Dan P’s note….I started researching and writing this post before the SF series, so some of this may seem a bit out of date as life has slowed my writing down the last few days. Still I discovered some things that confirmed what I thought and others that surprised me in putting this post together.
The Astros had a historically good offense in 2017 (First in majors with 5.53 runs/gm, .282 BA, .346 OBP and .823 OPS). So far in 2018 they have a historically meh offense (4.73 runs/gm [8th in majors], .257 BA [8th], .330 OBP [7th] and .743 OPS [9th]). It’s not a bad offense but after having a finely tuned engine running on 8 of 9 cylinders last season, they have been living with a much more sporadic offense that struggles to turn the lineup over and one that swings from flood to drought in runs scored.
Today we will look at the Astros 2017 vs their 2018 from a number of different perspectives.
Bring ’em home
The eye test tells us that this version of the team is much worse at hitting with runners on second and/or third base. The truth is not quite that simple.
The team was very good in hitting with RISP in 2017. They scored a league first 653 runs, while hitting a Springer-esque .294 BA/.360 OBP/ .841 OPS. But surprisingly they are 3rd in the AL in runs scored with RISP in 2018 with 163 runs. However, when you look at RISP with two outs, the Astros were tremendous in 2017 (First with 290 runs scored and hitting a .282/.380/.811 slash). But they are bad with RISP and two outs in 2018 as they’ve scored 48 runs (12th in the AL) and are hitting a crummy .194 BA/.296 OBP/.610 OPS slash in those situations in 2018. That is like replacing George Springer with Derek Fisher.
The Astros do a good job with runners in scoring position…..until there are two out. However, doesn’t it seem like every time that situation arose, Jake Marisnick or Fisher were coming to bat?
Scoring Early / Scoring Late
The gut test is pretty accurate when it comes to when the Astros score runs in 2018. It feels like they are always playing a 0-0 game in the 6th inning, which was not the case in their championship season. In 2017, the Astros scored the 2nd most runs between the 1st and 6th innings in the AL. And to top the cherry they scored the most runs in the AL from the 7th inning onward.
In 2018, they continue to shine late as they have scored 85 runs (1st in the AL) from the 7th inning onward. However…..as our gut tells us they have only scored 136 runs from the 1st thru 6th innings which is tied for the 11th worst in the league.
If the team did not have the best starting pitching in the universe they would be in a deep hole in many of their games, but luckily they do have that luxury, so far.
Home Field Advantage – Not
The Astros in 2018 are in a deep funk hitting at home as compared to the road even deeper than in 2017. On the road, they are second in the AL in runs scored (125), BA (.277) and OPS (.794). At home they are not so good. They are 8th in runs scored (96 runs), 13th in BA (.231) and 15th in OPS (.681). That is almost inexplicable.
Regression, thou art a heartless witch
Before the season three hitters who had career years in 2017 were tagged as the most likely to regress to or below the middle.
- Marwin Gonzalez – In 2017, MarGo set career marks in Runs scored, hits, HRs, RBIs, BA, OBP, SLG and OPS. In 2018, he is looking bad with a .225 BA/ .648 OPS and is on pace to fall well below all the marks he set last season.
- Josh Reddick – Josh’s .314 BA/ .363 OBP / .847 OPS were the best of his very solid career. This season these numbers have fallen hard to .227/.331/.740.
- Jake Marisnick – Considering he only had 230 ABs in 2017, Jake’s huge numbers for about 1/3 a season of ABs of 50 runs, 16 HRs and 35 RBIs gave folks visions of a bat turning around. In 2018, his microscopic .141 BA/.151 OBP/ .434 OPS slash made everyone think those visions were hallucinations.
Jose Altuve hit 24 HRs in 2017 – this season he is on pace for 7 HRs
Yuli Gurriel hit 18 in 2017 – on pace for 3 in 2018
Alex Bregman had 19 and now is on pace for 13
Marwin. 23 HRs and now on pace for 13 HRs
Marisnick. 16 HRs and now on pace for 10
McCann. 18 HRs and now on pace for 13 HRs
Even Springer had 34 and is on pace for only 30
Of course that is not the only way to score runs but this team was solid in this category last season.
Questions for you….
- How much of this is normal regression?
- How much is long season hangover?
- How much is other teams getting more data, film, word of mouth on the hitters?
- Do you think bringing up folks like Tony Kemp and J.D. Davis is the answer?
- When do you think they will consider bringing up Kyle Tucker, currently hitting .290 BA/.359 OBP/ .803 OPS at AAA?