Halfway There

Apologies to Bon Jovi for stealing the title of this post from a line from Living on a Prayer, but this year’s Astros team is doing much more than living on a prayer.

Wednesday night’s game signaled the halfway point of the 2022 season for the Astros as they logged in with an exemplary 53-28 record which could easily be extrapolated to a 106-56 record for the team. The club record is the 107 wins the team put up in 2019, though their 50-31 record that season is not as good as this year. In fact, the halfway record for the team is the 54-27 result they had in 2017 on the way to a 101-61 finish and an eventual championship. In 2018 they finished at 103-59 after having an identical 53-28 record to this season.   

Where will this team end up? Well, they may not have their pedal to the metal the whole second half if they are not challenged in their playoff run. But even when they ease up on the gas, they continue to play well, and there is no doubt that on paper, they have an easier path to the finish than they did to the halfway mark. About 20% of their remaining games are against the Oakland A’s, for gosh sakes.

On an individual statistic basis, what stands out at the halfway mark? (Note all stats are based on the 81-game mark.)

  • Yordan Alvarez, with 25 home runs, is on pace for 50 home runs this season. As a reminder, the 47 by Jeff Bagwell in 2000 (The first season in Ten-Run Field) is the club record. And Yordan started the second half with a homer pumped the other way into the Crawford Boxes.
  • Kyle Tucker, with 57 RBIs, is pretty impressive. Yes, Yordan was leading the team with 58 RBIs after 81 games, but it is extraordinary that Tucker is this close. He’s had 11 more at bats, but every other stat seems to be against him. Look at their comparative slashes. Tucker – .262 BA/ .352 OBP/ .839 OPS and Alvarez – .313 BA / .411 OBP/ 1.071 OPS. Tucker has good numbers, while Alvarez is transcendent. Tucker has been a great run producer since he turned the corner in 2020 and continues to be so today. And Alvarez is leading in homers, 25 to 16.
  • Justin Verlander (who added to his total in game 82) had 10 wins in the first half, which puts him on pace for 20 wins. Will he get there, or will they rest him enough down the stretch to keep him fresh and maybe a little short of 20 wins?
  • Jeff Bagwell was part of the 30/30 club in 1999 (42 HRs/30 RBIs), and if you combine numbers, Carlos Beltran had 38 HRs and 42 RBIs between KC and Houston in 2004. And if you project out – Kyle Tucker is on pace for 32 homers and 28 SBs this season. Can the tall, lanky one with the great baserunning instincts (14 of 16 on SBs this season) join the club?
  • Ryan Pressly had 17 saves as of the 81-game mark (and added another one on Thursday) and is on pace for breaking his career-best of 26 last season. The Astros have been using the revelation that is Rafael Montero for some save situations, but Pressly will likely beat that number in the next couple of months.
  • He got passed in game 82 by Justin Verlander, but through 81 games, only Framber Valdez, with 101 innings, was on pace for the 200-inning mark. Hard to remember when 300 innings was a number that pitchers would shoot for in a season.
  • The first-half team leader in strikeouts is Cristian Javier, whose 102 Ks was a bit ahead of the 93 for Valdez and the 90 for Verlander. This is even more impressive considering Javier had only pitched 74.2 innings compared to the 101 by Framber and 97.1 by JV.
  • Jeremy Pena sat at 12 homers and on a pace for 24 at the halfway mark. It should be noted that Carlos Correa topped out at 26 homers in 2021 and sits at 9 homers today. $35 MM does not go as far as it used to, does it?
  • At the halfway mark it is the Yordan Alvarez show as he leads the team with a .313 BA/ .411 OBP/ .660 SLG/ 1.071 OPS/ 80 hits/ 54 runs/ 25 HRs/ 58 RBIs. Oh, and he is tied with Jose Siri with 2 triples. Unbelievable.
  • Two Astro relievers have been very stingy with the runs this season. Ryne Stanek has a microscopic 0.63 ERA, while stealth reliever Seth Martinez logs in at a 0.83 ERA. Can they keep that up?

That is a quick look at what happened in the first 81 games of this season. What strikes your eye?

 

58 comments on “Halfway There

  1. It has been an amazing first half of the season. We saw the entire offense start cold, then start coming to life one by one. The biggest weapon has been Alvarez, of course (59 RBI and 55 runs scored); but we also have 57 RBIs and 37 runs from Tucker; 42 RBI and 44 runs from Bregman; 32 RBIs and 44 runs from Altuve; 31 RBI and 36 runs from Pena; and 26 RBI and 28 runs from Brantley. Beyond that, it hasn’t been great – although Yuli and Aledmys seem to be hitting better lately and Meyers is a big step up offensively from either McCormick or Siri.

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  2. Hey great notes Dan!

    Just a few of my own – Tucker has had the fortune of spending most of the season a spot or 2 behind Yordan, and while Yuli has been awful between them at times, Yordan has been on base a bit more than the folks in front of Yordan.

    When looking at Pena and Correa – its suprising how eeringly similar their seasons are. They both have missed about 20 games, Correa has a slight edge in most stats – OBP, OPS, Pena does have him in SLG and HR. Correa has only been slightly better overall but he is certainly not playing on the level of a Yordan or Judge or Trout – which is what he is being paid to be. Solid win so far for the good guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For a rookie SS we would have probably been ok with a .240 BA and 10 HRs and 40 RBIs —— for the whole season
      Peña has been everything we could ask for

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wo, oh, we’re halfway there.
    Wo, oh, Yanks don’t think it’s fair.
    Check out Yordan’s big swing, and JVs’ hard stare,
    and wo, oh … look at Christian Javier!

    If we can just hold on … to what we’ve got;
    We’ll run off with our division by a heckuva lot;
    If the pitchin’ stay sharp and the bats stay hot;
    When the playoffs roll around we’ll give our best shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love it Mr Bill!

      We are hoping this season continues to be a Runaway
      Of course the Yankees Give Ball a Bad Name
      And of course we would like someone to capture Angel Hernandez before the playoffs – he’s wanted Dead or Alive

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  4. We’ve been pretty good. How many times have we used our preferred lineup?

    Altuve
    Brantley
    Bregman
    Alvarez
    Tucker
    Gurriel
    Pena
    Meyers
    Maldonaldo

    …Or something including these 9 guys?

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  5. Your 30/30 post says RBIs instead of Stolen Bases.

    Jeff Bagwell was part of the 30/30 club in 1999 (42 HRs/30 RBIs), and if you combine numbers, Carlos Beltran https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/beltrca01.shtml?utm_campaign=Linker&utm_source=&utm_medium=referral had 38 HRs and 42 RBIs between KC and Houston in 2004. And if you project out – Kyle Tucker is on pace for 32 homers and 28 SBs this season. Can the tall, lanky one with the great baserunning instincts (14 of 16 on SBs this season) join the club?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One of Tucker’s 2 “caught stealing” was when Severino was messing with his PitchCom and Tucker tried to steal home. That was a great play.

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    • Dan, that’s why I’d much rather Alvarez stay home and rest for the Yankees. The All Star game, marketed by MLB, and specifically guys like Ohtani, is a BS representation of the best players in the game.

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      • After I pointed out that ESPN was pushing for Ohtani hard, I noticed that MLB.com was pushing hard for Ohtani to win, with multiple articles about his amazingness this week.

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  7. At the 8th inning marker three (3) things come to mind. 1. It will never be too soon to get a computerized strike zone. 2. Urquidy has the unique ability throw what appear to be fat pitches yet keep most of them on the field of play. 3. If your fastball sits at 91 mph, don’t bother to try to get this Astros team out.

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  8. Was the ump missing as many calls against the A’s batters, too? All night long he was calling pitches outside the zone a strike against Astros batters. Did he do it against A’s batters, also.

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  9. Happened to notice that Jake Meyers, born in Omaha, NE, has the middle name of Berkshire. Does he even need to be playing baseball for a living?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a 14 year old I had a morning paper route in my neighborhood. I road a bike up and down hills to deliver 80+ daily papers. On Thursday I had to make two trips since all the weekly advertisements were included. If I rode my bike on Sundays it would take 6 trips because I had 120 on Sunday. I was lucky that my Dad would drive me. I’d sit on the back of the trunk which had the papers in it and I’d throw them from the trunk. If it rained I had to use the mailbox or put them on the porch. The daily paper rate was .60/week and .25/Sunday. I collected monthly and once I was collecting and the guy told me my money was the same place I threw his paper, on the roof. I sure miss those days sometimes.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Its Jose Siri getting called up

    Lineup today
    Altuve 2B
    Pena SS
    Bregman 3B
    Tucker RF
    Gurriel 1B
    Diaz DH
    Meyers CF
    McCormick LF
    Korey Lee C

    Jake Odoreater on the mound

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      • The key thing to me – does the new stance somehow stop him from swinging at breaking balls outside and below the strike zone?

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  11. I think I was running some errands in the last day or two and they commented about Yordan stepping out of the batter’s box after a foul ball and how he never steps out.
    They were saying today it had been sore, but he aggravated it in that at bat.
    So, yes not a bad time when you are headed to the All Star Break where he can get some extra rest. It helps being up 12 games in the division too.

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    • It was the at bat where he hit his homer to the left field crawford boxes. He swung and missed and was wincing and stepped out of the box. The umpire followed him and asked if he was ok and gave Yordan a little time to step back in. A couple of pitches later he took a smooth swing and the ball barely made it into the first row.

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  12. A good game today. Odorizzi pitched very well. Korey Lee with 3 hits, Tucker with a HR, good defense. Congratulations for our All Star selections.

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  13. Good win today. The A’s are bad and Odorizzi was pretty good, so I’m not sure how good Odorizzi actually was.

    Jason Castro has 3 RBI’s on the season. So does Korey Lee.

    It’s pretty hot around here.

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    • So you are saying that if Lee goes 70 more ABs without an RBI they will be tied?

      Hey we finally got below 100F around 8 PM. I think they said it was 105F here in Sugar Land today.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thoughts
    – Again, a quick bounce back from a really weird loss on Saturday. Another road series win for the good guys.
    – Pretty neat for Bay Area guy, catcher Korey Lee, who went to Cal-Berkeley to have his first three hits and three RBIs in front of family against Oakland
    – Obviously, Oakland is a poor hitting opponent, but Odorizzi had a terrific start, he was completely in control, made a great pickoff and made an amazing catch of a laser back up the middle
    – On the telecast they were talking about how the Urquidy/Martinez Friday night, the Framber complete game Saturday and the Odorizzi, Maton, Abreu Sunday gave the big three (Neris, Montero, Pressly) a complete weekend off without even warming up
    – Sorry that Yordan can’t play in the ASG, glad he will miss the Home Run Derby, hope he gets a chance to hang out around all the great players and former players that will gather
    – Altuve, Alvarez and Verlander were no brainers, but happy the players recognized Tucker and Valdez with invites
    – Glad Abreu has bounced back from his one poor outing and is back to making the opponents look bad
    – Meyers continues to do something positive every game
    – Ohtani pitches Wednesday night – would like the team to spank him a bit for beating out Yordan even though we always knew he was going to the ASG

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  15. One of my buddies from work went to the Sugar Lane Space Invaders game today / tonight. I asked him if it was like sitting on the surface of the sun. He said it wasn’t so bad – he’s used to wearing those fire retardant suits at the chemical plants…
    He was interested in watching Forrest Whitley pitch – but Whitley came out of the game with shoulder soreness after one inning. I guess we should have traded him instead of bringing him up to AAA

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  16. I saw an interesting list of leaders on the Astros game with Yordan leading the league in OPS the other game which was not unusual but Altuve was right up there. So I looked today and he is 7th in AL. I then looked at his career stats and in 2014 – 7 HRs – lead the league in hitting at .341 and OPS of .830. This year so far .280 – 17 HRS – and OPS of .906. Completely different hitter today.

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  17. On reflection, I’m pretty darn happy with the 2022 version of our Astros to date. I’m not sure if any of us thought we’d be this good. Pitching has been remarkable with real surprises from Abreu and Montero and mostly consistent work from Neris. Stanek deserved a shot on the All Star roster. The starters overall, with a few bumps in the road have been excellent and most importantly are all healthy today. Is any club in better shape in that regard today?

    Bregman has figured it out finally. The .916 OPS over the past month is not a fluke. Pena is struggling a bit lately, but what did we expect? He picked up the offense during our early dry spell. The only guy having a career year is Alvarez.

    So what do we do? I do not know. We can go deep into the post season if the guys we have now are healthy. But I’d sure like at least one significant acquisition to show the league that we’re serious. Pittsburg has no real reason to let Bryant go at this point, but he sure is the guy I’d like to have if one big non rental deal could get made.

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    • I take it you are talking about Bryan Reynolds the Pirates CF, daveb.
      – He was tremendous in his rookie season (2019) .314 BA/.377 OBP / .880 OPS and last year .302/.390/.912. He was awful in 2020, but a lot of players were. This year he is solid .261/.343/.808 in a year when a lot of numbers are down and of course he does not have a lot around him in that lineup.
      If you trade for him you get him for three more seasons. His arb year next year has been already bought out at $6.75 MM – then you would have two more arb years of control.
      His K rate is up a bit – 79 in 83 games, but he is not missing any time. He is 27 years old and it would be fun to see what he could do with a real lineup around him.
      You would have to give up quite a load to get him and you would be bidding against other interested parties.

      As far as I go – I’m looking for more bullpen assistance. Neris has gone shaky on us and Maton likes to give up a run every other appearance and of course we have no lefties until and if Blake Taylor returns and he is really not a high leverage lefty. Now – they could bring up Hunter Brown at some point and make him the new Javier. That might be fun.

      But your base premise – yes this team has been better than any of us thought.

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      • Sorry Dan, yes, Reynolds. I just think he helps solidify the outfield this year and beyond. And you’re right of course, he’d take a haul. Too darn bad that Whitley has not helped us. Was he put in Sugarland in the hope he’d turn some heads and become marketable again?

        Can’t argue with the idea of pen assistance. The centerfielder is likely a long shot. But there are arms out there and some at rental rates.

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      • I know a lot of you gave up on Whitley years ago, but what do you want to see happen. He needs some experience at AAA but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. I don’t want to make excuses for him – especially given how his poor decisions have hurt his career – but missing 2020 and the lockout last season preventing him from being at team facilities for rehab probably impacted him more than just about anyone else in the system. The stuff is there for him to excel at AAA if he can stay on the field. My personal opinion is he needs a lot of reps. He dominates low level competition on stuff alone, but I see a lot of strikeouts coming on pitches that miss the mark. Those may miss bats in the low minors but would find the bleachers in the big leagues.

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  18. The recent return [with a splash] of Jake Meyers [presently slashing .314/.333/.804], together with the resurgence of Alex Bregman and to a lesser extent Yuri Gurriel, as well as the emergence of Korey Lee as a better back-up catcher than 2022-vintage Jason Castro have made it seem less important to either go get a rental or swing a big trade for a position player for the playoffs.

    But we still have to think of the future. How long will Brantley and Gurriel be able to play at ‘prime’ level? What happens when JV hangs it up – or decides to move on? Barring bad injury news, I think rentals (like Benintendi, who will probably go to the Yanks anyway) are unlikely. Hopefully, however, the F.O. will try to use the leverage we presently have by being odds-on favorites to go deep in the playoffs to load us up for the future.

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    • Mr. Bill, the initial results from Jake make it easier not to do anything extremely costly in the outfield, at least for right now. But I’m still dubious. And it’s something that will need to be addressed for 2023, if not now. We’ll find out soon.

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      • To me it is all about cost/benefit analysis. What level of improvement can we get at what price/cost to the system. We not only have to improve performance, we have to correspondingly improve the bottom line.

        The biggest question marks I see with Jake Meyers – in who the F.O. obviously sees a lot of potential – are two-fold: 1. strikeout per at-bat ratio, and 2. home run per at-bat ratio. Regarding the former, in his minor league career Jake struck out at a rate of 22% per at-bat. This year, in limited at bats, he’s striking out at a rate of 31% (down a little from last year’s high-K rate, but still way too high, and definitely something to watch). If that high-K rate continues, we have a problem [see Siri, Jose and McCormick, Chaz]. In light of Jake’s high BA, good OBP, and high run-producing numbers this year, however, I suspect the brass may want to give him a little more time to work on his strikeout per at-bat ratio before selling the farm to replace him – unless they are getting Willy Mays in return. Regarding the home runs per at-bat, Jake hit 16 HRs in his last full year at AAA – one in every 17 or so at bats. Jose Altuve’s MLB career home run per at bat ratio is one in every 33 or so at bats.

        Jake is not Willy Mays; but then again, neither is Bryan Reynolds [career 24% strikeout per at-bat ratio, with 1 HR per every 24.8 at-bats].

        The question is: at what price would whatever upgrade we might get from shucking Jake in favor of Bryan R. be cost-effective?

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  19. I suggest that the Astros are not just halfway there, but, to bring in Lone Star’s song, they are Already There.
    The depleted minor league prospect prospect list is full of low rated prospects that the Astros are going to need to use to fill in for or replace aging players.
    They don’t have the ammo to go trade for upgrades, but they don’t necessarily need upgrades.
    If LMJ returns healthy by the beginning of September, they could possibly have 8 dependable starting pitchers that they could depend on in October.
    That means they could put as many as four of those guys in the bullpen and eliminate bullpen guys who haven’t proven they can be depended on under pressure.
    Seriously consider that the Astros pick four of those guys as starters and use the other four in relief, with them being able to be used in short or long relief in the playoffs and not having to depend on Phil Maton or Abreu, who they don’t put in when the Astros are in a tight game.
    On offense or defense, the nine guys Uncleknuckle names early in the comments is the lineup they want to have ready and healthy for the playoffs with Dubon, Chaz, Diaz and a catcher as their bench.
    The playoffs are a completely new game, where you play your nine starting position players almost exclusively because you have days off in the middle of each series and you use your bench in big situations, pinch runners, or as late inning defensive replacments.
    Teams are going to want the Astros best prospect in trades and we don’t have many. I see the Astros going after one reliever, maybe, and trying to keep their best prospects to help out in 2023 and later.

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  20. The MLB Draft starts Sunday night. All Sunday games that day are afternoon games, so that baseball fans will tune in to the draft. This weekend is The Open Championship from St. Andrews also.
    I apologize for my rambling and misspelling above. I am not so sharp anymore and things are not the same in life as they were before.
    My eighth starting pitcher is Hunter Brown, whom I hope will be brought up in September, because he will need to be protected this offseason anyway.

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  21. I am presuming that we will not see either Alvarez or Brantley before the All-Star Break. And I have to wonder how much we will see Maton [36 appearances, 35.2 IP] Neris [38 appearances, 35 IP to date], Montero [35 appearances, 33.2 IP to date], or Stanek [31 appeaerances, 28.2 IP to date] in that time. I suspect we’ll see a little of Pressley [26 appearances, 24 IP to date] and a lot of Martinez, Abreu, Bielak; maybe a return of Paredes; and perhaps even a call-up of Hunter Brown. So, who among our relief or starting corps feels a ‘big toe inflammation coming on?

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