The Astros as a team are tearing up baseball with a great starting staff and with the best offense in the MLB. What has come to light lately during their hot streak (11 straight wins, 15 of their last 17) is that their bench, unlike 2020, is a positive influence.
Despite losing Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker and with Dusty Baker giving every member of the starting nine, days off, the team’s offense has not skipped a beat and in fact, has been even more effective.
If you go back to 2020, this was not the story. Here is what the team received from the non-starters in their lineup:
- Abraham Toro slashing .149 BA/ .237 OBP/ .513 OPS with 13 runs, 3 HRs and 9 RBIs in 87 ABs.
- Myles Straw slashing .204 BA/ .244 OBP/ .500 OPS with 8 runs, 0 HRs and 8 RBIs in 82 ABs.
- “Super” Jack Mayfield slashing .190 BA/ .239 OBP/ .453 OPS with 5 runs, 0 HRs and 3 RBIs in 42 ABs.
- Dustin Garneau slashing .158 BA/ .273 OBP/ .558 OPS with 4 runs, 1 HR and 4 RBIs in 38 ABs.
- Taylor Jones slashing .190 BA/ .227 OBP/ .608 OPS with 3 runs, 1 HR and 3 RBIs in 21 ABs.
- Garrett Stubbs slashing .125 BA/ .111 OBP/ .236 OPS with 1 run, 0 HR and 1 RBIs in 8 ABs.
The only bench guy one could trust even a little bit was Aledmys Diaz (.241 BA/ .254 OBP/ .737 OPS/ 8 runs/ 3 HRs/ 6 RBIs in 58 ABs), who due to injury was only available for 17 games on the short season.
With a bench like that, the starting nine (who were not having stellar seasons themselves) played a big chunk of the season.
Now contrast that to the bench this season….
- Jason Castro slashing .246 BA/ .386 OBP/ .824 OPS with 12 runs, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs in 57 ABs.
- Chas McCormick slashing .231 BA/ .291 OBP/ .787 OPS with 26 runs, 9 HRs, 27 RBIs in 117 ABs.
- Aledmys Diaz (unfortunately on the IL until August) slashing .278 BA/ .341 OBP/ .776 OPS with 14 runs, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs in 115 ABs.
- Abraham Toro slashing .282 BA/ .378 OBP/ .814 OPS with 5 runs, 2 HRs and 10 RBIs in 39 ABs.
- Garrett Stubbs slashing .235 BA/ .278 OBP/ .572 OPS with 1 run, 0 HR and 2 RBIs in 17 ABs.
- Robel Garcia slashing .196 BA/ .236 OBP/ .530 OPS with 5 runs, 1 HR and 7 RBIs in 51 ABs.
- Taylor Jones slashing .174 BA/ .220 OBP/ .437 OPS with 4 runs, 0 HRs and 4 RBIs in 46 ABs.
Not every one of these is a gem, but there were practically no gems last season. Particularly important in this batch has been Castro in the backup catcher spot, McCormick seeing the time when Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker have been out and Toro sucking up ABs with Alex Bregman on the sideline until after the All Star game. With Diaz out, Toro has been an even more critical offensive addition to this team.
What is interesting is that last season the starting nine were pretty mediocre and could have used some solid bench place to boost them up, which did not occur. This season the starting nine are rocking and rolling and some may argue the bench is not that critical. But the bench is contributing to that top-notch offense filling in for Tucker, Brantley, Bregman and previously Jose Altuve and others. And the old sly one, Dusty Baker is sliding in days off for the whole bunch of the starters to keep them fresh during the marathon of a season.
What a difference a season makes.