Identifying Astros’ offensive woes


Dan P’s note….I started researching and writing this post before the SF series, so some of this may seem a bit out of date as life has slowed my writing down the last few days.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.

Power Outage

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?
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157 comments on “Identifying Astros’ offensive woes

  1. Maybe that inning woke these guys up!! It’s turned into a laugher…..but remember we were getting shut out by Kluber! Gotta start getting these guys in!

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  2. Many good things to focus on. In keeping with my no woe mentality, I’ll overlook the baserunning issues. Over the past two nights, 19 runs and 29 hits? Against a quality team on the road? We waited out two good starters and got their pitch counts up. I saw two beautiful bunts tonight. We’ve got some hitters starting to hit. The pen looks solid. Our 5th best starter kept us close. Things are clicking.

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    • Yep…..but we can’t always depend on that. They gotta start getting guys in when you have guys on 2nd and 3rd with one out! Like I said…..maybe this game woke them up, because they face two more VERY tough pitchers tomorrow and Sunday.

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    • You are right, dave. It was our #5 against their #1 and we won. What’s great is that a bunch of guys who were slumping lately got RBI hits tonight. That’s
      how you get the whole team rocking.
      Dave, you know that great baseball comedy skit by Abbott and Costello, Woe’s on First?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Woe is the tale of the guy on the mound looking in at Springer right now and the guys coming up behind him. Grizzled George is still getting better. Bregman has that sparkling .391 OBP and has sneakily gotten his OPS up to .836. It will only grow. Jose showed a glimpse last night. He’s not hurt, does not need a rest, is still smiling, does not have too much money and will hit. He’ll likely hit today. Junior, Carlos that is, at 23, is still making adjustments. But he sure does not stink. And he’s still got 33 RBI’s along with playing some of the most beautiful shortstop I’ve ever seen from anyone. And as long as Yuli keeps swinging, his numbers will grow too. Evan Gattis: His OPS over the past 28 days is .812. over 14 days, 1.021, 7 days, 1.136. Time to ride Evan. We don’t require another DH. Marwin stinks so far. Reddick sort of stinks so far. But that’s good news too! Marwin has a .281 BABIP. Reddick a .250. Then we have two catches that both give us an offensive weapon. We’ve got a fast guy that knows how to bunt, and makes catching fly balls interesting. We’ve got a fast guy that does not know how to bunt and makes fly balls look easy. Have I missed anything? Anyway, we’re starting to play ball.

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      • I just hope Trevor Bauer ‘woe’-n’t break down and cry – or strain his pretty little neck – when he looks up at the line drives our guys crush off of him as they go screaming over his head.

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  3. Seems just like last year doesn’t it. Late inning rally’s, good pitching from the BP, timely hitting. Hopefully here to stay. If this keeps up we could have a 10 game lead going into the AS break. I believe that the hitters are finally hitting smart again. Laying off of the bad stuff and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded them. And Bregman’s plate discipline is absolutely amazing. Yes he got rung up on a called 3rd strike but it was a “perfect pitch” or so they say. Let’s go get some support for LMJ today. And kudos to DK for hanging in there and keeping us in the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bregman now has a history of being a slow starter but then heats up. I think though once he reaches max potential he’ll end up being our franchise player. Just a hunch

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  4. If I remember correctly the Dodgers had a 50 game stretch last year where they went something like 40-10. As our hitting improves I think we’re capable of a similar run, especially if we make a statement against the Yankees and Red Sox this next week. This team is so much better than the 2017 Dodgers who IMHO took advantage of a weak National League to fashion their great record. Our schedule in June and July is ripe for the picking.

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    • We might already be starting it. We’ve had so many guys hitting below their career norms and we’re still winning. We’re starting to come out of it and we’re still winning. Every player will have a stretch where they aren’t playing well. That happens. It just happened early. That’s ok. I’d rather it now than later.

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  5. The WILD child toes the rubber tonight…..I always keep my fingers crossed when Lance is pitching! Game is on regular Fox tonight! ” Keep the line moving guys”!!!

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    • thanks for that info becky. i dont get to see them often and regular fox is about the only place i do get to see them. (except for when they play the rangers, i get those games) so thanks much for the heads up.

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  6. It used to piss me off in Little League when our pitcher would show his distaste on the field after an error and embarrass a fielder. The booth is talking about it as I type this. Zero excuse. Lance really needs to grow up.

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  7. I’m really annoyed. A juvenile performance and a lack of composure by Lance. At 5 to3, I think we win this game. We still might, but what an unfocused immature effort. Another night like this and I’ll start yelling for Colllin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OP, I saw what you meant the other day on post of woes. You stated how MG can’t hit breaking pitches down low. Been observing how those pitches have been eating his lunch & racking up strikeouts. Also Gattis trying to control his penchant for over swinging. Your spot on observations still get my vote as advisor to Hudgens. And get with George later, that last ab in the 3rd inning, looking like a amateur was horrendous

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  8. Now it’s Marwin who’s in a hitting funk. Time to sit him down for a game or two. At .217 he’s now averaging lower than Gattis.

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