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A quarter of way into season, Astros are the best in the AL


The quarter pole of a baseball season is always a good time to do a check up on a major league team. Dan looked at some of the pros and cons from players thus far last week, but it clearly is time to drop the “it’s too early” mantra from the conversation.

After 41 of 162 games, the Astros are 27-14 and have been in first place for 36 days this season. Back on May 4, Houston had a seven-game lead, its biggest of the year thus far. Oakland is already 13 1/2 games back and considering selling early.

Frankly, the Astros have set so many firsts or bests thus far, it’s just too many to list here. Something “new” has happened virtually every day over the last few weeks. Best start since, most this or least that. Attendance is up, the minor leagues are producing major league talent and Houston is doing all the winning without one of its key off-season acquisitions (shortstop Jed Lowrie), weak hitting from three key players (Chris Carter, Evan Gattis and George Springer) and a revolving door in the #5 spot in the rotation.

Dallas Keuchel is the best pitcher in the American League, Jose Altuve is still Jose Altuve and Jeff Luhnow has been behind the scenes since spring training. Exactly where he should be. And how ’bout A.J. Hinch. Not a word. Not a peep. Managing from strength and continually running out a successful lineup (39 different lineup cards in 41 games) despite injuries, poor performance (3 regulars hitting below .200), and other players being away from the club.

So, just how good are the Astros? Can they carry this winning deep into the summer? Will Gattis, Carter and Springer ever top .200? And when will Carlos Correa hit the scene?

All are good questions, but take the day to just bask in the success story of the first fourth of the season that has been the Houston Astros. Here is a quick look at some current numbers and extrapolations for the 162-game season. Doubtful that Keuchel will finish 24-0, but that’s how well he’s done. Can late off-season pickup Roberto Hernandez really turn in 200 IP? And, could the Astros actually produce four 30-home run hitters?

Stay tuned…which of these is most likely to stand for the entire season? And, which have been done with smoke and mirrors?

Team Projections After 41 Projected 162
Record 27-14 107-55 Wins would be most in club history.
Runs Scored 182 719 Record: 938 in 2000
Blowout Record 6-4 24-16
Strikeouts (Offensive) 371 1466 Record: 1535 in 2013.
Stolen Bases 39 154 Record: 198 in 1988.
Home Runs 61 241 Record: 249 in 2000
Strikeouts (Pitchers) 315 1245 Record: 1282 in 2004
Saves 16 64 Record: 41 in 1986.
Dallas Keuchel Record 6-0 24-0
Collin McHugh Record 5-1 20-4
Scott Feldman Record 3-4 12-16
Keuchel Innings Pitched 64 2/3 255 255 would be fifth all-time.
McHugh Innings Pitched 50 2/3 200
Roberto Hernandez Innings Pitched 49 2/3 196
Scott Feldman Innings Pitched 48 190
Luke Gregerson  Saves 10 40 Would be only fourth person to save 40.
Pat Neshek  Games 19 75
Gregerson  Games 18 71
Chad Qualls  Games 17 67
Tony Sipp  Games 17 67
Jose Altuve Hits 52 205 Back-to-back 200-hit seasons.
Luis Valbuena Home Runs 10 40
Evan Gattis Home Runs 8 32
Colby Rasmus Home Runs 8 32
Chris Carter Home Runs 7 28
George Springer Home Runs 6 24
Jose Altuve Home Runs 5 20
Jason Castro Home Runs 5 20
Altuve RBI 24 95
Gattis RBI 24 95
Carter RBI 20 79
Rasmus RBI 17 67
Altuve Stolen Bases 14 64 Record: 65, Gerald Young 1988.
Springer Stolen Bases 10 40
Jake Marisnick Stolen Bases 9 36
Carter Strike Outs 56 224 Record: Carter, 212, 2012.
Rasmus Strike Outs 44 176
Springer Strike Outs 42 168
Valbuena Strike Outs 36 144
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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

56 comments on “A quarter of way into season, Astros are the best in the AL

  1. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    If you look at it from that perspective, the outlook is great but almost scary, because you have to think that the team is playing better than anyone could have predicted.
    But here’s the thing. If the entire team regresses to the norm, Springer, Gattis, Carter, Castro and Valbuena are all going to hit for a better average, Alttuve and Rasmus, Villar on the same level, and Marisnick will hit less.
    The top 2 starters could pitch not as well but, if the guys in the middle of the lineup hit better, the w/l record of McHugh and Keuchel could be maintained.
    If this club played .500 ball the rest of the season, they are at 95 wins.
    So how do they keep winning? Their bullpen has to stay strong, They get Correa up and Lowrie back and they try to solidify their starting rotation with a healthy Ober, possibly a McCullers, and the addition of a starting pitcher at the deadline.
    This next seven games are the most important of the season, from a confidence aspect. They are playing a couple of teams that are part of The Establishment. A split in Detroit, not pitching Keuchel there, would be a rea good result in my opinion. Winning 3 of 4 there would be like a continuation ofTthe Dream.

    Like

    • BrianT
      May 21, 2015

      Not to nitpick, but .500 the rest of the way (there is an odd number of games remaining, so we will give Houston the extra win) would mean the Astros finish 88-74, the same 14-games over .500 where they’d be with the extra win.

      Still, that’s a playoff team or thereabouts.

      At this point, are we disappointed if Houston misses the playoffs? I mean, we all scoffed at Crane when he said that was the goal. And we all basically said the post season — not even considering the division — was a pipe dream.

      I’m thrilled with this season thus far. And I’m not sure how to answer my own question. Get back to me if we go .500 in Detroit. Or if we take 2 of 3 in Baltimore.

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    OMG! Don’t tell me a old person loses his Math skills, too.
    Ok, 1oldpro, calm down. After all, at 31, Hamels is too old to be a good pitcher, so everything is relative.
    Please, stop mentioning relatives!

    Like

    • BrianT
      May 21, 2015

      Sorry.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 21, 2015

        Brian, it’s hilarious. They are 13 games over .500 now and I wrongly figured that if they played .500 the rest of the way they would be 13 games over .500, or 95 wins. Now I know why teams hire young math whizzes and not OTBGs.

        Like

  3. Devin_
    May 21, 2015

    I think the pitching results are likely to regress only slightly if everyone stays healthy. That’s the difficult thing. We already know there is no help at AAA. Maybe Peacock or Olberholtzer get uninjured and provide some good starts. I worry about over-taxing the bullpen arms, but Hinch should be able to spread it out a bit now that Fields is healthy and throwing well.

    The stolen bases are already falling off, but if Altuve and Springer pick their spots we should see them continue to do well.

    I’m not sure what to do if/when Correa gets promoted. Do Valbuena and Lowrie split time? Villar would seem to be headed to Fresno. It wouldn’t shock me to see Correa finish August in Fresno if the Astros don’t suffer a drop in the standings due to SS play.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      May 21, 2015

      You might be right about Correa. When Lowrie is ready to come back, they go back to the original 7 reliever scenario. Then they look at their team and decide there is just no room for Correa and keep him in Fresno until the AAA playoffs finish.

      Like

      • Kevin
        May 21, 2015

        I hope not, I’m at Coors Field the June 17th and 18th, was hoping to see CC!

        Like

    • rj
      May 21, 2015

      i hate to bring it up, but there is a good chance someone other than villar goes to AAA. perhaps gonzales, perhaps a pitcher. in any case villar is more highly thought of by the astros manager and front office than in the blogosphere.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        May 21, 2015

        Everyone…Lowrie’s return is probably a couple months away. Plenty of things will happen by then, including potential trades, other injuries and up-and-down performance. In reality, Lowrie returns near the trade deadline, which could mean any number of players could be moved potentially (Rasmus, if Tucker has hit his stride; Carter, even Villar in part of a bigger move). If Correa is in Houston by then, the bigger question will be where to play Lowrie. First base? DH? 3B, moving Valbuena to 1B?

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 21, 2015

        I think Hinch thinks highly of everybody on a 27-14 team.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rj
        May 21, 2015

        thats my point OP, not many in here support villar. the club does.

        Like

  4. Chip Bailey
    May 21, 2015

    It’s an unusual Thursday afternoon game and here’s the lineup du jour…

    Like

  5. daveb
    May 21, 2015

    I don’t want to think that Correa might be in Fresno through the summer. First of all, there is no guarantee as to when Lowrie might be back and how effective he’ll be once he finally returns. As a first place team, the pedal should be kept to the metal. If Correa is the best guy in the system at short, bring him in. And if Valbuena is playing like a starting third baseman on a first place team, then Lowrie becomes a darn good utility man or quality trade bait.

    And this will make at least one person cringe, but Gonzalez, rather than Villar, might be odd man out at some point.

    This is a weird team. I’ve never seen one made up like this and win. Actually I’ve never seen a team made up like this. But I think this odd group can indeed win, or at least play .500 ball. My expectations are higher now though, and .500 would not satisfy me. Going forward, I don’t think we’ll pitch quite as well as we have, both with the rotation and out of the pen. But I also don’t think it’s possible we’ll keep hitting so badly. Those averages are going to come up, at least somewhat. So I see it as sort of a push. At this point, I don’t see the Astros imploding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devin_
      May 21, 2015

      I want to see Correa sooner than later, but my suggestion is that if the team continues winning at this clip they can delay the promotion and accompanying roster moves it entails. For example, if you swap Villar for Correa you only had to clear a 40 man spot first. If instead, you trade Marwin and promote Correa into his spot…what is Plan B? There is always the chance the promotion doesn’t work initially. Berkman struggled for awhile. Biggio didn’t look like 3000 hits was in his future in 1988. Springer and Singleton, well, you know…

      Like

  6. Becky
    May 21, 2015

    Who is with me in the “I never saw that coming”……….J.D. Martinez is the DH today for the Tigers!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Becky
    May 21, 2015

    Feldman is walking a tight rope today.

    Like

  8. Mr. Bill
    May 21, 2015

    I keep telling myself it is a new day, and BAs don’t matter anymore . . . but I confess that comparing the BAs of Detroit’s starting nine with the BAs of our Astros makes me throw up a little in my mouth. I guess this series will help us prove once and for all whether the OTBG in me is a wise old sage or a dottering old fool.

    Like

  9. Kevin
    May 21, 2015

    Amazing is we actually traded for Conger. The fact is, if he is worth more than a bag of BP Balls, I’m missing something

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      May 21, 2015

      Heh…we had the same thought at the same time!

      Like

  10. Billy Castillo
    May 21, 2015

    Ugh…Conger is so so awful. Despite what we gave up for him, I’d be okay with letting him go.

    And this guy was a first round pick?!

    Like

  11. Billy Castillo
    May 21, 2015

    Dumb play by Villar.

    Like

    • daveb
      May 21, 2015

      Lot of folks wanting to dog Villar these days. He knocked down a rocket one hopper at third the other night that was correctly ruled a base hit and a couple of the regulars here called him out on it. He’ll provide enough legitimate opportunities for fodder. But this one does not qualify.

      Like

  12. rj
    May 21, 2015

    how is that a dumb play? he made a good play on the ball a good throw considering how he was moving when he fielded the ball and beat the runner to the bag with the throw. the announcers on site called it a good play.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      May 21, 2015

      That throw didn’t look that good to me, and I’m sure Altuve didn’t enjoy getting plonked. If Villar had waited a second to get his footing he could’ve gotten the out at first

      Like

  13. rj
    May 21, 2015

    the throw was on the bag, the runner got there after the throw, there was no chance to get the runner at first, it was a left handed batter out of the box fast, villar took a few steps to get to the ball. take a look at the play and comments on game day on the astros site.

    Like

  14. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    I watched it four times and he made a good throw. The throw handcuffed Altuve because of Altuve’s position with his back to the plate, the runner coming in on him and the inability of Altuve to maneuver his glove because of being off-balance. I think it should have been safe on a fielders choice with no error.

    Like

  15. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    Their shortstop cost them a run by making a stupid throw into the stands trying to get Villar at first. Then Conger, who some people jump on for not being to hit, lines a beautiful RBI single to center.
    The Astros, letting the Tigers know they are a different team than they used to be.

    Like

    • Kevin
      May 21, 2015

      A dead clock is right twice a day so is a Conger I think

      Like

  16. rj
    May 21, 2015

    i don’t mean for that to be a comment jumping on you billy, i just disagree with your assessment of the play. villar just seems to be a punching bag at times.
    and in no way should my defense of him over many blogs suggest that i think of him as a better option than correa. i don’t think correa arrives until after the chance of him becoming a super two is passed. as i recall thats sometime in june. villar is a young kid with very good tools, he seems to be improving (and really needed to) the mental aspect of his game. i think he sticks with the club even after correa arrives. if he keeps improving, we’ll be glad he did.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      May 21, 2015

      Oh its ok. That was just my initial gut reaction after seeing the play and seeing that Altuve was in pain.

      To be honest, and apologies to Becky, but I think Villar should be starting over Marwin, whose weaknesses get exposed the more he starts.

      Like

  17. Devin_
    May 21, 2015

    I was going to complain that Tucker didn’t get the start. Well played, AJ Hinch.

    Like

  18. daveb
    May 21, 2015

    0-5 against Price?

    Like

  19. rj
    May 21, 2015

    one more comment. i type using only two fingers, because of that i take short cuts – usually not utilizing capital letters and a minimum of punctuation, i also try to minimize the amount of words and that sometimes make my comments seem more acerbic than i intend. so for the record let me say i really like everyone in here. i especially appreciate the work of brian, dan and chip providing us with lots of good info and fodder for comments/debates. and hoorah for that tucker pinch it homer.

    Like

    • Becky
      May 21, 2015

      You’re a treasure rj………and we all agree with you about our little blog! 🙂 🙂

      Like

  20. daveb
    May 21, 2015

    rj, I don’t think Billy is going to hold it against us.

    Like

  21. Becky
    May 21, 2015

    I *LOVE* this little team of ours!! Uh oh…….Fields is down on one knee. That was
    a HARD shot off his leg……….(((BOO)))).

    Like

  22. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    Who was that masked man, Grampa?
    That was Will Harris, my boy.

    Like

  23. Becky
    May 21, 2015

    Rats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin
      May 21, 2015

      Gattis about 3 feet short of maybe winning it for us

      Like

  24. Mr. Bill
    May 21, 2015

    Promotions Day! Feliz and Cotton to CC; Heineman and Lambson to Fresno; and Preston Tucker to ‘Official member of the MLB Home Run Hitters Club”.

    Like

  25. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    So now it’s Stassi and Heineman at Fresno. I saw that coming. Pena still at CC but a catcher also going there from extended spring training, Trent Wooward. Also Flores is going to CC, though inactive.
    Not surprised by the Lambson move. He really pitched well in Arizona Fall League and in CC. Glad he’s moving to Fresno, where they really do use relievers as relievers.
    Danial Minor released, as well as Angel Baez yesterday.

    Like

  26. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    What we faced today is going to be the kind of stuff we will face in the playoffs. A good hitting team with good pitchers.
    Washington
    Detroit
    Los Angeles
    San Francisco
    Yankees
    Mets
    Angels
    Cubs
    St. Louis
    Kansas City
    Teams with good players and money to buy more at the break.
    We need to keep some of the power, all of the bullpen, field a team who doesn’t just walk back to the dugout when facing good pitchers like Price and Garrett Richards, and we need to shore up our rotation.
    That was a really good ball game today. Hard fought, by two good teams.

    Like

  27. Kevin
    May 21, 2015

    The most impressove loss of the year 5-0 to Price and a good Tigers team NICE

    Like

    • Kevin
      May 21, 2015

      That was 13-1 in 2013

      Like

  28. Mr. Bill
    May 21, 2015

    I am hoping that McCullers’ presence alone ‘shore up the rotation’ for the next few weeks, such that when we trade for another starter we won’t give away too much of the future – especially pitching wise. As far as the position players, I’d like to see Correa for Villar, Lowry for Gonzalez, and Heineman for Conger. Whether it is Big Jon or Carter at first, it really doesn’t matter to me. Neither looks like the future, but both can smack the snot out of the occasional mistake by a #2 or 3 pitcher for the opposing team, and neither will ever have a prayer against the worst pitch ever thrown by the likes of a David Price, a Garrett Richards, or a Clayton Kershaw.

    Like

  29. Tim
    May 21, 2015

    I saw on mlbtradrumors.com the other day that the Astros were scouting Jeff Samardzija. Any thoughts on him and what would you give up for him if the pale hose put him on the market? He is a free agent at the end of the year.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      May 22, 2015

      I’ll bet my good friend JL knows exactly what the Sox want and exactly what he’s worth. I’d be willing to bet there is a considerable difference between the two.
      Do we actually need another tight end?

      Like

      • daveb
        May 22, 2015

        He’s got good hands.

        Like

  30. 1oldpro
    May 21, 2015

    Correa and Singleton with multiple hits, RBIs and one homer each tonight as Fresno is blasting Nashville.

    Like

  31. 1oldpro
    May 22, 2015

    When Correa joined Fresno their record was 16-15. Since Correa joined they are 7-2 and Fresno scored 17 runs in the two losses. So, since Correa’s arrival in AAA the Grizzlies are absolutely sizzling at the plate! Correa is 6.7 years younger than the average AAA player.

    Like

  32. 1oldpro
    May 22, 2015

    Lancaster scores 18 in the first 3 innings en route to a 22-5 win over High Desert tonight. Phillips, Reed, McDonald, Mayfield all w/ huge nights. Reed got homer #11 amongst his 3 hits and Phillips hit two triples and a single.

    Like

    • Becky
      May 22, 2015

      OP, yep……..look for A.J. Reed to find himself in Corpus by the end of July!
      And……..Correa can’t get here fast enough!

      Like

  33. Jim Currie
    May 22, 2015

    The Astros have released left-handed reliever Darin Downs, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).

    Like

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