Looking at the Astros’ first month of the season, your humble servant took a quick look at the summary for last April.
It does not seem possible, but the 2022 team was worse and with the crummy starts of folks like Jake Odorizzi, Jose Urquidy, Martin Maldonado, Bryan Abreu, and others eerily similar to this season with a few names changed here and there.
The team was mediocre again this April (15-13) with a few more built-in excuses due to injuries to Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, and Lance McCullers Jr. leading the way. The hitting is middle of the road in the AL (.245 BA, .320 OBP – both seventh, .698 OPS – eighth, and 4.57 runs/ game – 8th). Their power is way down, as their 27 HRs rank 12th in the league.
The starting pitching has been quite good, relative to the league, despite a few hiccups here and there. Their ERA is 4th at 3.42, but not that far behind the leading Rays at 3.22. Their 1.22 WHIP is a bit lagging at 7th, but their 157.2 innings pitched is third, only trailing 2nd by one inning and only behind the Twins at first because they played an extra game.
The bullpen has a very solid 2.97 ERA that is tied for third in the AL. Their 1.15 WHIP is sixth in the AL, but only 0.02 out of the second spot. And in a very important statistic, they are 14th in innings pitched at 94, meaning the starters are keeping this bullpen from being an overused, worn-down group.
Well, that’s the team’s situation, but we are here to throw a shout-out or perhaps a call-out to individuals on the team for their performances since the beginning of the season.
Note – these April awards include the two games the Astros played in March. Why? Because, like your mom always told you “I said so.”
Here is a quick chart of the Astros’ pitchers since the beginning of the season.
|Name||Gm||W||L||Svs||IP||ERA||WHIP||HR||Ks/9 IP||BAA||OBPA||OPSA||IR/ IS|
Note – I added the IR (Inherited runners) / IS (Inherited runners who scored) stat for the relievers.
Starting Pitcher of the Month. Hunter Brown – Hunter and Framber were neck and neck for the month, but basically, the only area where Framber is ahead is innings pitched. His 1.055 WHIP and the BA/OBP/OPS against are both impressive, but perhaps the most impressive stat is allowing 0 HRs so far this year.
Runner-up. Framber Valdez – His overall numbers are pretty darned good. He has pitched well enough to be better than 2-3 right now. One area that is a bit of a concern and may be tied to having to “hurry” on the mound is the 4 HRs in 39 innings. In 201.1 innings last season, he gave up 11 HRs total, and this year based on that many innings, he is on pace to give up 21 HRs.
Relief Pitcher of the Month. (Tie) Bryan Abreu and Phil Maton – Based on being used in higher leverage situations, this could easily be Abreu’s, but Maton has earned special recognition for having improved so much this year. His .071 BA/ .133 OBP/ .300 OPS against are insane. Abreu has been brilliant also – so we will split the award this month.
Runner-up. Skip this due to the tie.
Special Recognition Award. The Harry Houdini great escape award goes to Rafael Montero, who somehow has a 2.25 ERA despite putting up a 1.500 WHIP and a poor .292 BA/ .346 OBP/ .763 OPS against.
Positional Player of the Month. Yordan Alvarez – His 27 RBIs in only 22 games played stands out. His OPS is great, his BA is below his norm, those 10 extra-base hits are excellent. The key for him obviously is staying healthy – DUH!
Runner-up. Kyle Tucker – He is a step below Yordan in his overall hitting, which means he is probably in the top 10 in baseball. It is interesting to see that with the shift outlawed, all of a sudden both his BA and BABIP are much higher than last year.
Biggest Surprise (Positive). Mauricio Dubon – If you say you knew Dubon was going to jump up and do such a good job offensively as mostly a sub for Jose Altuve, I would say, “You are a liar.”
Runner-up. Corey Julks – He was the biggest surprise to even make the roster. And along with that he has done a good job as a part-timer with a decent batting average and 8 RBIs in 74 ABs.
Biggest Disappointment. This is easy. Jose Abreu – Maybe the Astros should have seen this coming as Abreu had 1 HR in his last 56 games played last season. But they did not give him the big bucks to see him turn into a slap-hitting middle infielder-esque batter. Yes, I know he will heat up with the weather. But he has been playing at home in controlled conditions and still can’t get close to the Crawford Boxes.
Runner-up. I don’t care that he walks more than he Ks. I don’t care that he has a decent OBP, has scored a decent amount of runs, and has a decent number of RBIs. Alex Bregman should not be sucking at the beginning of the season again, and .219 BA for a month for such a good player sucks.
Crazy Stats…..There are a number of them:
- Not sure what is more surprising – Julks with 1 walk in 76 plate appearances or having 1 walk vs. 21 Ks.
- Kyle Tucker, who normally Ks a lot more than walking (90 Ks/ 53 BBs in 2021 and 95 Ks / 59 BBs in 2022) has been channeling his best Bregman with matching 18 Ks and 18 BBs to date.
- It’s the age-old “small sample”, but how can Ryan Pressly hold opposing hitters to .154 BA/ .195 OBP/ .452 OPS and have a 3.97 ERA? Especially compared to Montero.
- When major league hitters put the ball in play (doesn’t strike out) – they normally average about a .300 average on those balls. This is what that stat BABIP designates. The surprise players Dubon (.330 BABIP), Julks (.385), and Meyers (.364) would seem to be in line for some bad luck along the way to drop their numbers a bit more toward normal. Bregman (.230 BABIP) and Martin Maldonado (.200) would hopefully trend up with a little bit of luck.
As usual, it is your turn to comment. Any awards you disagree with? Any you want to award?
Another strange stat: our record against really teams with really good records vs. our record against teams with mediocre to really bad records.
Watching the games it appears to me the umpires are calling more pitches in the strike zone defined by the rulebook as opposed to the one we’re used to them using where anything above the belt was a ball. I wonder how much these more forgiving strike zones are hurting guys like Bregman and Abreu. I also wonder whether this is intentional in an attempt to reduce walks and speed up the game. Obviously that’s something that would hurt both those guys’ more than it hurts someone like Pena who makes up his mind whether the pitch will be a strike before the pitcher starts his windup.
No J.P. France for us; instead we get another round of “Batting Practice” Bielak. I just don’t get it.
Why would you want a guy with a 2.33 ERA/ 1.034 WHIP and 12.1 K/ 9 IP when you can have a guy with a 4.12 ERA / 1.119 WHIP and 8.7 K/ 9 IP?
The only thing showing up really negative for France is the 5.1 walks / 9 IP, but I been there done that with Bielak and would be happy to move on to something else.
Maybe it’s the 5.1 walks per 9 innings for France. It’s the one area he’s not been very good at.
Great minds think alike on a rum filled Labour Day
No rum today!
Dan, as most always, I agree with your awards.
I was going to complain about Bregman tomorrow, but I’ll just throw in a couple of stats and leave it at that.
He generally starts slowly, but not always, and he’s never struggled to this degree in April. His career BA in the first month is .254, and he’s got a .766 OPS.
His present OPS of .697 is easily the worst start of his career.
A couple of other things I noted. His sprint speed is in the 19th percentile. His arm strength is at 29%. His max exit velocity is 25%. That will likely improve but at age 29, his speed and arm strength won’t. I’m wondering if maybe he’s peaked earlier than most guys do.
Ugh! Now Garcia is hurt!
Oh my – we may get to see France soon as now Garcia leaves the game in the first with an injury.
One shoe dropped
Pretty good effort by Bielak.
Sounds like an elbow issue for Garcia. That does not sound very good.
Bielak certainly came in and carried the load admirably last night. Kudos to him. But the Giants had focused all their preparation on Luis Garcia – so Bielak had the advantage of coming at them out of the blue (literally, since we were wearing the Spaceman unis last night). As you correctly pointed out yesterday, JP France has a BB/9 over 5, and that spells absolute disaster in the MLB. Our minor league affiliates are bereft of pitching help, so … waiver wire, here we come!
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Can Dubon pitch?
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I’m pretty sure they would bring up France if Garcia is put on the IL.
France has a lot of minor league experience, is 28 years old and has pitched pretty well. They added him to the 40-man to protect him last fall, so I’d say it is probably his time.
Not sure why Frenchy had to suggest the Giants did not treat him very well. They gave him three years, it did not work out and then they found a home for him with a team that could not have been more patient with him. Oh, and then he got a WS ring.
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Hey, we don’t care if anger is misplaced or deserved as long as it works…
Ok, I’m going to get angry over the loss of Jose and Luis!