Sunday update: At halfway point, Houston is on its way to record season


This weekend, the Astros hit the mid-point of what thus far has been the most spectacular season in the organization’s history. As games begin on Sunday, Houston has the best record in baseball and a 14-game lead in the AL West Division.

When Sports Illustrated predicted a World Series championship this season, no one — no, not even you! — could possibly have projected the domination the team has wrought on the league to date in 2017. If A.J. Hinch‘s group continues to play this well in the second half, the 1980, 1986, 1997 and 2004-05 teams will pale in comparison.

At the halfway point, here are a few notes. Houston…

  • Is on its way to a 108-win season, despite a run of bad luck with its pitching staff.
  • Is on pace to a 61-20 record on the road.
  • Will likely have more fans in attendance for home games than any season since 2009.
  • Will likely break the all-time organizational HR record (249 in 2000).

Think about this. When is the last time Houston had FOUR players with a .900+ OPS. At the halfway point, George Springer (.948), Carlos Correa (.920), Jose Altuve (.923) and Marwin Gonzalez (.973) all are solidly in that category.

Moreover, remember all those K-heavy teams? When is the last time Houston had five players with OBPs above .350? Altuve (.401), Gonzalez (.400), Correa (.387), Springer (.367) and Josh Reddick (.358) all are seeing the ball well and are five reasons Houston is also on pace to challenge its all-time runs scored record as a team.

Heck, the team OBP is .348 at this point. Last year? .319.

Speaking of individuals…

  • Springer is on pace for 48 HR.
  • Altuve is headed for an unprecedented fourth straight 200-hit season.
  • Dallas Keuchel could still win 20 games, despite missing nearly two months of the season.
  • Six players are on pace for 35 doubles or more.
  • Seven hitters are on pace for 20+ HR, and 11 different players will likely hit 10 or more HRs.

Houston starters aren’t likely to smash any individual records, but — for better or worse — five relievers are on target to appear in 60+ games apiece.

That’s just a quick synopsis of the first half, but there is no doubt that Houston will break records this season. Individual players will have career seasons and the post season awards will include plenty of Astros.

Still the biggest ‘record’ or best ‘number’ — not to mention the only one that matters — will be the total wins. Everything else will take care of itself and Jeff Luhnow will be writing some hefty checks in the next 12 months.

One last thought in how far this team has come in less than a year? Did Jason Castro, Carlos Gomez, Doug Fister, Luis Valbuena, Scott Feldman and Pat Neshek really play in Houston less than a year ago?

Dan will be along with the June ChipalattAwards on Tuesday, but let’s get a head start with a few questions.

  1. Most surprising accomplishment by a player in the first half.
  2. Total number of wins by Dallas Keuchel for 2017?
  3. Who crashes and burns in the second half?
  4. Who steps up from the middle of the pack to cover for the burns and busts?
  5. Over/under for total Astros’ wins in the regular season?
  6. Which single player must have a career second half for Houston to succeed down the stretch?
  7. What could bring the Astros’ house of cards tumbling down in the next 81 games?
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90 comments on “Sunday update: At halfway point, Houston is on its way to record season

  1. 1. Most surprising accomplishment by a player in the first half- It has to be Marwin Gonzalez’s 160 wRC+ and 1.8 WAR. Nobody could have expected this from a role player and he has to be the biggest surprise on the team.
    I was going to say Gurriel on this question, but Marwin’s numbers are just undeniable.

    Like

  2. 1. Only because of his time in LA LA Land, I would have to say Josh Reddick. Or perhaps JL knowing there was still a player with a burning desire still inside him as most surprising. 2. DK – 16 wins. 3. I hope no one but the one most vulnerable is Beltran simply due to age. 4. He is playing in Fresno or Corpus – but now sure who. 5. I’ll take 96 and be happy, but probably a little higher. 6. How about Jose Correa. 7. Multiple injuries can wreck any team. If they lost the first four batters for a long period of time, there would be a drop off. Don’t see a single injury doing much damage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 3. Who crashes and burns in the second half?
    I’m going to go with Aoki. He doesn’t have the defensive abilities to make up for his offensive limitations.
    Aoki does not have the power tool to make himself valuable once in a while with the long ball.
    Because of his inability to get base hits, at this time, pitchers are not afraid to groove pitches to him, so his OBP is down to match his BA.
    His walk rate is down
    His K rate is up
    His BA is down
    His age is up, indicating he might be fading against major leaguers.
    He can only lead by example as he doesn’t seem to be able to sit down and converse with younger players.
    He has negative WAR with offense, defense and base running currently all on the minus side.
    I don’t think that the team will just cut him, with them continuing to lead baseball in many categories, but when the team starts to improve itself with trades, they might review his place on the team, especially if Fisher, Kemp or Teoscar are red hot and ready.

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  4. Good job as usual Chip!
    On to your questions….

    1)Most surprising accomplishment by a player in the first half.
    Marwin at least had shown some splashes previously – To me Brad Peacock has been the most surprising. In parts of 5 seasons he had a cumulative 0.5 WAR coming into 2017 and he has already put up 1.3 WAR in the first half. His 5 wins, his 7 badly needed starts and especially his 13+ K/9 IP (He had been hovering around the 8 K/9 IP before this) are all huge surprises. He was likely headed towards DFA when McHugh went lame and here he is helping the team out big time.

    2)Total number of wins by Dallas Keuchel for 2017?
    I think about 15 – hard to see him quite as sharp as he was early

    3) Who crashes and burns in the second half?
    The Rangers – haha. I think Marwin will cool off some, but still have a career year. Reddick may cool a bit, but it sure helps to bat 2nd with Springer ahead of you and Altuve and Correa coming next.

    4) Who steps up from the middle of the pack to cover for the burns and busts?
    I think Gattis will go on a power surge. This may be wishful thinking, but at some point I expect Beltran to warm up.

    5) Over/under for total Astros’ wins in the regular season?
    101 wins

    6) Which single player must have a career second half for Houston to succeed down the stretch?
    Don’t think it is necessary – they have a “team” and the sum of the parts is impressive.

    7) What could bring the Astros’ house of cards tumbling down in the next 81 games?
    More starting pitching problems that lead to an overworked bullpen is my real concern. Injuries are always the concern, but they have weathered their share and more to date.

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  5. Ricky Nolasco threw a complete game, three hit shutout against Seattle last night. That’s after beating the Dodgers five days ago.
    Nolasco struck out seven and walked nobody in his gem. He kept the Angels within 13.5 games behind Houston and in second place alone in the AL West. The Angels are only a game behind in the wild card standings.

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  6. Yes, Yankee game plan is to get to the pen. We are going to need 3 tidy innings from Devenski today. I’m sure Harris wants another shot and Giles should be able to throw the 9th.

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    • Well…..they tacked on a couple more, now 5-0….but this crap can’t keep happening or every guy in that bullpen is going to be in arm slings. ESPECIALLY Devenski.

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  7. To the questions:

    1. I have to take back everything I’ve ever said (except for the defensive issues) about Marwin. His approach from both sides is so very different. He might really be for real.

    2. I’m hoping Keuchel wins 9 more games. That would mean he remains healthy.

    3. Jake will always be a defensive gem, but I see more and more of the regular Jake creeping back in at the plate.

    4. Bregman steps up significantly. Beltran steps up somewhat. Gattis hits a batch of homers. My longshot guy is Martes. I liked the way he looked against the Yankees last night.

    5. 100.

    6. I don’t think anyone has to have a career year, although I’d like to see it from Lance McCullers.

    7. Easy question Chip. If the rotation does not get fixed, the pen will come tumbling down along with it.

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  8. Every time I see Aoki bat, I wonder why Jake isn’t starting.

    Marwin is the real deal…he now has this confidence at the plate where he just looks scary batting from the left side.

    Every time i think Jake is going to go back to the old JFSF, he strings together a couple of two hit games. He’s striking out more than ever but he’s also hitting more than ever. Do there’s that. A good deal of his strikeouts though are called on borderline pitches, and to his credit hasn’t thrown Castro-like tantrums.

    Once Keuchel and Morton come back, I expect us to go back on an extended winning streak. But boy that final spot in the bullpen has been a revolving door, and the fact that Fresno has weak pitching has been laid bare.

    Beltran is my crash and burn. Father time has not just caught up to him…it’s taken a sack full of soap bars and is actively beating him with it. It may be time for him to develop a mysterious “injury” so he could travel with the team , let Gattis be the full time DH and bring up Centeno/Stassi to be the backup catcher or let Gattis be the backup catcher when he’s not dh-ing and bring up Moran.

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      • 1OP, that comment made me smile. He is officially now into the second half of the season. We have several guys that will show more production in the second half, even if guys like Jake regress.

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    • Mrs. Sarge and I have been discussing Beltran. We hold him responsible for the turnaround of the club this year. Beltran said he had been impressed with the “Astro’s Way” as taught and ruled by Biggio and Bagwell and has taken the lead to institute that mindset with the young club this season. It has worked. We do not see the water works from the cups, nor the feeling that we are going to lose a game, and the solid confidence of Biggio and Bagwell’s “Astro’s Way” is with the club again.

      So, we ask each other, what will the club do with him next year? We both want him back I am somewhat leery since Father Time has caught him this season. As Daveb notes in this thread, he has not played the field since May 16 and he chose to return here so he could play the field and not be the full-time DH. So… he may be injured slightly or maybe he accepts that the club is rolling and he should not upset the apple cart.

      Mrs. wants him back to be the DH again and I feel he could do that or maybe, accept a spot on the team as a “player coach.”

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      • He previously sounded as if 2017 was his last year playing ball. We may not have the option of keeping him.

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      • It is probably not up to the club what Beltran does or doesn’t do. He is a free agent after this season. I think the outcome of this season will determine what plans he and the Astros both have for the future.

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      • 1OP, I realize that the decision is Beltran’s to make. I was just relating some light baseball conversation that the Mrs., who loves baseball. and I have.

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    • But why would you up 8-0? We have been lamenting the over usage of our bullpen so why have Devo throw a 3rd inning up 8 runs in the 7th inning? I was at the game today and I was glad they took out Devo after his 2 innings. With the off day tomorrow he can pitch on Tuesday, if needed. If they pitched him another inning it all, but ruled him out for Tuesday.

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      • Tim, fair points. As 1OP noted a couple of days ago, we could still win this series, even after losing the opener, heck, by 9 runs. Well, he was right. Good call.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Astros win 2 out of three from the Yankees and finish the home stand 4-2. They lost both game 1s and then took the last 2 of each series.
    Now they go on the road where maybe Jose Altuve can hit.

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  10. The guys have 5 more games to play before the break, they have 56 wins, anyone want to bet they finish with 60 wins before the break??? How cool would THAT be!!!
    The arlington little league lost after their bullpen coughed up the lead!! ((GRINNING).

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Morton had a real good outing for CC today and threw 74 pitches. If he feels good tomorrow I think he will be back in the rotation this week.
    Rogelio Armenteros has been promoted to Fresno, where he will begin in their bullpen.
    Fresno won their 10th game in a row today.

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  12. *Most surprising accomplishment by a player in the first half*

    The most surprising accomplishment to me is the Keuchel rebound. After the absolutely horrible year he had last year, which he blamed on a very vague, nondescript, late-reported injury, I quite frankly thought he had developed a case of ‘I won a Cy Young Award-itis’ and never expected anything good from him ever again. Of course, DK hasn’t been able to stay on the field this year, but at least when he’s pitched, he’s been really, really good.

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  13. *Total number of wins by Dallas Keuchel for 2017?*

    I would like to say 18 to 20, but I think he’ll spend at least half the rest of the season, and probably the playoffs, on the DL – so I’ll go with 12.

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  14. *Who steps up from the middle of the pack to cover for the burns and busts?

    Most likely candidate – Alex Bregman, who is WAY better than he is playing.

    Possibility, if Aoki is diagnosed with an ‘injury’ and goes to DL – Derek Fisher.

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  15. *What could bring the Astros’ house of cards tumbling down in the next 81 games?*

    If two of the trio of Keuchel, McHugh, and Morton cannot come back and, as a trio, average at least 6.1 innings per start with an average ERA under 3.50 and an average WHIP under 1.15. Or, if McCullers goes on the DL for more than a couple of weeks.

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  16. Keuchel was picked 2nd to pitch for the AS, game and McCullers was picked 1st.
    I hope McCullers gets an inning, but he probably won’t, and I’m kinda disappointed that Devo wasn’t picked for the pen. I was so proud to see our 3 representing the Astros!! AND….. *no* little league from arlington guys!! I watched their game today to see how Quintana was pitching……uh, no thanks. I’d rather have Sony Gray.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Its the halfway point of the season and I am stunned at my team’s record.
    It’s like I’m dreaming this.
    Are the Astros feeling the same way about themselves.
    The guy we beat today pitching for the Yankees made the All-Star team.
    As little as our park is, we haven’t had to be bombarded with all the statcast distances for Judge’s latest homer for at least three days.
    With a day off tomorrow, our bullpen will be rested Tuesday.
    Even though our team new they had five all-stars, the whole team was all-star today.
    Tomorrow, stat hunting.
    I know they won’t allow Keuchel to pitch, but Devenski would be a nice sub. I wonder if Keuchel will go to Miami.

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    • Regarding the Statcast stuff, we are already so very tired of hearing what the speed and angle was of the hits. Enough already!

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    • Ha! I love my Astros, but some of our fans are simply bandwagon fans and not true baseball fans. I know everyone here is a true baseball fan, but if you listen to the call in show on 790 AM after the game you will know what I mean. It is embarrassing, at times, listening to some of our ‘fans’ try and talk baseball.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Interesting point about Fresno. And I will defer to the ones that follow the minors more than I. But all Fresno pitchers on the 40 man roster have been called up at one time or another. Yet they win 10 in a row. Is there a chance we have better non-roster pitching? Does that mean a big shuffle at season end to protect from Rule IV draft?

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    • No. The team batting average for Fresno is .295 and every hitter there has hit like .350 for the last two weeks. Moran, Kemmer, Kemp Tucker, Reed and Fisher Brignac, Centeno have all been knocking the heck out of the ball and their pitching has gotten a little better.
      Their hitting has mirrored the Astros, but against AAA pitching.

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    • To answer your other question, about Rule 5 protection, they may want to protect Kevin Comer. He is becoming more valuable as a reliever and has been one of Luhnow’s developmental guys who was acquired with Musgrove in the Happ trade.

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  19. After Armenteros was promoted to Fresno, Framber Valdez was promoted to CC and 19 year old Forrest Whitley was promoted to Buies Creek.
    I think it was Rosenthal who reported the other day that Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley were Houston’s most untouchable prospects.

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  20. -With 6 games left before the break, Evan Gattis has the exact same number of RBIs this season(32) as Jason Castro had in the entire 2016 season.
    – This morning, Fangraphs has Altuve with 3.5 WAR, Correa with 3.5 and Springer with 3.3. Throw a blanket over those three All-Stars. Altuve is 4th in WAR in MLB and Correa is 7th and Springer is 11th.
    -The only Astros pitcher with negative WAR is Jordan Jankowski and it is only a -.2
    – The leaders in pitching WAR are LMJ at 2.6, Keuchel and Devenski at 1.9 and Peacock at 1.5.
    – The leaders in defensive stats are Springer, when he is playing CF only and McCann behind the plate. Springer is 30th in team defensive numbers when he is playing RF, according to Fangraphs.
    – Ironically, the top 5 players in MLB all have negative defensive numbers, according to Fangraphs. I would not have thought that possible.

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  21. So, the Fresno rotation/tandem pool is now:
    – Joe Musgrove [til he officially gets called up to replace Paulino; then Armenteros?]
    – David Martinez
    – Kyle Smith
    – Dean Deetz
    – Trent Thornton
    – Mike Hauschild [7 day DL]
    – Brian Holmes
    – Casey Coleman

    I suppose they will also get Mr. Martes back when Mr. Morton returns to Houston.

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  22. It looks like the Corpus Christi Hooks’ rotation/tandem pool now consists of:
    – Cy Sneed
    – Yoanys Quiala
    – Framber Valdez
    – Josh James
    – Alex Winkleman
    – Akeem Bostick
    – Ryan Thompson
    – Kent Emmanuel
    – Brock Dykxhoorn

    For a little while, the Hooks also have both Charlie Morton and Colin McHugh.

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  23. Buies Creek, at High A, is now operating with a rotation/tandem pool of:
    – Justin Farrell
    – Forrest Whitely
    – Brett Adcock
    – Franklin Perez
    – Hector Perez
    – Jorge Alcala
    – Ryan Hartman
    – Matt Bower
    – Elieser Hernandez [7-day DL]

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  24. At Quad Cities [Low A] the starter pool includes:
    – Cionel Perez
    – Carson Larue
    – Gabriel Valdez
    – Abdiel Saldana
    – Carlos Sanabria
    – Dustin Hunt
    – Yohan Ramirez
    – Enoli Paredes [7-day DL]

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  25. Yulieski Gurriel-I tried to point out that Gurriel was hampered last season by the lingering effects of his hamstring injury, at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths.
    Gurriel has turned his base running around this season now that he is healthy and has positive number on the basepaths. He had negative numbers last season.
    Gurriel shows negative numbers defensively, but a bunch of that came earlier when he was learning a new position, which he had not played before. Lately he has been very good on defense.
    Offensively, he has good numbers. His wRC+ is 111 and trending upward, His BA is .292. He has passed his yearlong projections with 10 HRs and 39 RBIs. If you were offered him at a .292 BA and 19 HRs and 75 RBIs for the full season would you have taken it in April? Oh yeah, I would have.
    His K-rate is 12.3%, against pitchers he hasn’t seen before.
    I have not been able to find a month by month breakdown of his errors. If someone is better than me at finding that out I would love to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same to you. I love July 4th, but I do not like July 4th baseball uniforms! Baseball has carried the uniform thing way too far for this olde tyme beisbol purist.
      Baseball was no less patriotic when all teams wore their own uniforms. Yesterday 25,000 Astros fans showed up wearing orange, only to see both teams wearing the same stupid uniforms.
      How about each team not spending thousands of dollars each for roller derby uniforms.

      Liked by 2 people

    • We love you too pencil01!! We wish you would jump in more often! I agree let us raise a glass of your favorite beverage to our GREAT country, and pray for all of our servicemen who are in harms way. I love baseball….and I ESPECIALLY LOVE THIS TEAM⚾!!!

      Liked by 4 people

  26. Forrest Whitely is having a really good start so far for Buies Creek. 3.0 Innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks and only 42 pitches. Welcome to High ‘A’, Forrest!

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  27. This is so weird and the reason why the Twins will fade. The Twins are 25-15 on the road and 17-25 at home.
    If you can’t win at home, you will eventually start to fade on the road, too.

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  28. All the talk of using Rogelio Armenteros as a reliever for awhile upon his arrival in AAA appears to have been with tongue in cheek. On Rogelio’s first night in AAA, he was called upon to start vs Sacramento, He proceeded to throw 6 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits and 3 BBs, He struck out 8. He got the win, Welcome to AAA, Rogelio!

    Like

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