Sports is the ultimate “What have you done for me lately” experience. The postmortem for the Houston Astros’ 2015 season will naturally lean towards the negatives of losing what had been as much as a seven game AL West division lead and a 6-2 lead six outs from appearing in the ALCS.
But there are definitely positives to be gleaned from the 2015 season and for where the Astros are positioned heading into 2016.
- Pythagorean W-L. Per the Pythagorean won-loss formula, the Astros should have finished with a 93-69 record, not their final 86-76 record. This often indicates a team that might have some better luck coming their way in the ensuing year.
- Negative turned Positive. It could be argued the mini-collapse that led to the Astros playing in the wild card play-in game may have been a positive overall. The Astros stood up on the road to a much more experienced (and much, much higher paid) team in the Yankees, stuck their foot on their throat and never gave them a modicum of a chance.
- Road Repeatability. The Astros final road record looked bad at 33-48, but this camouflages the awfulness of the 17-42 road record the team put up between May 1 and the last week of the season. It is hoped that the way the team stood up the last week of the season, winning four of six on the road and going 2-2 on the road in the playoffs will help this young team’s confidence on the road in 2016.
- Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. The Astros had the best staff ERA (3.57) in the AL and the second best starting pitching ERA (3.71) in the AL. Perhaps, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh will not be as fortunate to have 20 and 19 wins in 2016, but perhaps wunderkind Lance McCullers Jr. will have a better record than 6-7 when putting up a 3.22 ERA over 125 innings. Yes, they might need a fire-balling traditional closer to hold up the back-end of the bullpen, but the pen made a quantum leap from an AL worst 4.80 ERA in 2014 to a 4th best 3.27 ERA in 2015.
- More of a Good Thing. If 99 games of Carlos Correa and 102 games of George Springer were a very good thing, wouldn’t 150+ games of them be even better?
- Less is More. A big part of the Astros pitching and bullpen improvement in 2015 was having less innings being pitched by bad pitchers. The hope here is that a similar thing will happen with some of the high K, low contact hitters. Of course just like with the pitchers, the key is to have better hitters taking at bats from worse hitters. This is the biggest question for this off season.
So, what positives do you glean from 2015, that you think will lead to a better 2016.