Verlander, Springer lead ChipalattAwards for Mapril 2019


The first ChipalattAwards for 2019 cover the four games played at Tampa in March, plus the 26 games played in April. Thus the Mapril awards. The Astros fell into a 4 1/2 game hole in the division after the first week but ended the month at 18-12 and one game ahead of the Mariners for the AL West lead and two games behind the Rays for the best record in the AL.

There were a number of solid choices for the awards this month, so let’s go ahead and make our reveal.

Starting Pitcher of the Month. Justin Verlander. The Astros ace mostly pitched like one in compiling a 4-1 record, where his only loss was a tough-luck 1-0 defeat at Minnesota. He led the starters in ERA (2.45), IP (44) and WHIP (0.864) while putting up a solid 10.8 Ks/ 9 IP.

Runner-up. Wade Miley. The new addition to the starting rotation was very good with a 3.24 ERA on the month. His record was only 1-2, but the team was 4-2 in his starts through April as they scored only 2 runs total in his two losses (3-1 and 2-1) and they scored late in his three no-decisions. So far he looks like a left-handed bargain at $4.5 million for 2019.

Everyday Player of the Month. George Springer. His .274 BA was not eyepopping, but his .927 OPS was top notch and he did what he was supposed to do as a run producer. Through April he scored 21 runs, had 7 doubles and 9 HRs and a team-leading 24 RBIs. He was helped by an end of the lineup that was getting on base, but he was taking advantage of those situations and was in the middle of many of the team’s rallies.

Runner-up. Michael Brantley. Brantley was as good as advertised after joining the Astros from the Indians, posting a sparkling slash (.331 BA/.380 OBP/.897 OPS) out of the cleanup spot. He scored 16 runs, had 7 doubles, 5 HRs and 18 RBIs and who knows how that would look if Jose Altuve was having a normal start in front of him. Brantley continued his big-time hitting in May, especially a nutty weekend in Monterrey.

Relief Pitcher of the Month.  Ryan Pressly. In 11 appearances, he has 1 win, 2 saves and has an ERA of 0.00 in 12.1 IPs. He has not walked anyone this season and had a microscopic WHIP of 0.405. He has continued his dominance in May and now between 2018 and 2019 holds the longest scoreless streak (33 IP and counting) in team history, unseating the great Roy Oswalt. Even the pointy head spin counters in the front office could not have foreseen his dominance since his trade at the deadline last season.

Runner-up. Roberto Osuna. If someone wanted to give this award to Osuna (2-0 and 7 of 7 in save opportunities) instead of Pressly they would have a good argument. Osuna does have one run against him this month (0.73 ERA), but he was better at preventing inherited runners from scoring (stranded the two runners he did inherit, while Pressly allowed 2 of 3 inherited runners to score). Like Pressly he has not allowed a walk on the month and ended April with an even better WHIP of 0.243. Other teams trailing late against the Astros are falling into a black hole of hopelessness……

Biggest Surprise (Positive). Wade Miley.  See discussion above, but he came in as a probable #4 or 5 in the rotation and has performed as a solid #2 or 3.

Runner-up. Josh Reddick. Reddick was one of the bigger disappointments in 2018 as he experienced an approx. 70 pt drop in batting average and a 130 pt drop in OPS. He has been one of the team’s top hitters in 2019 with a .352 BA / .404 OBP/ .888 OPS slash through April.

Biggest Surprise (Negative). Max Stassi. Yes, he is only the backup catcher, but he is getting into about a 1/3 of the games and he has stunk at the plate (.103 BA/ .133 OBP/ .340 OPS slash) through April. He had a couple hits in Monterrey (who didn’t) but this has to be a spot where the front office may be thinking about an upgrade.

Runner-up. Josh James. Probably too much was expected of the young man after his strong end to 2018 and after missing a big chunk of spring training. In a bullpen that has been as stingy as Ebenezer Scrooge (before his “bad dream” night), James has been as generous as Ebenezer Scrooge (after meeting the past, present and future ghosts). Through April, he had an ugly 7.36 ERA and the last seat in the bullpen. He seemed to have stopped the bleeding with two scoreless outings in his latest appearances, and with his arm talent, the hope is that he will return to the dominance he showed last season.

The surprising stat award. Tyler White with 0 RBIs through April. This despite the fact 14 games in he had a solid .297 / .435 / .786 slash. This is a guy who is hitting .286 BA / .385 OBP .718 OPS with men on base. Oh…..with runners in scoring position, he is hitting .154 BA / .294 OBP/ .448 OPS. Maybe we found the problem.

The looking over his shoulder award. Tony Kemp. Even with his dramatic walk-off HR Tony is slashing a puny .186 BA/ .265 OBP/ .591 OPS. There is some shmo named Yordan Alvarez slashing .402/ .496/ 1.372 at AAA. Yes, Jeff Luhnow referenced Kyle Tucker when he said that folks should not expect AAA studs to hit the ground running in the majors, but at some point if someone/anyone gets an infected hangnail, maternity leave or whatever, there will be an opportunity for this kid (not currently on the 40 man – but there is room).  And he is the kind of talent who might take advantage of the chance that Tucker failed to grab last season.

Bottom line, do you agree with these awards?

Want to propose awards of your own?

65 comments on “Verlander, Springer lead ChipalattAwards for Mapril 2019

  1. When was the last time we had a catcher who could hit homeruns! I was very vocal when Luhnow signed him, but Cole and Verlander really like him behind the plate. Best money spent over the winter:
    Signing Michael Brantley
    Signing Chirinos
    Extending Verlander
    Extending Bregman
    Extending Presley
    Need to offer Springer an extension

    Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I thought that Miley might be the diamond in the rough and so far, so good. He’s performing better than Cole who seems to be missing something. I just don’t think Cole will be worth the money that he will be asking for. Miley would be a better investment IMO.
        Good come from behind win last night. Chirinos was the man and the bull pen came through again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. With these baseballs MLB is using, Verlander and Cole will continue to give up home runs. For weeks now those two have consistently been giving up HRs on high fastballs because they insist on not changing their game. They want to throw high fastballs by hitters.
    Batters are willing to wait for what they know is coming. and a high fastball is coming.
    I cannot repeat what Verlander said about the new baseballs MLB is using this year. At least, not on this blog.
    The reason these two guys can get away with it is simple. The Astros have started out-homering the competition.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yordan Alvarez has zero triples and zero stolen bases. He needs to work out of this slump and figure things out before the Astros can even think about a promotion.

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    • I wrote a comment on the Alvarez situation earlier this morning, but I mistakenly put it on Dan’s last post. As I know nothing about copying and pasting, that’s where it will remain!. In my opinion anyway, there is no real good place on the ML squad to put him right now.

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      • Here it is….

        From daveb

        Plenty of clamoring for Álvarez on the various sites right now. But what does he do if he comes?
        We’ve not had such a solid starting outfield in many years. And no way Brantley is giving way in left to be our DH as some suggest, giving his job to an inexperienced defensive liability. Heck, Brantley is a finalist for club MVP YTD.
        Yuli is playing a defensive first base that Alvarez will never approach. And he’ll end up hitting enough. As it is, we’ve got a very formidable line up with him and Altuve not hitting.
        So that leaves the DH role for Álvarez. Do we want to let White or Kemp go so this guy 21 year old kid can sit on the bench all night in between at bats?
        Álvarez will get his shot, probably when someone is inevitably injured, as Dan suggests. But there is no rush today.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never pushed for Alvarez to be called up. His time with the Astros has not yet arrived. This morning’s comment about his triples was tongue in cheek.
    When looking up Yordan’s stats, I noticed Ty France’s stats. France is the only guy with a higher BA in the PCL and he was called up a week or so ago and has numbers in MLB like Kyle Tucker had to start his career last year. The jump from AAA to the majors is huge and is magnified now that AAA is using the major league baseball but doesn’t have any major leaguers pitching that ball.
    I’m more convinced now than ever that there is an ocean between AAA pitching and major league pitching. In the history of baseball, has a team ever sent a pitcher from the majors to AAA because he was just pitching too well to keep in the majors?
    Don’t answer that! There is the 1963 Mets and the 2012 Astros, so, it’s possible it might have happened.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The last guy I remember having a seamless transition from AAA to the bigs was Altuve.
      Of coarse, I don’t follow any other teams so I’ve probably missed some.

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    • OP, your remarks did not prompt my comments. It was mostly the folks over at CFB. My main focus on not rushing Alvarez is that we’ve got an excellent defensive club right now. He’d water it down. And no 21 year old kid should be asked be the DH unless it’s already determined to be his career path. Additionally, his OPS in Fresno was a solid but unremarkable .801 last year. Let’s see if he goes back in that direction in the coming weeks. We’ve got the luxury of not needing to bring him up.

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  5. An interesting article / interview with Dallas Keuchel –
    https://sports.yahoo.com/dallas-keuchel-knows-what-hes-worth-and-will-not-settle-035643666.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw

    I found the writer’s writing style a bit off-putting – don’t know why. It is hard to say where to fall on this, not knowing what offers Keuchel turned down. He has a certain (unspoken) value on himself that he is not willing to sway from. Is that an overblown value based on his age, his descending velocity, his slightly dipping performance, his injury history? No way of knowing. Does his value of himself include a descending number based on the baseball calendar melting away? He basically says he is doing this for the good of the game. Is that true?
    No matter how you feel about him, he led this team back from the darkness to relevancy and eventually was an important part of our championship season. Is there value there? Should be some you would think.

    Like

    • Reading this article earlier today reminded me that I read somewhere during the offseason that Keuchel was going to have trouble in the market because he is very “Hollywood”.
      I took that to mean he sees himself as way more important than he really is.
      The content in the Yahoo piece gives off the same vibe. The burden of carrying the weight of all the free agents to come must be huge to bear. I like the picture painted of the sacrificial lamb sitting by the golf course and ocean in California, lamenting the sacrifice he is making for the other starving ballplayers of today and tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I worked for a high end hotel company for many years. When I’d share our room rates over casual conversation with friends, they’d express shock at what people would pay for a hotel room. We charged what people would pay.
        But when we’d hit a recession, many of those same spenders would move down a notch or two to a Hyatt or a Sheraton. Their expense accounts got squeezed. And then we’d have to lower our rates. Point is that the consumer ultimately determines the price of a commodity. Not the seller. Keuchel has it backwards. I’m pretty sure he could have gotten 3 years in the 60 million range early on in the winter and had a chance to pitch his way to one more significant contract in 2021 or 2022. Heck, he turned down 90 with us. And I’m glad.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Not sure what to make of this. Either
      a) DK thinks he is the cat’s meow and he’s entitled to whatever price he deems he is worth or
      b) He’s making the principled argument that he’s in it for the betterment of all the players (present and future) and will not budge from his stance.
      Either way, considering how much he’s made, I just don’t like the attitude and I would not want him here. His ego is right where it belongs…California.
      (Beautiful state with some great people and a super lifestyle but highly overrated in total).

      Liked by 2 people

  6. An interesting story is happening in Toronto where Kyle Tucker – oops Vlad Guererro Jr was called up after tearing up the minors.
    Last season at 19 years old he tore through 4 minor league levels (rookie up to AAA) with a combined .381 BA/.437 OBP / 1.073 OPS slash.
    This season at 20 y.o. he started at A+ after recovering from an injury and then he went to AAA and responded with a robust .367 BA/ .424 OBP/ 1.124 OPS and the Blue Jays were being made fun of for holding him down to make sure they got another year of control. Well he was brought up and after 9 games he is hitting .152/.243/.425. So now they are wondering whether they should be concerned about him….. sounds familiar……

    Liked by 2 people

  7. In the meantime, with no agenda at all except amazement, I point out that Yordan Alvarez already has 38 runs batted in this year. He has only played in 28 games. He has 15 more RBIs than strikeouts. I know, it’s AAA. I know the ball is juiced. I know, Vlad is the perfect example of why there is no hurry to bring him up. But 38 RBIs – and slashing .405/.500/1.401 after 118 plate appearances? Somebody tell me I shouldn’t be smiling about that!

    Meanwhile, another good prospect, Corbin Martin [1.40 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 24Ks in 19 IP], will be toing the bump for the Express tonight!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Royals just hit a grand slam………I’m not kidding people, we *N E E D* another pitcher. This patchwork of a rotation ain’t gonna cut it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky, I tend to agree with you. We need another pitcher. I don’t know if McHugh is tipping pitches or what but it’s obvious he’s not the answer we need right now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is so weirdly fascinating. In his first 6 games this season, he had one start allowing 5 runs, 3 allowing 6 runs and 2 allowing 0 runs. After those 6 games he had an 8.28 ERA (that Collin McHugh would look down on). Since then he had 2 decent starts and the no-no and now has a below average 5.48 ERA.
      Who would have thought that of the guys he pitched with in the Astros rotation – Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh – he would be the only one with a no-no?
      Who would have thought that the Astros with a fine history of 11 no-nos would have Mike Fiers as the only one to pitch one in the AL?
      Who would have thought that Mike Fiers would have 162 starts in the majors with 2 complete games and both complete games would be no-hitters?
      Who would have thought a guy with a career ERA over 4 and a W-L% just under 50% would be one of 35 guys with multiple no-nos?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Did anyone else watch the highlights? Fiers got a number of strikeouts on fastballs 89-91 mph on the gun and over the middle of the plate. He must have been awfully deceptive to achieve that.

      Like

  9. Uh, excuse me but the story about the game mentioned the scoreless ninth was pitched by White. This was a typo, right? I’ve known from the start we had pitching issues, but this was just a print boo-boo, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw that too Diane. One walk, no hits, and a K. What a fantastic performance. Could this guy soon be replacing Osuna as our closer?

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  10. One thing I can say about last night. For what seems like the thousandth time this season, the Astros have a chance to switch momentum to their side as they get a runner in scoring position with nobody out.
    Soler homered in the top of the second and Brantley led off the bottom half with a double. By the time the inning is over the next five batters have had a chance to get him home to tie the game or take a lead and they can’t do it. Marisnick finishes the inning by looking like a rookie with the bases loaded and cannot even get a decent swing at three straight pitches in the zone.
    In the next half inning McHugh crashes. and the night becomes one Astros farce after another.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I refer to my last 6 posts on CM, I think some folks were still referring to him as a decent SP ??? 2 innings middle relief and pray!

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    • Kevin, yes, I will acknowledge your last 6 posts. You might be right. But he’s also been a mostly reliable starting pitcher for us over the years. And his first four starts were great, so that’s why a tired arm comes to mind. He’ll get a few more shots at sorting out his issues. But if he keeps getting bombed, then a change will be made relatively soon.

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    • Totally recognize that Kevin – I’m just hopeful it is something that can be quickly corrected – maybe he is tipping pitches or maybe he has some kind of mechanical mix-up. But if he can’t turn it around you definitely have an “I told you so” over me.

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  12. Yeah, putting the pressure on the other guys early is so important. We have not been very good at that. I wonder if Collin is arm weary. If so, then that’s not great for us to have a #3 starter with that affliction. It also might mean the 13th pitcher is coming soon and Tubby or Tony could be going.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Is 30 year old Danny Duffy a possible candidate for being a mid-season SP pickup? He’s got a good ERA [3.06], a mediocre WHIP [1.36], a low strikeout rate, but in a juiced-ball season, has given up only 2 HRs [albeit in only 17.2 IP]. He sure pitched well in MMP last night.

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  14. I think Luhnow will work with what he’s got on the ML roster and at RR until the deadline nears and then he’ll go after a big arm for the stretch run and post season.

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  15. Haven’t been able to comment lately but have enjoyed reading and following. The broadcasters last night commented on McHugh’s lack of fastball command and I think therein lies the problem. Without overpowering velocity locating the fastball is critical. When he fails he relies too much on the slider which reminds me of McCullers relying too much on his curve ball when he couldn’t command the fastball. In the bullpen last year McHugh had higher velocity which let him throw the fastball up in the zone and the slider down. It was a terrific combination. I almost think he needs to go back to the bullpen to shore up our worrisome long relief situation but then who goes into the rotation? Perhaps its time to consider an unspectacular innings eater like James Shields for the rotation and put Collin back in the pen. I’m concerned that with our 12 man pitching staff we are going to wear out our heretofore invincible back end by pitching Pressly and Osuna in multiple inning outings.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am concerned about Altuve, not the SPs. He’s just not himself and something is amiss. There are whispers that he’s still not 100% healthy. He’s not running right and not apt to steal bases. Hinch has made remarks that he wants to “rest his legs” and, again, something is not right.

    Regardless, we ALL know he’s not a .240 hitter, and how important he is to the lineup and fan base. Our vast depth at SP will save our bacon; but we NEED A healthy Altuve to bring home another title. (And I’d expect we get another CA at the trade deadline, not a SP.)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Just my 2 cents on Altuve. If you scrub stats he is still close to career exit velo (actually a little above career), he is still barreling balls and altogether his stats don’t look a lot different than years past.

    What is down is his k rate on breaking balls, especially the slider and his BABIP is waaaay down. He is also hitting way more popups than ever before, especially infield popups, and a lot more roll- over grounders.

    When you scrub the advanced stats it is pretty clear what has changed this year. Consider this, in 2017 he hit .343 with a launch angle of 9.1. His career average LA through 2018 was about 10. In 2019 his launch angle is 15.3, almost 25% above league average.

    Altuve’s exit velo is in the 33rd percentile. High LA leads to more HRs, but also more popups, fly outs and roll- over grounders.

    Highest % outs on balls in play = popup
    2nd highest % = fly ball
    3rd highest % = ground ball
    4th highest % = line drive

    Bottom line is that you can’t get high average with high launch angle and average exit velo. The only thing that goes down with increased LA is line drives, and line drives are the biggest contributor to BA. For comparison Yelich has exit velo of 94.3 (compared to 87.9 for JA) and launch angle of 13.3. With the velo difference Yelich can still mishit a ball and have it leave the park, while the lower LA decreases popups and rollovers.

    So why is he not hitting breaking balls off the plate? Primarily because his pull rate is up 25% to over 50%. Instead of hitting the pitch where it is pitched he is trying to pull it, leading him to pull off of outside pitches.

    Altuve, whether intentionally or unintentionally is trying to hit home runs. The stats don’t lie. As a result his BA is suffering.

    Advanced stats can be found at:

    https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/jose-altuve-514888?stats=statcast-r-hitting-mlb

    As a disclaimer, this is all my opinion.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I was thinking a bit more about the Fiers no hitter and I feel happy about the guy. I know he was up and down pitching for us, but in the WS year in the period when all the other starters were missing time and they needed him the most he pitched the best for us. I’ll always remember that.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Good win for the good guys. Strong start by Peacock that he needed and the team needed. Glad James got a chance for a couple cleanup innings and the guys scored early and often

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What does the Astros’ front office do about Colin McHugh? Take him out of the rotation? If so, do they replace him, in the rotation, with someone on the team now, someone in the minors (who), or trade for someone (who)? Keep in mind that they will be adding a pitcher soon to get 13 pitchers on the 25 man roster.

    Myself, I have no strong opinion right now. I do feel McHugh needs to be skipped so he can right the ship.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Here is my thinking on McHugh and I preach a little (but not infinite)patience.
    – We’ve just seem Brad Peacock rebound from a 3.2 IP 7 Run stinker with a 7 IP 0 ER effort
    – To date here is what McHugh has given us:

    5 IP 2 ER
    6 IP 1 ER
    6 IP 2 ER
    6 IP 0 ER
    3.1 IP 9 ER
    5.2 IP 3 ER
    6 IP 4 ER
    3 IP 8 ER

    – I see 2 stinkers, 4 good to very good starts and 2 average/winnable starts
    – I’m willing to give the guy a chance or two to work out whatever problems he had in those two stinkers and see if he can get back to what he was doing in those first 4 games of the season. He’s been 57-34 since being picked up from the scrapheap by the Astros – I think we owe him a few weeks of patience.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I heard Peacock say he pitched out of the wind up for the first time since 2016 last night. He said Strom suggested it……….I like the result! Brad has pitched out of the stretch for the last few years. The Arlington little league comes in today, don’t sleep on these guys, they are right behind us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well they will be coming in without Delino Deshields Jr, who was just sent down to the minors. He has been up and down performance-wise and with Hunter Pence performing well they are trying to see if they can get him to go down and work on fixing himself. They don’t have a true CF on the roster, so let’s hit a bunch of line drives in the gaps this series….

      Liked by 1 person

  23. -I think Brad Peacock was amazing Wednesday night, at a time when the Astros really needed amazing.
    -The Astros are rated as one of the best fielding teams in the league by MLB. The Astros are rated poorly defensively by Fangraphs. Is it OK if we use our eyes to judge whether or not our team is good defensively, since metrics doesn’t really have a clue?
    -Dadgummit! Our team has a team batting average 14 points higher than the second place team at a time when batting average doesn’t mean anything. Such rotten timing! Astros team BA is .275 and the next best is .261. Just think if we had a good hitting player at second base. Nope. Ya can’t have everything.
    – Dear Good Astros: Please show up at MMP tonight.
    – I’m pretty sure that I am the only guy around here who is concerned about Yordan Alvarez’s .408 BABIP and his 1.50 ground ball vs fly ball rate. I am fine with him continuing to work in AAA at age 21.

    Liked by 3 people

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