The Astros were a very good team in 2018. But there were areas that they excelled in 2017 when they were the team that won the whole enchilada that they need to improve upon heading into 2019.
They were not bad at scoring in 2018 when they scored 4.92 runs/game, which was good for 5th in the AL and sixth in the majors. But this was a big step down from 2017 when they led all of baseball with 5.53 runs/game. The team that led all of baseball in runs scored in 2018? The Boston Red Sox (5.41 runs/game) who just happened to send the Astros home before the World Series.
Extra Base Hits
The Astros were down in each extra base category in 2018 from 2017 — in doubles (346 down to 278), triples (20 down to 18) and home runs (238 down to 205). They were hitting .63 less XBHs per game and this was a key factor in their offense being down for the season.
In 2017, the Astros hit .282 BA/ .380 OBP/ .871 OPS with runners in scoring position and two outs. This resulted in 290 runs scored, which was tops in the majors.
In 2018, in the same situations the Astros hit .242 BA/ .332 OBP/ .762 OPS. This resulted in 199 runs scored for 18th in the majors.
Another area that handicapped the team’s offense badly.
Truth in advertising here – your loyal scribe was struggling to find a place requiring improvement for the pitching, which was the strength of the club in 2018. Anyways, the Astros had a save percentage in 2018 that was slightly above that of 2017, but they went from fourth in the majors to 8th in the majors in save percentage. This is an area where improvement ends up directly in more wins.
In 2017, the Astros catchers (Mostly Brian McCann and Evan Gattis) were first or second in the majors in runs scored (87), HRs (33) and RBIs (103). In 2018, the 66 runs 19 HRs and 62 RBIs by mostly Max Stassi, Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado ranked them 8th, 10th and 21st respectively.
In 2017 the Astros SSs (mostly Carlos Correa with some Marwin Gonzalez tossed in there) led the majors with a .314 BA .390 OBP .907 OPS and 112 RBIs and were 2nd with 111 runs and 3rd with 27 HRs. In 2018, with again mostly Carlos Correa and MarGo, the SS spot was much worse: .231 BA (28th), .316 OBP (17th), .706 OPS (19th), 84 runs (16th), 21 HRs (10th) 87 RBIs (8th).
There are other areas that require improvement, but a shot in the arm at these two spots would be a big lift to the offense.
So… what do you believe requires improvement as the team shifts towards 2019?