Astros 2020: Who is to blame?

Yes, the Astros are four games up on the Mariners with seven games to go and with a couple wins in the next three games can clinch a playoff spot.

But 2020 has been a real disappointment for the team that came within a handful of outs of their second World Championship in three years. Limping along and backing into the playoffs as a .500 or so team was not expected after three seasons of 100+ wins.

So who is to blame? The answer may surprise you, but the answer could be right here in this blog. Yes, the Sports Illustrated cover jinx may be taking a back seat to the Chipalatta Curse….

Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch

This post from Sept. 9, 2019 really tweaked the nose of Fate…..and Fate swung back hard. Yeah – these guys were untouchable. Right?

https://chipalatta.com/2019/09/09/what-would-it-take-to-fire-luhnow-or-hinch/

A few months later “It” hit the top of the news and by mid-January of 2020 they were both gone.

Jose Altuve

On May 19, 2020, the blog talked about the Astros 2B in the same breath as the greatest 2B in Astros’ history.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/05/19/how-does-altuve-stack-up-against-biggio/

So, what happens? Jose Altuve currently sitting at .213 BA/ .279 OBP / .590 OPS is putting out a season that Craig Biggio only matched in his cameo as a rookie. And in this case “matched” meant matched in a bad sense.

Alex Bregman

On April 15, 2020, asked the question about whether Alex Bregman was the greatest 3B in Astros history.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/04/15/is-alex-bregman-the-best-astros-3b-ever/

Then on May 7, Alex’s start of career is compared to two of the greatest Astros of all time, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/05/07/alex-bregmans-career-arc-is-following-who/

Well after twice goading the baseball gods during the COVID hiatus, the gods decided that Bregman, who was coming off of a near MVP season where he slashed a tremendous . 296 BA/ .423 OBP/ 1.015 OPS fell to earth in 2020 had another thing coming. Working around a hamstring pull, he has fallen to earth with a season where he is more gnashing than slashing at .246 BA/ .358 OBP/ .787 OPS.

Yordan Alvarez

On May 5, 2020, the blog praised the Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez, who had already become the best DH in Astros history after half a season.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/05/05/how-yordan-alvarez-grabbed-the-dh-spot-by-the-throat/

Well, of course the results of all this was that Alvarez, due to knee problems, was not ready to start the delayed season opener. He joined the team in week 3 and after an eventful 2 games that included a first at bat 3 run home run, his knees took him down and his season ended in surgery.

Brad Peacock

Near the end of the abbreviated spring training on March 11, 2020 the blog speculated that Astros 2020 with Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley and Collin McHugh gone could afford swingman Brad Peacock another shot at a starting rotation spot.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/03/11/could-this-be-another-peacock-moment/

As it turned out, elbow soreness that Peacock had suffered in 2019 continued to plague him and delayed his debut in 2020 as a bullpen only pitcher. He got whacked around in 3 appearances and then went back onto the IL, likely never to be seen again.

Justin Verlander

In probably the worst jinx on this list, the blog on July 10, 2020 praised how well Verlander knew himself and how to tweak his pitching method.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/07/10/justin-verlander-behind-the-curtain-of-a-pitching-genius/

Exactly two weeks later Verlander made his only start of the 2020 season. He never made another due to arm soreness and despite trying to make a comeback, he had to bow his head a few days ago and announce that TJ surgery was about to happen.

Kyle Tucker

Kyle Tucker started the season slowly, but was rolling like a hot star when the blog highlighted him on August 31,2020.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/08/31/in-praise-of-kyle-tucker/

Within a week, Tucker was in free fall in a 3 for 30 slump.

Zack Greinke

On September 4, 2020 the blog pointed out what a great job Zack Greinke was doing leading the Astros neophyte rotation.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/09/04/the-astros-quirky-quiet-assassin/

Do we even have to point out what happened next? In his 3 starts since this unwanted attention, Greinke has gone 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA.

So….. there you go. The Astros terrible 2020 is a direct result of Dan P tempting fate with so many positive posts.

(Do you think that will let the Astros off the hook?)

35 comments on “Astros 2020: Who is to blame?

  1. Dan, I’m finally glad owned up to our dilemma. Most people would never admit but you have. Now as your punishment we could a) tar and feather you, b) keelhaul you, c) bury you up to your neck, pour honey on you and let the ants have their way, or d) be forced to watch the worst Astro games/performances in the past 30 years over and over again

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  2. Just to show you how things are going (and possibly why…)

    Max Stassi hit like crap last year..turned out he needed hip surgery. He’s hitting .250 with 5 hrs, 17 RBIs, and an .801 OPS. Anybody who saw him “hit” last year could see he was only swinging with his upper body, yet somehow that slipped by. Now what does that have to do with the current Astros? Everything. Things that are obvious slip by this team. Baker lost the club-house (if he even had it to begin with) by not giving a sh**. Altuve’s mechanics are shot to hell. Correa is in a free fall. Alvarez’s knees were shot and by rushing him back we ruined him for the season. Truth be told, this team is looking like 2013 or so, and Baker is oblivious. The whole team is basically a group of 2019 Max Stassis and nobody seems to care about it

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep. Very well said.
      I really liked Dusty the first couple of weeks. But I have to agree with everything thing you said.
      It was obvious how much this group really loved A.J. They gave him all they had and then some. I just get the feeling not all is well in this clubhouse. Giving Baker his dues, he’s been down this road so many years he just looks done.

      Liked by 1 person

    • And yet, Max Stassi is a pitcher’s best friend because he is the gosh-darndest pitch framer this side of Mayberry. And yet, the Angels pitching sucks. The Angels also have one of the best fielding shortstops ever and one of the best fielding third basemen ever. And they suck. They have Trout, Rendon, Babe Ohtani, Justin Freakin’ Upton, David the Wonder Fletcher, Best Prospect Ever Jo Adell. They have the most expensive shadow of a hall of famer in History, Albert Hercules Pujols. With all these magnificent starlets they have never sniffed the playoffs. And they still Suck. They Suck 10 games behind the Just Barely Above .500 Astros.
      Please, Billy, leave Max “Had More Chances Than Billy Hamilton” Stassi to rot in the Tax Hell of the World. He absolutely deserves to be there with all the other bright stars of California. And the guy who has turned it all around out there is Joe Madden. Who now sucks. God, I wish they had signed Bryce Harper so that he could live forever in fourth place heaven.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. If we’re trying to assign blame, it’s not going to be Dusty Baker from my perspective. I suppose it’s conceivable that he’s lost his clubhouse, but that’s a very convenient way to ignore rotten performance. Beyond rotten performance is the unprecedented array of injuries. For those two reasons, Baker gets a free pass from me in 2020. What the heck is Bregman even doing on the field right now? Am I the only one who watched him waddle home on the sac fly yesterday afternoon? That makes me a bit concerned about Click.

    But I’ll insist until the day I die that A. J Hinch and especially Jeff Luhnow put this club on the course to where they are today. Leadership and integrity. Any good business must have it. They didn’t provide it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Who’s to blame?

    1. Chinese scientists who developed coronavirus. If not for the pandemic, we would have had a normal 162 game season and instead of being 27-27 we would have at least 76 wins (and 76 losses) with 10 games to play.

    2. Russian hackers. They have infiltrated MLB.com, ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox Sports and all other media sources and replaced the real 2020 game results with fake news. They have likely hacked this blog as well.

    3. Aliens. They have abducted the real 2020 Astros and replaced them with the 1992 Astros.

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  5. I’m disappointed by the subpar performances, but take a look at some players from around the league that I cherry-picked:

    Player A – 179 AB .218 AVG / .358 OPS / .453 SLG 11 HR 21 RBI 4 SB 68 K
    Player B – 188 AB .202 AVG / .298 OPS / .415 SLG 12 HR 27 RBI 0 SB 56 K
    Player C – 199 AB .231 AVG / .314 OPS / .432 SLG 11 HR 27 RBI 6 SB 39 K
    Player D – 143 AB .147 AVG / .247 OPS / .385 SLG 10 HR 24 RBI 0 SB 58 K
    Player E – 185 AB .205 AVG / .287 OPS / .373 SLG 6 HR 23 RBI 1 SB 53 K
    Player F – 199 AB .206 AVG / .242 OPS / .362 SLG 7 HR 22 RBI 2 SB 70 K
    Player G – 172 AB .198 AVG / .310 OPS / .407 SLG 10 HR 23 RBI 1 SB 62 K

    Wow. That’s a lot of disappointment. I didn’t even include players who have historically been one tool, like Joey Gallo. The group, respectively represents Yelich, Alsono, Bellinger, Sanchez, JDM, Baez, and Schwarber. You can have a couple reactions to it I suppose. Bellinger was last year’s NL MVP and Yelich was the runner-up. Alsono finished 7th in the voting and was a near-unanimous NL ROY I believe. The other guys are on the list because I’m bitter. I hate how much we’ve heard about the amazing NYY and the national media has given far too much recognition to the Cubs of late. JDM gets bonus points for his comments about the Red Sox and how their cheating was clearly not a problem and we should all apologize to Alex Cora and other nonsense.

    So we can form a couple of opinions based off assumptions. One is that 2020 is such a strange year and this is only about a third of a season so it’s unfair to really judge anyone’s performance. Another is that those guys were probably cheating even harder than the Astros last year. I think the real answer is somewhere a bit different. Ignoring the cheating, players have had to prepare for games differently than ever before. That means altering their practice routines, limiting their access to the video rooms and coaching, extended road trips, and more importantly removing days off. I complain often that everyone thinks like Luhnow that this is all fantasy baseball and you can play it out on a spreadsheet. A small, nagging injury can have a huge impact on your results. Lack of rest and rehabilitation can turn a small injury into a major one. Also, once you get a bad habit, change to your swing, etc. it’s hard to get it corrected on the fly.

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    • I’d much rather use team stats. The Astros were far and away the best hitting team in baseball last year. They are 21st in 2020. The OPS has gone from .848 to .713.

      Sure we got our butts kicked with injuries but nobody really picked up the slack and had a big year. Kyle Tucker has given us reason to be optimistic, but that’s about it.

      Every team has had to deal with this strange year. The whole league has had to deal with different practice routines, limited video access, odd extended road trips, a lack of days off and double headers. And they’ve had injuries too. So that stuff is no excuse either.

      As far as the cheating thing goes, if I’m bitter, it’s because our organization, so loaded with talent, felt the need to cheat and were so cavalier about it that they got caught. I’ll never be the same Astro fan I once was.

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  6. 1 for 8 with RISP last night. Although LMJ was pitching good, there was no reason to leave him in there in the 7th. We couldn’t score and no sense in putting the strain on his arm. Our offense is down right offensive. The web site headline is “Division out of reach after tough loss” If we can win at least 3 more games then we’re in the playoffs. The only positive thing going for us is the M’s last 4 games are against the A’s. We could get in through the back door but we sure don’t look like we want it right now.

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  7. Some thoughts today:
    – Not really happy they gave Springer a day off in the middle of being in fuego unless he was hurting
    – Just because Straw takes Springer place in the field does not mean that the guy who isn’t hitting a lick should be at the top of the lineup in Springer’s spot
    – I am OK with Altuve hitting towards the top of the order because after deciding to hit to the opposite field the other day he has suddenly remembered how to hit. But Straw, Bregman and Gurriel are not hitting right now and all they did was make sure that there were non-productive outs in the middle of guys (Altuve, Brantley, Tucker) who were hitting or getting on base.
    – You just knew that when we failed to score with putting guys on every inning and with the M’s being no-hit, that it would break the other way. Too bad Altuve’s error made McCullers have to try and get the 4th out he could not get in that 7th inning.
    – The hitting is down across baseball, but the Astros are down more than anyone. They were 1st in BA/OBP/SLG/OPS in the AL last season and they are 10th in BA, 12th in OBP, 9th in SLG and 10th in OPS. And they had to deal with injuries last season too, but they just don’t seem to have a good plan at the plate this season.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not ready to give up on him yet; he played well last year. He started to come around earlier and then went through a stretch of not playing.

        Besides, I’d rather see him than Toro

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      • I’m not convinced Honest Abe has it in him either. I hope I was not wrong about both guys. Each had a real chance to make an impact this summer. There were plenty of innings to go around. Neither came close.

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      • How do you see free agency playing out? Is Click going to be able to sign real players or will it look like 2013 where Carlos Pena was our big acquisition? Remember we’re losing some key pieces. I don’t want to see some players back…but you have to find someone better to replace each of them for it to make sense.

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      • Devin, I don’t have a clue as to what Click will do. It’s the one thing involving Astro baseball I’m really looking forward to over the next few months. I’m intrigued. We won’t have a whole lot of money to spend, but we need help in several areas. I really don’t think we will be in the elite team category next year. But we’ve got most of what could be a solid rotation if healthy. We’ve got All Stars and a ROY at the plate, again, if healthy. We need a pen. We need an outfield. We need a bench. I wonder how many untouchables we’ve got on our roster?

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  8. I’m going to bring up Max Stassi again. He’s now at .284 with 6 HRs and an OPS over .900. Meanwhile, injuries aside, most of our team (pretty much everyone besides Brantley and Tucker) offensively are having their worst years as a pro. Looks like if we hold on tonight we’re going to back into the playoffs, but everyone struggling at the same time? As I was trying to say before, something is wrong here. What did the Angels see that we didn’t? As oldpro stated above, they pretty much suck otherwise. I refuse to believe everyone forgot how to hit like major leaguers all at the same time.

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    • billy, it’s no different than JD Davis, Kike Hernandez, Robbie Grossman, or Ramon Laureano. Sometimes teams miss on their evaluations. Sometimes players are never going to reach their potential in a particular environment. In Stassi’s case, he only has played in 28 games and gone to the plate 93 times this year. That sounds about like a good target – make him a platoon or backup catcher and put him in positions to succeed but don’t ask him to carry the load. It’s unfortunate he has to help the Angels win games though.

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  9. I think that “it” has somehow psychologically affected the hitters, especially Altuve, Bregman, Correa, Gurriel & Reddick (who were all here in 2017). Springer was also here in 2017 but now seems to be breaking out of his early slump. Three guys that are hitting better than expected (Brantley, Maldonado & Tucker) were not here in ’17.

    Just speculation on my part, but maybe all the pre-season talk of pitcher retaliation has made them a split-second slower to react, especially to inside pitches; causing them to swing at more pitches away and off the plate.

    As Yogi Berra once supposedly said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”

    Framber credits his success this year to improving his mental game:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right there with you. I called it an early evening. Didn’t feel like stay up past midnight to watch the West coast game. Are we now beginning to see the real Kyle Tucker? If so, the wait was worth it. Wouldn’t mind seeing Brantley, Springer, and Tucker in the outfield for a full season. I don’t think it would cost us any more than we’re currently paying now. And we’ll lose Reddick’s 13MM since I doubt we’ll resign him.

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