About that Astros’ 2022 offense

Anyone with a modicum of perception knows that the Astros rode superlative starting and relief pitching with above-average, but not a great offense to the World Championship.

It may come as a surprise just how good the Astros’ offense was. This is partly because offense has been falling across baseball to the point that MLB has instituted the no-shift rule for the 2023 season. Here are some numbers for the 2022 Astros offense….

  • 737 runs (third in the AL)
  • 214 HRs (second)
  • .248 BA (fifth)
  • .319 OBP (fourth)
  • .743 OPS (third)

That is more than decent, but Astro fans have had their perspective changed by a season like:

  • 2017 – 896 runs (first), 238 HRs (second), .282 BA (first), .346 OBP (first), .824 OPS (first)

But back to reality….

One way I like to look at things with the Astros is in comparison to other teams or to other players that play the same position. Relative to this – I like to look at the following website, where you can click on it and slice and dice the stats.

 2021 MLB Team Hitting Stats | MLB.com

Using that resource, here is what the Astros’ hitting stats look like by position. It accumulates the stats for everyone on the team who played a particular position. And it looks like this….

Pos BA OBP OPS HRs RBIs
C .187 (14th in AL) .246 (T14th in AL) .565 (14th in AL) 17 (8th in AL) 61 (10th in AL)
1B .235 (10th) .285 (12th) .656 (12th) 14 (13th) 62 (13th)
2B .272 (7th) .355 (2nd) .834 (1st) 30 (1st) 62 (8th)
SS .251 (6th) .288 (10th) .702 (7th) 24 (T 3rd) 72 (6th)
3B .264 (2nd) .365 (1st) .820 (3rd) 24 (6th) 102 (2nd)
LF .277 (3rd) .363 (1st) .853 (1st) 32 (1st) 98 (1st)
CF .210 (13th) .270 (14th) .598 (12th) 11 (13th) 48 (13th)
RF .261 (1st) .333 (4th) .813 (3rd) 32 (2nd) 116 (1st)
DH .264 (T 2nd) .352 (1st) .828 (2nd) 29 (3rd) 86 (4th)

Thoughts….

  • As awful as the catcher slash stats are – it is amazing that they accounted for 61 RBIs – only one less than the 1st basemen and 2nd basemen
  • Look at those numbers for the 1B (mostly Yuli Gurriel) and realize there can be a great improvement next year. Jose Abreu’s stats would rank as the following vs. the other AL first basemen – .304 (1st)  .378 (1st)  .824 (2nd) 15 HR (11th)  75 RBIs (9th). This is like adding Michael Brantley to the Astros lineup with the potential that Abreu may channel the power he had showed before 2022 and kick up those HR and RBI numbers with all the help around him.
  • Speaking of Michael Brantley, you would expect that if he can stay healthy, it might help the CF stats above. Really? Well, instead of playing Chas McCormick a bunch in LF, trading off with Yordan Alvarez, Chas can spend more time in centerfield and improve the bad numbers there. Looking at Chas’ overall numbers against the centerfielders for all teams – he would rank… .245 BA (11th), .332 OBP (2nd), .738 OPS (5th). And if you factored his ABs from his 359 ABs to a standard season of 550 ABs. he would have had 22 HRs (5th) and 69 RBIs (7th).

Note – don’t look too closely at how Chas hit in CF in 2022 (.217 BA/.285 OBP/ .640 OPS) vs. LF (.235 BA/ .352 OBP/ .730 OPS) vs. RF (.378 BA/ .462 OBP/ 1.173)…..Holy smokes, Kyle Tucker don’t look over your shoulder.

  • I was pinging on Tucker and Alex Bregman over their low batting averages in 2022. But, haha – Tucker’s BA is better than any team’s RFs put up, and Bregman is second compared against other 3Bs.
  • You would think that the Astros’ DH numbers would be better than shown, considering Yordan Alvarez won the DH award in 2022. Well, of course, the reason these numbers are down is that Yordan only played 77 games at DH, which meant his teammates filled in the other 85 games (and dragged the numbers down).

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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30 comments on “About that Astros’ 2022 offense

  1. One would expect the 1B numbers to improve. However, I was surprised to find out that Yuli actually led the team with 40 doubles last year. That was the quietest 40-double season in memory.

    I hope Jeremy can improve the SS numbers with better plate discipline.

    The CF numbers should improve with no Siri and hopefully less Dubon.

    I expect Hensley, Diaz or even Meyers to outperform Goodrum’s offensive output.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We had a pretty darn good team last year. Some of us spent time lamenting our lack of offense.

    Rookie Pena, a guy we had no idea how he’d perform ended up above league average at short in all areas except OBP. AstroNut, this would be an excellent place for him to improve.

    Put Chas out in center and leave him alone.

    With a healthy Brantley, we might sweep DH and LF.

    Our new Abreu will change first base production in a big way. I continually read, even from some of the press, that we need to hold onto Yuli. We all love the guy. He’s been great for Houston and I do think he’ll be back soon in some kind of role with the organization, but Abreu was a very important upgrade to the club for 2023. And there is no viable back up role for Yuli to play.

    I’m not worried about a guy like Lee getting the back up catchers job if he is sound defensively and can learn from Maldy at the same time. I’ve said this already. If he hits .200 with some pop, that’s plenty for this team.

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  3. Catching numbers should be up a little if for no other reason than Lee/Diaz have to bring more to the table than Castro did last season and hopefully more than they did in their first cup of coffee.

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  4. The team’s offense was down considerably from 2021 in the following categories:
    Runs scored
    RBIs
    Team Batting average
    Team OBP
    Team SLG
    Team BABIP
    Team wRC+
    Team Accumulated WAR
    Team wOBA
    The team BB% was down slightly
    The team K% was up slightly.
    The team’s offense was down last season from the previous season, when they lost the WS.
    The team’s pitching was up last season from the previous season and they won the WS.
    The team knows they couldn’t pay $43.4 million to Verlander in 2023, so their offense needs to go back up to match the 2021 season’s level to make up the difference in their pitching staff if they plan to win the 2023 WS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some folks may say that the Astros dip was reflecting an offensive dip throughout baseball. But picking out one number (and this is a number Devin still likes in the next comment) RBIs – what do we see? RBIs were down 5.2% throughout baseball in 2022 from 2021. However,the Astros RBIs went from 834 to 715 – 14.2% between the two seasons. That is significant.
      When you break down that number – you see by position
      1B – 99 down to 62 RBIs (Yuli’s collapse)
      2B – 91 down to 62 RBIs (The 7 thru 9 positions in the lineup stunk – so Altuve had a lot less to drive in)
      SS – 95 down to 72 RBIs (Partly Correa, but also a better season in 2021 by Aledmys)
      CF – 76 down to 48 RBIs (Dubon, Meyers, Siri, Chas – A lot of stinky ABs)
      DH – 93 down to 86 RBIs (less ABs for Yordan as DH)
      C – 53 up to 61 RBIs (doesn’t make sense but it happened)
      LF, RF and 3B were all within 3 of the previous season – 2 up and one down – minimal effect

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m the guy who thinks batting average, RBI, and wins by starting pitchers are all still stats that are relevant as long as you’re not basing salary decisions off them. In the case of Tucker, he dropped from .294 in 2021 to .257 in 2022. I’m sure some of this was “luck” as there were quite a few loud outs early in the season where the fielders didn’t have to move. I think the bigger factor is he only walked 59 times. I suspect this will increase as more teams pitch around him.

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    • Some stats relative to Tucker between 2021 and 2022…
      – Despite his BA dip – his RBIs went up from 92 to 107
      – His BABIP – Batting Average for balls in play (which can be considered a measure of luck ) dipped from .304 to .261 with around .300 being normal league average
      – His walk % went up a bit from 9.4 to 9.7%
      – His K% went down a tad from 15.6 to 15.2%
      However, what also could have affected his “luck”…
      – Line Drive % went down from 27.1 to 22%, while his Fly Ball % went from 33,7 to 37.7%
      – His hard hit% (balls with exit velocity of 95 MPH and above)
      – His Pull % went from 26.4 to 32.4%
      – His Opposite field % stayed the same ,but his Centerfield% dipped from 58.2 to 52.1%

      All to say – that he may have made his own luck, by hitting less line drives and pulling more balls into the shift.

      On the plus side and the reason he drove in more runs in 2022
      His slash with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP) went from
      .259 BA/ .340 OBP/ .836 OPS to .303/.375/.934 and 75 RBIs

      His slash with RISP and two outs rose even more impressively
      .234 BA/.319 OBP/.710 OPS to .297/.392/.908

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    • I agree there were a lot of loud outs. I noticed a few liners that went right into the shift.

      He also hit some warning track shots that were tracked down and will go down as flyball outs.

      I think at times he was looking to work his launch angle and hit more homers. If that is the case it’s natural, homers make money. The shift rules should help his BABIP tremendously and put 20 points back on his average. Pure speculation at my risk, just a feeling I had watching his at bats early.

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  6. There’s only one guy I’d expect to see some regression from and that’s Altuve. Maybe Alvarez too, but with him, we might also see more. AstroNut mentioned the bench. I agree that we should see more from those guys too.

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  7. Very thorough Dan. I don’t know where you find the time.

    If a guy hits .240 with a .320 OBP and double digit bangers from the 8 spot I don’t know how we could ask for more. Now that’s assuming with a combination of experience and a little confidence boost from top 10 lists and a good playoff showing his performance will see a slight bump.

    I think prognostication in baseball is a practice of patterns. Most baseball players that fit Jeremy Pena’s profile before never turned into stars. Now, most of them were good. Khalil Greene was a fine hitter for 5-6 years. So was Ian Desmond. So was Stephen Drew. These are hitters that matched his profile to date at a similar age. Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera. Two more. All were fine hitters. Multiple All stars in that list. But I don’t see him breaking out into stardom. I think he just doesn’t own the plate enough, like all these guys, he could get overmatched at times. Guys just don’t move from 24% K rate/3% BB rate to 18/10 – the area you see superstars at. But I’ll enjoy a guy that will never be Correa but will still be pretty good for a while, especially because he doesn’t hamstring the rest of your roster by making 35M. If he hits .260 next year and crosses 20 HR again, that is fine!

    Chas is in the same boat. Patterns. Now whats interesting is he shares a spot with Jayson Werth. I think that’s a fair comparison. And Jayson Werth was a mighty fine CFer. For a long time. But he also shares stats/age with guys you have never heard of.

    Is it possible that Chas actually has more upside as a hitter than Pena? I doubt it, because we already have stats that suggest Chas struggles with 95+ and Pena doesn’t, and more and more pitchers are sitting in that area. But patterns are showing, maybe there is a glint of hope there for Chas.

    Yes patterns gave us AJ Reed. They can be misleading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steven – many times it takes longer to come up with the idea than to actually put together the post. And of course I can kind of multi-task on ideas while my work day is going on.
      This post took a little longer than others because of just pulling all those numbers together – but probably no more than 2 hours total.
      I’ve gotten faster over time anyways.
      I think Pena will be an interesting person to watch over time. I know he has real problems with his pitch selection and whiffing on sliders (like Biggio and Altuve). But I also saw him really concentrate in the playoffs and do a better job of laying off those pitches and making them pitch to him. Can he turn that switch on more often in the regular season? I hope he queues up the ALCS and WS ABs and tries to apply that to his own improvement.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. MLBTraderumors has been running a series of live chats with former and present MLB players. Today they had a chat with former Pirates (and others) catcher Michael “Fort” McKenry.
    He answered one of my questions….(I’m guessing Jonathan Lucroy may differ relative to the 6′-4″ Jake M)
    Dan P
    11:27 Before the rules changes to try and limit/mitigate the number of collisions at home plate – who did you hate to see flying toward you down the third base line
    Michael McKenry
    11:28 Any dude under 6 foot they always hit the best because they went low and catch you with all the force coming up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll add that stats can be misleading – what if a team wins a game 12-2 one day, but loses the next two in the series 3-2 and 4-1? They outscored their opponents 15-9 in the series but loses two games. Sometimes the stats get ran up by beating up one or two pitchers, and then not hitting the rest, but those stats are there buffering the end result.

    I prefer to look at the things that will create opportunities in low scoring games – and we do those very well. We were the second hardest team in baseball to strikeout, and that won’t change this year. Keep in mind the team with the lowest strikeout percentage, Cleveland, is a team not well known for offense, but wins. They win because contact can create in close games. We were a point higher in exit velocity, hard hit %, and line drive rates then average.

    Bad news for last year – we were near the bottom in the league in BABIP. Good news for this year – we were the most defensed team in the league against the shift and lost an incredible 207 hits as a team to the shift – almost 20 more than the second closest. We are likely to see the biggest uptick.

    Everything points to this team, if it stays healthy, of being a top 5 run producer that should be near the top of the league in 1 run and 2 run games winning percentage.

    It’s an exciting time to be an Astros fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Some interesting 2022 batting stuff:
    *Altuve destroyed left-hand pitching and wasn’t near as good against RHP. He had a terrible April with a strained hammy.
    * On the other hand, Bregman destroyed right hand pitching and wasn’t near as good against lefties. Go figure! Like Altuve, he had a rough start, with poor April and May. Bregman finished the season with 87 walks and 77 strikeouts.
    * Yuli Gurriel’s 2022 slash line: .242/.288/.360/.647
    *Jose Abreu’s 2022 slash line: .304/.378/.446/.824
    * Yuli Gurriel hit 40 doubles. Jose Abreu hit 40 doubles.

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  11. Dana Brown was VP of scouting for the Braves the last 4 seasons….
    – Drafted Michael Harris 3rd round 2019 – 2022 ROY
    – Drafted Spencer Strider 4th round 2020 – 2022 ROY runnerup
    – Drafted Vaughn Grissom 11th round 2019 – In 41 game callup in 2022 slashed .291 BA/ .353 OBP/ .791 OPS
    – Drafted Shea Langeliers in 1st round 2019 – key component of trade for Matt Olsen
    – Drafted Bryce Elder 5th round 2019 – brought up in 2022 and pitched solidly (2-4, but 3.19 ERA in 9 starts and 1 relief appearance)

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