chipalatta blog family….

    Like

  15. rj
    May 29, 2014

    dan do you know the date when super two passes this year? im wondering if that has a part in singleton getting called up.

    Like

  16. rj
    May 29, 2014

    its a complicated formula, im thinking its mid june or so.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Yes – I’ve read it a couple times and I’m still slightly confused because it really does not tie to a date directly – it applies to players that have more than two but less than 3 seasons in the majors and rank in the top 22% (used to be 17%) in service time for those with 2 years – basically it sounds like it clicks in around the end of June generally.

      If anyone else understands it better – please be my guess.

      Like

  17. Becky
    May 29, 2014

    I don’t give a da** about the the super two status……….if Luhnow wants to make
    a big splash……….bring Singelton up. *Who* is blocking him?? It’s stuff like this that makes us scream at the computer…….knock, knock..knocking at the door.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Totally agree Becky – it is time to get the best 25 up here and get them some experience. If Springer had come up last September – maybe his April start in the majors would be more like May has been.
      Oh well….

      Like

  18. Dan P
    May 29, 2014

    Wowie – Good pitching and Springer launches another one late – Astros 3 O’s 1 – six in a row.

    Like

  19. drbill14
    May 29, 2014

    My wife just asked me how one player can make such a difference. Every successful team has to have role players but you also have to have stars that make everyone else better. Altuve is a hitting and running machine but you also need guys who can pop the ball out of the ball park when it matters. Springer is that guy. His ten homers have had more impact in a month than Carter’s 38 in a season and a quarter. It is fun to win but its also a lot more fun to win while playing well. And how about Fields getting a chance in a high leverage situation and throwing 15 strikes and only 3 balls for two dominant innings?

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Yes – Springer is having a high impact on this team – like you said – he is hitting them when they matter.

      Like

  20. Becky
    May 29, 2014

    A tribute to Jose Lima……….”IT’S SPRINGER TIME”, of course you have to imagine
    Lima saying that in his funny Spanglish dialect!!! MAN, is this fun or WHAT??!!!!

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 29, 2014

      Nice one Becky!

      Like

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This entry was posted on May 29, 2014 by in Astros.
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