Free Blog Weekend: AL West, Altuve, Ohtani and other notes

Today we bring back an oldie but goodie, the Free Blog Weekend. Chip’s intent here was to throw down a few ideas and allow faithful readers to go off in any direction they felt like as long it was baseball related and respectful of others. So here are some threads to follow or ignore….

The AL West to this point is the best division in the AL. The division has 4 of the 5 teams above .500 and playing solid ball to this point. The sad sack Rangers are the exception. Please, don’t weep too long or too hard.

It would behoove the Astros to discourage the A’s this weekend. The A’s come in playing very good ball, winning 8 of their last 10 and have Sean Manaea coming off of a no-hitter leading off for Oakland in this 3 game series.

Will Jose Altuve now go on a streak? He seemed to be placing a lot of pressure on himself to hit that first home run of the season and perhaps he will not relax and hit them long and hard naturally.

Are Derek Fisher and/or Jake Marisnick about to come out of their respective slumps. Their hitting was so bad that getting a hit here and there seems like an awakening. Slumps at the very beginning of the season look worse than a bad four weeks in the middle of the season. Unless these are not just slumps.

How about that Ohtani. The Astro fans saw him pitch in person, where he has talent, but also an average 4.43 ERA after four starts. We did not see him bat, but he has put up strong numbers in limited ABs to date (3 HRs and 11 RBIs in 42 ABs), since he does not DH the day before or after he starts. Maybe he is not the new Babe Ruth, but he has brought some energy and interest to an Angel club that is off to a strong start.

The games are going so much faster after the new rule changes….Right?. The biggest non-event so far is the rule about limiting mound visits. Have not seen where it mattered at all so far.

Now it is your turn to grab one of these thoughts and run or throw out your own.


96 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: AL West, Altuve, Ohtani and other notes

      • Ahh… maybe that was too harsh. More like a biodegradable non renewable resource.

        Seriously though I’m tired of us getting pitchers with funky deliveries because they just about never work out for us while they’re here.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I understand the frustration with Smith’s string of bad performances this year, but hopefully he just needs some rest and a slight tweak of arm angle, a slight adjustment of his position on the rubber, or a slight change in posture or angle of follow through. I would personally like to see him go on the DL – man, his old, worn out arm must hurt – right? – for awhile, then a rehab stint at Corpus to get his mechanics back in line.

      I get that Hinch wanted to show confidence in Smith – kind of ‘back on the bicycle, son’ – on Sunday. But I think the first two batters he faced proved he really does have something that is just not right.


  1. Meanwhile, the Yankees just swept the Angels, dropping the Halos into 3rd place in the division, 1/2 game behind the Mariners. The Yanks have now won 9 straight. Time to stop that streak, right guys?


  2. Dan and some others mentioned the other day about reviewing the archives. I was wondering if there were any noticeable changes in the Chipalatta fan base over the past several years as the team went from woeful (to choose a nice word) to World Series Champs. Now that we have some really cool gear never before available to us, have we become more or less patient/forgiving/optimistic/happy?

    Personally, being a fan since day one of the franchise I was accustomed to bad teams, mediocre teams, and promising teams ending in disappointment. So I approach the Astros with cautious optimism. If they win a championship, yay! But it’s never guaranteed and we can’t live or die by the prospect. For me, that part hasn’t changed, but I have to admit the glow of being Champs has lasted longer than I thought it might. Maybe it’s because we are still good. It’s very refreshing to see ownership and management in sync and have a goal of sustained excellence, and the players to make it happen

    Then again, maybe it’s the gear.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wanted to confirm a hunch this morning and got to looking at fielding stats. The Astros lead MLB in fielding percentage and fewest errors (8) and are second to the Indians in defensive efficiency. Of the eight errors two were committed by pitchers. Altuve and Correa have ZERO errors. I kind of thought they were looking good but now the numbers confirm. Is there another keystone combo in MLB even to be mentioned in the same breath as these two? So while we may rightfully lament our sometime uninspiring offensive production the defensive effort has been really consistent. Bregman leads the team with three errors but my feeling is that they came from early carelessness and he seems to be over it and making spectacular plays left and right. The Red Sox, Angels and Mariners trail us in the AL OTOH the Yankees are dead last in number of errors. They can certainly mash but I’m hoping they get bit by a poor play here and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thoughts today….
    – I hate judging anybody on a small sample. Like Joe Smith with a 9+ ERA in 9 plus innings. It reminds me of Chris Devenski with a 9 ERA in 8 IP in the playoffs. I thought Smith looked better Sunday – I was not sure what Mr. Bill was getting at with the first two hitters – Full count sharp grounder to SS and a K, but he did give up the HR to Pinder who has been a hot hitter (.317 BA / .988 OPS). I do agree it is probably something a little bit mechanical and I wouldn’t go ballistic if they figured out a way to gin up a short dl stint for him.
    – Dr. Bill – thanks for bringing up defense – it is something that is rarely talked about here or anywhere and it certainly has been a strong area for the team


  5. As a native Houstonian (I lived in Pasadena until 1964 when we moved to North Kaklacky) I always followed the Astros (Colts). I was working in Houston in the early 80’s and went to the dome to see games. When I worked in Northern CA I would journey to Candlestick to see Houston play there. So yes, I went through all of those up and down years. I loved last year because I think the fans/city deserved a championship almost more than the team did. It’s just that with the talent we now have we expect to do better or at least the same as last year. We’re upset when we don’t win when we think we should and ecstatic when we snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. No we don’t think we should win 162 games but we want to get back to the playoffs and the World Series.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. With a .229 BABIP to date, I think this is Yuli’s series.

    Nice to start with the guy I wanted us to trade for last summer.

    Their pen with a lead is tough to beat.


  7. Since the current home stand began – even with an ugly game or two – six position players’ individual offensive numbers have shown some improvement:

    Springer – BA up from .239 to .267, and OPS up from .790 to .837;
    Altuve – BA up from .344 to .351, and OPS up from .801 to .857;
    Bregman – BA up from .253 to .262, and OPS up from .683 to .738;
    Marwin – BA up from .200 to .239, and OPS up from .606 to .692;
    Fisher – BA up from .128 to .184, and OPS up from .423 to .635;
    Marisnick – BA up from .130 to .143, and OPS up from .371 to .458.

    The other six position players have seen some declines:

    Correa – BA down from .351 to .320, and OPS down from .993 to .907;
    Reddick – BA down from .250 to .241, and OPS down from .915 to .817;
    Gurriel – BA down from .273 to .222, and OPS down from .763 to .645;
    McCann – BA down from .318 to .286, and OPS down from .876 to .843;
    Stassi – BA down from .303 to .256, and OPS down from .955 to 817;
    Gattis – BA down from .217 to .208, and OPS down from .641 to .602

    Springer and Altuve have really powered the offense. But against the Yanks, we will probably need at least Correa, Gurriel and Reddick to get back in rhythm.

    Gattis, oh Gattis, where art thou?


  8. A month into the season, here is how our starters have performed:

    ERA – 1. JV [.136]; 2. Cole [.174]; 3. Morton [1.73]; 4. LMJ [3.71]; 5. DK [4.00];

    WHIP – 1. JV [0.73]; 2. Cole [o.79]; 3. Morton [1.10]; 4. LMJ [1.21]; 5. DK [1.31];

    BAA – 1. JV [.135]; 2. Cole [.174]; 3. Morton [.198]; 4. LMJ [.232]; 5. DK [.254];

    WP – 1. Morton [0]; 2. JV [1]; 3. LMJ [2]; 4. Cole [3]; 5. DK [4];

    K/9 – 1. Cole [13.9]; 2. LMJ [11.65; 3. JV [10.89]; 4. Morton [10.86]; 5. DK [7.0];

    BB/9 – 1. Cole [1.73]; 2. JV [1.82]; 3. DK [3.0], 4. LMJ [3.18], 5. Morton [3.41];

    HR/9 – 1. Cole [o.66], 2. LMJ [0.79], 3. JV [0.92], 4. Morton [1.24], 5. DK [1.5].

    Based upon the foregoing, it looks like our rotation order probably should be:

    1. Verlander;
    2. Cole;
    3. Morton;
    4. LMJ;
    5. DK.


    • Sorry – though the order doesn’t change, the ERA numbers are a little messed up. Those numbers should read:
      1. Verlander 1.36;
      2. Cole 1.73;
      3. Morton 1.86;
      4. LMJ – 3.71
      5. Keuchel – 4.00

      The one thing these stats make clear is that JV is almost always at or near the top and that DK is almost always at or near the bottom.


      • Of all our starters DK is the only one who has been unable to compete in the strike zone. If he doesn’t get the marginal calls he’s in trouble and when he throws the ball in the strike zone completely he’s getting hit hard. A full half season of this and we ought to see him and McHugh switch roles.


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