Through the looking glass: What’s left is right, what’s right is left for Astros


Old school baseball fans recently have had to throw away ideas that had been carved in stone over many years of baseball watching, but blasted to bits by technological dynamite in this new nerd world order. Stealing bases? Not an efficient way of scoring runs. Bunting? Fuggeddaboutit. Placing extra fielders on one side of the field daring the opponent to hit against their trends? Now you are talking. There are tons of others….discuss among your selves.

But one trend I am struggling to understand relative to the 2018 Astros strikes to the core of my baseball self. Lefties hit righties better than lefties, and righties hit lefties better than righties. Period. End of story. Forever, this has been the basis for lineup decisions, for substitutions and for pinch-hitting choices. Again, end of story.

But the 2018 Astros are writing their own version of this story. If you drop out the sole switch hitter, Marwin Gonzalez and look at the other thirteen Astro hitters who have gotten significant ABs this season, nine of them are putting up better numbers against those pitchers, who are throwing from their side, including all four lefties.

A quick look at the various combinations (all stats through 5-June)…..

Lefties hitting better against lefties

  • Brian McCann – Against RHP – .195 BA/.268 OBP/.601 OPS  Against LHP – .296 BA/.441 OBP/ .849 OPS
  • Josh Reddick –  Against RHP – .213 BA/.336 OBP/.709  OPS  Against LHP – .263 BA/.317 OBP/ .817 OPS
  • Derek Fisher  –  Against RHP – .143 BA/.194 OBP/.543 OPS   Against LHP – .364 BA/.357 OBP/ 1.175 OPS
  • Tony Kemp    –  Against RHP – .225 BA/.304 OBP/.654 OPS   Against LHP – .500 BA/.667 OBP/ 1.167 OPS

Righties hitting better against righties

  • Jose Altuve   –    Against RHP – .357 BA/.405 OBP/.902 OPS  Against LHP – .265 BA/.301 OBP/ .640 OPS
  • Alex Bregman –  Against RHP – .278 BA/.391 OBP/.829 OPS  Against LHP – .215 BA/.329 OBP/ .698 OPS
  • Evan Gattis     –  Against RHP – .230 BA/.310 OBP/.730 OPS  Against LHP – .200 BA/.246 OBP/ .663 OPS
  • J.D. Davis       –   Against RHP – .212 BA/.316 OBP/.619 OPS  Against LHP – .167 BA/.333 OBP/ .500 OPS
  • Jake Marisnick – Against RHP – .172 BA/.197 OBP/.494 OPS  Against LHP – .146 BA/.163 OBP/ .455 OPS

Hitters hitting as expected

  • George Springer – Against RHP – .272 BA/.347 OBP/.798 OPS  Against LHP – .333 BA/.385 OBP/ 1.022 OPS
  • Yuli Gurriel         –  Against RHP – .281 BA/.307 OBP/.666 OPS  Against LHP – .310 BA/.333 OBP/ .747 OPS
  • Carlos Correa     –  Against RHP – .250 BA/.321 OBP/.790 OPS  Against LHP – .302 BA/.415 OBP/ .868 OPS
  • Max Stassi          –  Against RHP – .177 BA/.271 OBP/.675 OPS  Against LHP – .400 BA/.442 OBP/ 1.067 OPS

Lonely switch hitting outlier

  • Marwin Gonzalez – Against RHP – .214 BA/.302 OBP/.646 OPS  Against LHP – .276 BA/.306 OBP/ .703 OPS

Comments and Thoughts

  • OK, some of this is based on very small samples (like Fisher and Kemp batting against lefties) – still it is interesting even if those guys end up on the other side
  • It is hard to call Marisnick’s numbers “better” against righties…
  • Carlos Correa has better numbers against lefties, but little power as he has hit only 1 HR in 50 ABs against lefties
  • Marwin G has a reputation for being a better left-handed hitter, but that is not the case this season and his poor hitting against righties in the majority of his ABs this season have dragged his overall numbers down far below 2017
  • If you think the Astros are facing more lefties than ever, well you would be right to this point in the season. Last year 25% of their ABs were against lefties, while this season that number is up to 29% of their ABs (not counting Wednesday night against Wade Leblanc and Thursday night against Cole Hamels)
  • If you think the Astros hit particularly poorly against lefties, well you would be wrong. They are 2nd in runs scored (90), and BA (.272), and 4th in OBP (.336) and OPS (.777) in the AL against lefties for the season.
  • The Astros are down a bit against righties this season as they were number one in all of baseball in most categories in 2017 against RHPs. This season in the AL, they are 4th in runs scored (212), 8th in BA (.249), 5th in OBP (.323) and 7th in OPS (.730). This would be a big reason for their very inconsistent offense on the season as in 70% of the games they are pretty mediocre.

So, any thoughts from your side? Did a lot of the hitters concentrate on improving one side of their game against those with the same hand and fell on the other side? Is it too early to be a trend? Are they going the other way against the same-handed pitchers while over-trying to jerk balls against the pitchers they should be dominating? Will this fix itself during the season?

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164 comments on “Through the looking glass: What’s left is right, what’s right is left for Astros

  1. Sipp did come through. It was nice to be right for a change. A win is a win for the good guys. Why do they keep sending Marisnick out there? Two more K’s tonight. Couldn’t even get a bunt down. Maybe a six man rotation needed to give some of these guys a rest or maybe a spot start for McHugh or Peacock. Seems they are not a sharp as they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Astros won a game Saturday night in which their best player committed a really bad error, they hit into 3 double plays, their pitchers walked 10 batters and hit five more batters.
    Max Stassi hit a home run and received 180 pitches.
    Baseball is crazy!
    Seattle finally lost and Oakland lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And then with 2 outs and nobody on in the 2nd inning the Astros put up 4 runs to take a nice 6-0 lead. Keep it up guys – bury these Rangers.

    Like

  4. Oh good LORD!! What on earth is wrong with Keuchel!!! JEEZE…..hitting another batter!! AND…..his pitch count has EXPLODED!!! We have watched two embarrassing pitchers in two days. This is ridiculous something is VERY wrong with Dallas Keuchel. You used Peacock last night, McHugh on Friday…….who pray tell are you gonna put in to finish this awful start from Keuchel?????

    Like

  5. This story about the player drinking a beer is verging on unprofessionalism from this broadcaster. There’s a game going on and he’s constantly trying to put this story over.

    That’s a Rangers broadcaster for you though. Who is this guy?!

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      • I’m watching the Astros broadcast – but looking at the list of Rangers TV broadcasters
        – Don’t think it is Dave Raymond who used to broadcast here and is professional
        – It could be either Tom Grieve or CJ Nitkowski doing color.
        I’m guessing it is Nitkowski

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      • He was talking about a player for the Rangers in 1985 drinking a beer in the clubhouse and getting caught by Bobby valentine. I think it was indeed Grieve. He spent the better part of an inning talking about it and whenever the subject got changed, he changed it back. The other dude kept trying to talk about the game but Grieve kept going on about it and said that he wasn’t going to give the name on air but that he “didn’t deserve the anonymity “ and that if anyone listening wanted the player’s name, they “know where to find me”.

        It started off as a “funny” story but it turned into airing dirty laundry

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    • Billy…..you need to listen to 790a.m. the radio guys are sooo much better to listen to, besides the rangers television guys.

      Like

    • AJ earning his pay – I’ve never seen a manager protest a non-balk call and get it called but it was absolutely a balk as the guy never paused.

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    • It looked like 1st base ump had called “safe” – no swing on Gattis and started walking toward home plate umpire.

      Can you imagine what would have happened if he called strike 3 on Gattis and then ruled a balk. The entire Rangers bench would have been ejected.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The bullpen gave up 1 run in 3.2 innings pitched today. What is everybody complaining about?
    Keuchel needs a rest. He just has nothing on the ball. It floats in there.
    Honestly, that’s the first time I have ever seen a manager score the winning run from the dugout. Give Hinch the win and give Gurriel and Rondon the save.
    While I sit in my air conditioned living room, my team went into the dungeon of hell and swept four games and then gets a day off. I cannot be more proud of them. They fought like crazy and overcame a ton of weirdness to sweep that series! Get the heck out of that oven and go someplace cool.
    Oh yeah, take that silver boot with you. Drink something refreshing out of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Not really complaining but concerned that we’re over working the Bull Pen like we did last year. It does seem like it’s rare when we get a clean inning. There always seems to be too much drama when the BP comes in.
      On the positive side accolades to our bats as it looks like they are coming around and yes the BP did their job today. The only person that is more happier than any of us about beating the Rangers is Becky. Glad the ‘Stros could make hers and our days. Hopefully, we’re embarking on a long and prosperous winning streak.

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  7. On the postgame Keuchel was in full denial mode. Said most of the hits had exit velo under 90mph. He has had some bad luck this year on some weakly hit balls but today was not one of them. Anytime you give up 13 hits to get 13 outs its not bad luck. Lefties wore him out and I think 6 of the hits came with 2 strikes. He’s starting to remind me of Matt Harvey of the Mets and is becoming a legend in his own mind. His location today was awful and he was lucky nothing sailed out of the park. The Rangers probably did him a favor by not starting Gallo. Charlie was historically awful Saturday night but at least admitted he sucked and was going to go out and fix the problem. Dallas seems to be unwilling to cope with being the weakest link in the rotation. Like Billy said, he needs to go on the DL for bruised ego.

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  8. I hope I never have to sit through another 2 games like this again.
    Two days in a row our pitcher and the arlington little league pitchers were absolutely horrible. I had a long distant phone call from one of my cousin’s to tell me her mother passed away, and I didn’t see the balk call debacle. I’m not as concerned about Charlie as I am Dallas. I agree with any of you who thinks he needs a rest for a few weeks. He’s not fooling anyone right now….and who knows a rest might let him work on things that need attention. Boy…..they are kinda like they were after the series with the Indians, bullpen is limping badly going into the A’s. Best news ever…..Manea won’t be pitching one of those games.
    Update on Tanner….he actually went HOME this afternoon!!! I can’t thank you all enough for lifting Tanner in prayer. He’s a special young man who has beat one health problem after another over his short life. Glad the boys have a day off, they ALL need it!! Becky⚾

    Liked by 3 people

  9. So much for my theory about starting Keuchel against the other team’s #5.
    Or did the fact that the Astros shelled the Ranger’s worst starter actually allow them to win the game that Keuchel would have lost against a decent starter.
    East Coast writers probably think Boone or Cora should be manager of the year, but any unbiased person would have to choose Scott Servais. Who saw this coming from Seattle? Especially with the players they have lost.
    The Astros are getting some pretty good starting pitching from their minor leaguers from Low A to AAA.
    Speaking of minor leaguers, the Astros signed 28 undrafted players to minor league deals today. That is in the Transactions section of their web site.

    Like

    • The Mariners are doing it with 1/2 their bullpen on the DL and Cano gone for most or the season. But when you win a ton of 1 run games, you can make up some games on the others in the division.

      Like

  10. Kyle Tucker went downtown in the first inning for Fresno tonight. Then he walked in the third inning before Davis, Reed and Fisher went back to back to back against the OKC Dodger’s starting pitcher just now.

    Like

  11. In listening and reading comments from the umpires, I did not know that had Kela said “This is my windup position”, he could have quick pitched without penalty. That was the delay in the call because he did not notify any umpire of such. That is a rule that I have never heard. Baseball is such a rare game that you can be a fan for 50 + years and still learn something every game.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. From well before the first pitch of the season, I have been predicting that DK would be the least effective pitcher in the rotation, who racked up the highest ERA, WHIP, BAA, and the worst win-loss record. Of course, I also predicted he would spend half the year on the DL.

    As unpleasant as most of his starts- and especially the last two – have been, however, I am left in a quandary. Unless he goes on the DL, what are we going to do with/concerning him? He is, at this stage, basically performing at a Roberto Hernandez level. But he isn’t going to AAA. And he is at the lowest value he’s had since 2014, so trading him now would look like – and net what you get from – a fire sale.

    And who do we really have who would be significantly better as a fifth starter? The last time Colin McHugh was a full-time starter [2016], he had a 4.34 ERA, a 1.4o8 WHIP, and an 8.6 k/9. Brad Peacock did better in 21 starts last year, so maybe – but do we really want to give up that critical a bullpen piece, with no one in AAA ready [Armenteros] or healthy enough [Paulino, Martes] to come up and fill that slot? I think we are stuck with Mr. Keuchel – and a prayer for a lot of balks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to agree with you. Most of his pitches are just flat and seem to have nothing on them. He could be a “soft tosser” if his curve and change up were good but they aren’t. He gives up a lot of “soft contact” hits but I believe that the opposing batters have plenty of time to react to his pitches. I would think a pitching make-over is in order if he is to continue as a starter. Maybe similar to Bob Knepper. Over his history he has pretty much been an up and down pitcher. He’s had 4 years of over 4.50 ERA and 3 at below 3.00. There’s nothing in between. I would suggest replacing him with McHugh or Peacock. Let him go work out his issues. I doubt that there will be a big, long term contract waiting for him at seasons end. I sure wouldn’t go there.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. -Yuli Gurriel made a great reaction play on a line drive and stepped on the bag for a DP that turned out to be a huge play in the game.
    – The Astros have won all the games Carlos Correa missed with his minor injury.
    -Quietly, the Astros team batting average of .260 has climbed to fifth highest in baseball and only four percentage points behind the leaders, who are at .264.
    -The Cubs, Mets, Yankees and Twins have only played 62 Games. The Rangers have played 68, while the Astros, Padres and Tigers have played 67.
    -Corpus Christi got five doubles in the seventh inning of their game last night.

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  14. We are indeed in a quandary regarding Keuchel’s use so why not treat him like the fifth starter he is and skip his turns when off days come up and push him back as far as possible after the AS game? He’ll have to pitch next Saturday but then an off day falls on his next scheduled start. The next scheduled off day would be July 1 with him scheduled to pitch June 30. That might be a chance to give McHugh or Peacock a spot start with Keuchel held in reserve as the long man.

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  15. I had a good Sunday. Internet was out island wide. I went to the beach, ate Wahoo and drank too much Sauvignon Blanc. Keauchel can’t miss bats. I love Tony Kemp and the enthusiasm he brings. But he can’t play the outfield with a second baseman’s arm. Yuli is awakening. I don’t care how it happens, but when you win a 4 games series against anyone, it’s a good thing. The rotation had to regress. But we’ve figured out a way to win games. Maybe time for some ten day DL’s. Maybe we’ll see if we’ve got anyone in Fresno that can pitch. Our mediocre team is much better than mediocre. Giles. No longer the closer? Jake still can’t hit. 40 years ago I could run and catch fly balls. I could not hit though. I wish the game was what it was in the 70’s. I might have had a money job..

    Liked by 1 person

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