Astros’ Free Blog Weekend returns

Today we return to a long time favorite post established by the founder of the feast, as it were, Chip Bailey. It is called free blog weekend, and as it implies, it features the mental fancies of all our commenters here on the blog taking the conversation anywhere they wish to go.

Per the normal for the free weekend blog, I will toss out a topic to get things started (if needed), but you are not fenced in by this suggestion.

Are we seeing the real Yordan Alvarez this year?

It is really spoiled to say that Alvarez’s 2021 was a disappointment when he scored 92 runs, hit 33 homers, knocked in 104 runs and had an outstanding .277 BA/ .346 OBP/ .877 OPS. But remember, in the 87 games of his 2019 Rookie of the Year campaign, he slashed a breathtaking.313 BA / .412 OBP/ 1.067 OPS with 58 runs scored, 27 HRs and 78 RBIs in only 313 ABs. If you project those numbers to the 537 ABs he had in 2021, you would be looking at 99 runs, 46 HRs, and 134 RBIs.

Of course, the best explanation was the knee injuries he suffered that wiped out his 2020 season. He came back, but he was likely holding back a bit or even dealing with some healing in a very good but not transcendent 2021.

Flash forward to 2022, and riding a recent hot streak, he is trending back towards the pace he was on back in 2019. His .271 BA/ .377 OBP/ .992 OPS is a bit behind his 2019 pace, but remember that offense is down across the board, and his slash would be just a bit behind his ROY season if they were not using a whiffle ball in 2022. His 19 runs, 10 HRs, and 19 RBIs in 31 games (only 27 of which he’s played) would factor up to 99 runs, 50 HRs, and 99 RBIs. And who knows where he would be without the games missed to the COVID scare he had.

He is running very well this year (except when he thinks he hit a walk-off home run that falls a little short), and he is starting to flash a very good glove for such a huge man. His arm is solid too.

Will he threaten the Astros team record for home runs in a season, Jeff Bagwell‘s 47 in 2000? It feels like a matter of time before Yordan takes that crown from Bagwell. Meanwhile, his at bats are definitely Must See TV here in Houston.

So, your turn to either pile on the Alvarez discussion train or set a trail for yourself. Talk among yourselves.

54 comments on “Astros’ Free Blog Weekend returns

  1. After all these years, I’m still having a hard time getting the shells off a hard boiled egg. I’m a failure in this regard.

    Alvarez looks more at peace this year. He’s hit a couple of dingers the other way. He’s got 17 walks and just 20 K’s. That was a real issue last year. Yordan was very frustrated that his eye was better than most umps. And maybe the men in blue are finally giving him a bit more respect. He’s making a lot more contact in 2022.

    I’d still prefer that he not play too much outfield. That wall banging could cost him. Heck of a play though. It’s clear that he’s not content with simply being a bat swinger.

    Like

    • Daveb – My wife loves hard boiled eggs (I have an allergy). She swears by a product that she started using about a year ago. After boiling she first puts them in a bowl of ice. Then she uses this product called a NEGG Boiled Egg Peeler (you can get it off Amazon). You basically have to shake the egg back and forth in the peeler with a little bit of water in it. It takes a little touch, but after a while you will figure it out and easily get them out of the shell without gouging the eggs.

      Like

      • Free Blog! Dan, I hate to admit defeat, but I’m going to look into that NEGG gizmo.

        Our guys keep jumping on pitchers that have been successful.

        Our team has more than one stopper on the mound. And we’re got guys that will hit a big fly. We won’t ever lose ten in a row.

        Like

  2. And since this is Free Blog Weekend, post eggshell report, I’m going to be attending a day night double header on July 7, the opener a 2:10 PM start with the Astros going against KC. The cool thing is that the nightcap is out in Sugarland with the Space Cowboys going up against the El Paso Cactus. I’m sure brother Eric snd I won’t be the first to do a crosstown twin bill, but I’m really looking forward to this inclusion in my annual trip in this year. I will file a full report. Game 2 transportation will certainly include an Uber driver.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The Mrs. and I are closing on a new build home next week. It has taken the builder 11 months to build it. Since we bought, the house has gained 120K in value!! The bad news, I am going to have to pay higher taxes! Luckily, I can claim Homestead and 65+ exemptions. Gated community and the home owners MUST be 55+ to own and 35+ to live there.

    Our final home.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just wanted to point out that Trevor Story is ranked 32nd amongst second basemen. I doubt he finishes that low at the end of the season, but I’m willing to bet Pena finishes higher in the SS rankings than Story in the 2B rankings for a lot less money.

      Like

  4. And, finally, the Astros are second in all of baseball in Batting WAR, even thought they still have the second lowest BABIP in baseball.
    I interpret that to mean that they continue to win despite being unlucky and continuing to hit the ball hard, right at a defender.

    Like

  5. If you’re out-of-state like me, and haven’t bought the out-of-market MLB stream package yet, they just put it on-sale for 50% off. I got the rest of the season for $60.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And in following up on the Alvarez story – after yesterday’s game …..
    .280 BA/ .381 OBP/ 1.021 OPS with 21 runs scored / 11 HRs/ 21 RBIs which projects out to 103 runs/ 54 HRs/ 103 RBIs. He’s second in the majors in homers, 4th in slugging and fifth in OPS and he’s just hitting his stride.

    Like

  7. By the way the Astros in May are 11-1 and they are 4th in runs scored, and first in OPS in the AL.
    But the even more amazing stats are on the pitching side in May. Their team ERA is 1.09, which is not only first in the majors, but the second team in the Majors in May is the Rangers way up at 2.63. Their WHIP is first at 0.86. The league in May is hitting .182 BA, which is also the best in the majors.
    Maybe the Astros knew they were going to be OK when Brent Strom left (though he has helped the D’Backs go from last in the NL in ERA (5.11) in 2021 to 5th (3,53) in 2022.

    Like

      • I don’t think they’ll unload Goodrum because of his 2.1 million. The Astros hate to throw money away. But I’d much rather they eat his salary than put someone on the IL.

        Like

      • Not surprised at all about Goodrum. He was stinking it up in spring training so not surprised it didn’t change. Not as bad as losing the $ on Baez but time to get someone else. As for tonight’s game, it was bound to happen. Tomorrow another day and we can start another winning streak.

        Like

    • From MLB.com: “Astros general manager James Click said Dubón will join the Astros in Washington on Sunday, at which time a corresponding roster move will be made.”
      I wonder what the “corresponding move” will be…

      Like

  8. Well, Javier did not seem to have it from the start. And we let their pitcher off the hook in the first. But even with our anemic lineup tonight, this National club is one group that we can come back from 5 down against.

    Like

    • Mauricio Dubón is a good fielding utility player with a decent historical on base % but little to no power. Papierski was probably our 4th best catching prospect at best. So it costs either team nothing except minimum salary.

      Like

      • While talking about Catchers, (Yes, Its Early) Yanier Diaz (23) and Cesar Salazar (26) are performing better than Luke Berryhill (23). Diaz and Salazar are throwing out about 30% at caught stealing.

        Like

  9. https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/pedro-leon-korey-lee-come-up-clutch-for-space-cowboys?t=mlb-pipeline-coverage
    This article describes Leon as a SS and Lee as a catcher. Leon hasn’t played SS for Sugarland since he committed 3 errors in three games at SS early in the season. It seems he has become an outfielder, where he always belonged.
    Lee, in the meantime had his big game yesterday as a DH. But, I will admit he is a catcher.
    My thought is that Leon has started to flourish as a batter since he no longer has to worry about playing out of position as a SS.
    And now that Papierski is out of the picture, I assume Manea and Lee will handle the Catcher/ DH chores alternatingly there, barring injury.
    I used the word “alternatingly”, thinking it would get red-lined by spell check. I guess it is ok because it wasn’t flagged.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’ve also been touting Javier. He has a tough job though. From week to week he does not know what exactly his job will be. He’s an important piece of the equation.

      I did not realize Goodrum had options left. Seems like the new guy will make some contact. That would be helpful.

      Maldy has gotten over the double Mendoza like in fine fashion! Can he hit .150? I think we need more than a couple of runs to win this one for Verlander though.

      Like

  10. Alex Bregman has not been a number #3 hitter since 2019. How big a beneficiary was he during the trash can years? Regardless, he’s 28 and runs like he’s 35. He’s a notoriously slow starter, but if he’s still hitting .235 and struggling to keep the OPS over .800 as he enters June, then I might be convinced that we’ve seen the best of him.

    Like

  11. Daveb – on the other hand on Bregman – he is tied for the lead in RBIs, is again walking more then he strikes out and is still hitting an unlucky .245 BAbip. If his luck picks up he may be in a better spot.
    On the other hand I’d rather have Alvarez in the third spot getting more ABs…

    Today was a reverse day for JV other than results. I am not sure I’ve ever seen a pitcher go 107 pitches in 5 innings and not give up a run, but he didn’t give up a hit until 1 out in the 5th. After being so efficient last game he had trouble throwing strikes today, until he absolutely had to….

    Like

    • Serious question – do you have a recollection of Bregman putting the ball in play and being unlucky with the outcome this year? He’s 17/23 on line drives, but only 3/26 on ground balls. Given he doesn’t run grounders out that’s not too surprising, but I can understand thinking a few more might find some holes. Keep in mind a couple of those grounder hits were poking it the other way through the shift. As a comparison, though, here are a few more people on line drives this year:
      Ohtani 15/24
      Trout 9/14
      Altuve 6/12
      Correa 11/17
      Machado 19/25
      Yordan 12/20

      I don’t think it’s been bad luck for Bregman. I think it’s his normal streakiness and why you suggested he would never break .300.

      Like

      • Looking at Bregman’s stats compared to previous seasons – items that could be hurting him:
        – His hard hit % is down to 34% – he averages about 40% for his career
        – His pull % is up to 41% (hitting into the shift) when he averages 32%
        – His % to center is down to 41% when he averages 53%
        – His groundball % is down to 26% from an average of 35%
        – His flyball% is up to 40% from his average of 28%

        Like

  12. The offense is rolling now – nice to see Yuli heating up, Chas’ dinger and getting some help from Maldy. With no Pena or Tucker today, the rest of the team is picking things up. And they are doing a good job of putting yesterday’s bad game behind them.

    Like

  13. I’ve not been able to watch the game today – been checking in here and there – has Angel Hernandez actually been OK today behind the plate?

    Like

    • I couldn’t watch any of the game, but it took Verlander 107 pitches to get through 5 innings despite not allowing a hit through 4. That’s putting in a lot of work. Regardless, he’s 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA and that loss was 1-0 in his first start. How amazing a start is that?

      Like

    • Hernandez was calling pitches above the zone strikes all day and not calling strikes low in the zone all day. He was horrible and Siri got the worst of it and kept his temper in check.

      Like

  14. In the meantime, Verlander is plowing through innings. How do we keep the guy from throwing more than 150 to 160 during the regular season in an effort to keep him from being gassed when it’s time to play in October?

    Like

  15. I want to tag onto what 1OP said about the Siri plate appearance. A bad call is not “you still have two strikes to go.” Siri had a ball that was near eye level called a strike. The pitcher, seeing that, threw another pitch well above the strike zone. If you are Siri, you have to swing or just get called out on strikes. So in the stat box, Siri struck out swinging. But in fact he was forced to swing at a pitch way too high due to the previous call.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. To OP and AC
    Fast forwarding through some of the highlight innings and I got to see a number of Angel’s butchering of the strike zone and I did get to see that Siri at bat. I was thinking the same thing AC, once you have a high strike called on you – you have to swing. Its funny you would have thought this would have worked to Verlander’s advantage, but he was really having problems putting the ball where he wanted. It was amazing that he could have 107 pitches in 5 innings and allow only 5 base runners and no runs.

    To Daveb – Not sure what they can do with Verlander to keep him from overdoing it this year. Though frankly this is the only start he has really had to labor that hard. He worked a lot harder in this game than in his previous 8 inning one hit start. They could just keep pulling him a bit early or even give him a 10 day IL staycation, but he is not likely to buy into either of those things. It would be awfully nice if McCullers did return and was able to pitch. They could give him some rest by keeping to a 6 man rotation. Right now he is on pace for 32 starts and 209 innings, before the playoffs (if we are in them). I’m not comfortable with that either.

    Like

    • One thing to keep in mind is that all the Astros starting pitchers are operating on an extra day of rest, and the result of that is fewer total starts at the end of the year. All of that is the result of the six man rotation.
      Another consideration would be the possible addition of LMJ joining in sometime this summer.
      Another consideration might be Hunter Brown, come September. He has to be added to the 40-man in the offseason anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree they have too protect him, but neither Hunter Brown nor Jonathan Bermudez are having a good year. Brown is averaging 5 walks per 9 and Bermudez 4. (Yes it it early). I have watched several “good” minor league pitchers on other teams. They all to seem to have control issues this season. It appears to me that they are missing big on a lot of pitches. I have to wonder if Manfred is tinkering with the balls again.

        Like

    • A skill that a lot of batters don’t seem to have these days is the ability to foul pitches off. If you’re Siri and the umpire makes a bad call out of the zone like that you can approach it a couple different ways. The first would be to expand your zone to match and try to hit balls that normally wouldn’t be strikes. The second is to acknowledge you can’t take them, but also don’t try to put it in play. If you take the latter approach you can also gain an advantage. It gives you the mindset that “I am going to look in this one place…elevated fastball. If the pitcher misses his spot I’m going to crush it. If the pitcher hits his spot and it’s not a pitch I want then I’m going to give someone behind the plate a free souvenir. If it’s any pitch other than a high fastball I’m not going to put it in play…but will try to foul it off if it’s close to the zone.” If an umpire is consistently calling pitches in an area but you aren’t like to be able to get hits off them then the last thing you want to do is to try to put it in play. Eventually the pitcher will miss his spot.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Devin, the ability to foul off pitches must not be taught as it was in the past. Alex Johnson was the best I ever saw. He has the unique ability to check his swing and actually bunt foul pitch after pitch, until he got one he wanted to hit.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s