There is a lot less than usual to complain about with the Astros right now, so here are just some random questions to chew on and/or ponder.
1) Did Justin Verlander have a shot at a 25 win season except for his team’s non-support?
Growing up, the Great White Whale for pitcher’s wins in a season was 30 wins, which Denny McLain caught with his 31 win season in 1968 for the Tigers. These days with 5 man rotations and pitchers maxing out at 35 starts in a season, 25 wins seems to be a very difficult goal and 30 wins as archaic as ball parks without lights. There has not been a pitcher with 25 or more wins since Bob Welch reeled in 27 wins for the A’s back in 1990. And I thought he was too busy cranking out pop hits after leaving Fleetwood Mac. Before that it was Steve Stone (yes that Steve Stone WGN fans) with 25 wins in 1980. Since 1990, the most wins in a season has been 24 by John Smoltz (1996), Randy Johnson (2002) and….. Justin Verlander (2011).
JV has 9 wins with one more start left in the first half of the season, but it is not difficult to squint at the 2 losses and the 5 no decisions he has suffered and see a few more wins with just a little support. His 2 losses were both 6 innings with one earned run allowed. His no decisions include an eight inning – no runs allowed start, eight innings – one run allowed, 6.2 innings – one run allowed, and 6 innings – 2 runs allowed. And before you start talking about how his offense saved his bad pitching bacon in some of his wins, his “worst” start in a win was 6 innings – 3 runs.
It is not far fetched to say he could easily be 12-0 or 13-0 at this point in the season. Of course, all of this points to how pointless it is to value wins in looking at pitchers. How many wins do you think JV will finish with this season? Did his teammates cost him a huge win total in 2018?
In a recent mlbtraderumors live Q&A – one of the posters asked the host if he would deal Tucker for Realmuto (the Marlins fine catcher) straight up. The host liked the trade. How about you?
Realmuto is a 27-year-old catcher who is just entering his prime and is one of the best out there. He is throwing out 42% of runners and currently is hitting .297/. 355/.879 with 9 HRs and 27 RBIs. He would cost about $2 million for the rest of this season, but would only have two arbitration years to go, which would undoubtedly be tied to fairly large raises and free agency heading into 2021.
Tucker is a 21 y.o. who is tearing up AAA (.303/.375/.881 with 10 HR and 56 RBIs with 12 SBs) and is considered a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He obviously plays at an easier position in the OF vs. a catcher. Depending on when he gets called up – Tucker would be under team control including arbitration for between 6 or 7 years.
While Realmuto is at the more “skilled” position, the years of control have to weigh heavily in Tucker’s favor especially with Max Stassi‘s solid season. Any chance you would go for this? Or any chance the team would?
3) If the Astros do not hit the 3 million mark in attendance is that a disappointment?
Coming off their first World Series win in history, the idea of an immediate jump to the 3 million mark was considered a reasonable goal – something the team last reached in 2006 and 2007 after their previous WS appearance in 2005.
But note the following:
- The Astros were already at 2.8 million attendance when they increased 9% to 3 million back in ’06.
- The Astros drew 2.4 million last season and are on a pace for a little under 2.9 million currently. That is a 20% increase in attendance.
- They are swimming upstream – baseball attendance on a whole has been on a decline and is down approximately 6% this season
- They are currently 3rd in AL attendance after finishing 6th in 2017. The Astros are drawing about 35,600 per game as opposed to the Angels (36,900 per game) and the Yankees (42,150).
- Note that the Astros are drawing to approx. 86% of stadium capacity, while the Angels are at 82% and the Yanks at 77%.
It would be nice if the Astros bumped that attendance up over the course of a contending summer, but they might not quite get to 3 million this season. Is that a disappointment?
One of the keys to the Astros huge offense in 2017 was the ability to flip the lineup. With a tail end of the lineup manned by Jake Marisnick and Derek Fisher in early 2018, the only thing that was flipped was a wall that flipped up and put an end to all rallies.
Since Kemp came up on May 15th and added his .313 BA / .383 OBP / .805 OPS to the back end of the lineup the Astros offense has gone from 4.9 runs per game to 5.59 runs per game. But much more importantly they have done a much better job of consistently scoring. Before Tony came up in the first 44 games of the season, the Astros were shut out 4 times and were held to one run a shocking 9 times! In the 32 games since his call-up, they have not been shut out and have been held to one run only two times. The Astros are 21-8 in games Kemp plays in and 21-6 in games he starts.
Since around the same time that Kemp came up, Gattis has been on fire. In the 29 games, he has played in since May 15th he has 11 HRs and 35 RBIs. In that time, the Astros are 12-2 in games Gattis plays in and has an RBI and 8-7 in games he plays in and has no RBI. Gattis’ RBIs have been critical in those 12 wins – often the difference in the game or the RBIs that kick-started the offense.
The Astros were really struggling in the first month and a half with only the catcher spot hitting towards the end of the lineup. Gattis and Kemp have really solidified the back end and with Marwin Gonzalez getting hot in June, the team looks a lot more like 2017 lately.
Who has been more important to the Astros resurgence the last 5 weeks…Gattis or Kemp?
Are there any questions you want to add to the pool here today?