Astros at the quarter pole in ’23

The Astros have bobbed past the quarter pole of the season, technically halfway through the game on Monday. This is a good time to take a look at how the team looks vs. its competitors a month and a half into the season.

All statistics are through Sunday’s games…..

Astros Offense

Astros .238 (7th in AL) .307 (10th in AL) .672 (13th in AL) 35 (13th in AL) 165 (T 11th in AL) 4.38 (10th in AL)

It doesn’t take long to look at this horseshoe. The Astros .672 OPS is really bad, and as is normal with OPS, this is driving a poor runs per game. Along with having Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley out and underperformance from Jose Abreu, Alex Bregman, and Martin Maldonado, this also reflects too many at bats for someone like David Hensley. The lack of power by the team is what is hurting them, but their on-base percentage is pretty bad also.

Looking at this in more detail and by position – the numbers below reflect cumulative numbers for the Astros, including all players who manned that position as compared to other teams in the American League.  

1B .203 (14th in AL) .244 (15th in AL) .485 (15th in AL) 0 (15th in AL) 15 (T 13th in AL)
2B .278 (2nd) .310 (4th) .650 (8th) 0 (T 14th) 9 (T 13th)
SS .255 (7th) .302 (9th) .729 (4th) 6 (T 4th) 21 (T 5th)
3B .199 (13th) .316 (5th) .641 (10th) 5 (T 4th) 16 (T 11th)
LF .278 (5th) .333 (7th) .797 (4th) 6 (T 3rd) 29 (T 4th)
CF .243 (11th) .325 (9th) .711 (11th) 4 (9th) 18 (11th)
RF .262 (4th) .347 (2nd) .775 (6th) 6 (9th) 26 (5th)
DH .203 (13th) .287 (13th) .652 (13th) 6 (T 6th) 21 (9th)
C .191 (14th) .270 (13th) .552 (14th) 2 (14th) 13 (T 12th)

As would be expected per the “eye” test – 1B, 3B, and C are pretty low, along with CF, which has been hurt with Chas McCormick missing time. The biggest surprise is that the DH numbers are so bad. Yordan, shame on you!

Truth to tell, this is a combination of Yordan not hitting as well when he is the DH and when he plays LF and one other thing. First, Yordan’s numbers are still quite good (.262 BA/ .372 OBP/ .910 OPS). The problem is that all other players manning the DH spot are slashing a cumulative (.156 BA/ .229 OBP/ .482 OPS), which is miserable. This is due to all the at bats David Hensley has spent at DH. This is definitely a spot that is missing Michael Brantley badly.

The numbers for the starters and relievers compared to their competitors in the AL appear as follows.

  ERA WHIP Innings Saves
Astro Starters 3.31 (3rd in AL) 1.21 (5th in AL) 220.1 (T 6th) N/A
Astro Relievers 3.33 (5th in AL) 1.18 (2nd in AL) 143.1 (12th in AL) 11 (6th)

The starters’ numbers are almost miraculous when you remember that Justin Verlander is gone, Lance McCullers Jr. has yet to pitch, Luis Garcia is gone for the season, and Jose Urquidy hasn’t pitched in weeks.

Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier have been solid, if a step below 2022, but the performances of youngsters Hunter Brown and J.P. France, plus AAAA Brandon Bielak have helped sustain a frankly great performance by a rotation that should be suffering at this point.

The performance of the relievers may be a bit of a surprise, especially with the struggles of Ryne Stanek and Rafael Montero. But strong performances by Hector Neris, Phil Maton, and Bryan Abreu along with closer Ryan Pressly have led the bullpen to a very good performance so far.

It is no doubt that through the quarter pole of the season, the pitching has carried the team. The recent uptick of the offense, along with the eventual return of the wounded, may make the next quarter a much better one for the team.



44 comments on “Astros at the quarter pole in ’23

  1. A couple of quick thoughts for now.

    Good time to move away from the Chas conversation. He can speak for himself.

    Really incredible what we’ve gotten from our makeshift rotation. We know it won’t always go so well, but without this group, we’d be in a pretty big hole right now. They’ve thrown enough innings to make things manageable for the pen.

    Maybe it was a very good thing that someone did not decide to give Verlander what he wanted. Some of the Mets unfaithful are already packing it in.

    Gosh, with so many bats on the shelf, and with Bregman and Abreu having lost their bats, it’s still rather shocking that we are right in it.

    I have to give Frenchy the spark plug award. Heck, where would we be without his contribution?

    Later on I’ll talk about a couple of things that I’d like to see happen in the next couple of months. And how long do we stay with Abreu if he does not find his way?


  2. Wow!! What a last two innings. Down 6-1 and score 2 in the 8th and 4 in the 9th. Jake with a two run blast in the 9th, Dubon gets a walk, Pena a double, Bregman a walk and Tucker a two run single. Yee- Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That worked out great for me. It was Mrs. Dan P and my 43rd anniversary, so we went out to eat, came home and watched a movie and then tuned into the Astros in the 9th and the first pitch I saw was Meyers taking the reliever deep.
    After Pena’s double that put Mauricio at 3rd and Pena at 2nd with no out – they walked Bregman to pitch the lefty against Yordan. I was not sure I would ever see the opposition load the bases for Yordan, but it worked (temporarily) when Yordan grounded into a force at home. But KTuck put a good swing on a two strike pitch and Bregman chugged home (man he does not move too fast anymore).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Anniversary the Mr. and Mrs. Dan!

    Two totally different games. Astros with 4 hits and a run through 6. Cubs with zeros after the 4th.

    I’m most pleased that Yordan was able to go 0-5 and have his club pick him up with 13 hits on the night and a batch of huge hits late.

    That was close at the plate with Bregman running. Corey Julks might have scored standing up.

    Good win.


      • Dan, glad we can laugh about it this morning, but we’ve got to use the bench when there is a viable circumstance for its use. Was Dusty keeping Bregman in the game to save him for the 10 inning in case we only tied it in the 9th?


      • So with Hensley and Diaz in the lineup and Dubon pinch hitting for Hensley the bench was Julks and Maldy.
        He could have pinch run Julks for Bregman and left Dubon in the game at 3rd. Julks would have scored easily compared to Bregs


  5. Quite a game. I watched the first 4 innings, when France got pulled I got up and played some video games, turned back on in the 7th, and just watched laying in bed. Crazy win. Bullpen did their job last night and gave the offense that chance. Dubon pulled in that tough walk, going up 3-0, the pitcher grooving 2 because he guessed (correctly) that Frenchy would be taking, and then he laid off that very good just below the zone slider. You can argue the pitcher should have gotten it to the bottom of the zone, and he was certainly aiming for it and missed, but you have to give Dubon credit for staying off a 3-2 pitch that was out of the zone by an inch – the movement makes it very difficult to tell.

    Meyers really plopped that ball. It wasn’t even a terrible pitch, maybe up a little more than he wanted but it was on the inside edge Meyers just got around on it. Jake should be in the lineup the next 2-3 days now to see if that pop pays off in the confidence. His season so far has been very Meyers-esque but try and ride that boost for next few days.

    You are right Dan. It was really bad on the replay when they showed the angle from behind the plate. It looked like Bregman should have been very safe and the play turned close. He was halfway to third when that ball landed and the CFer fielded it a little deep, and Bregman looked like he was going to take an hour to get around third and get home. He was running the bases like he never works on his running.


    • For a long time, Bregman has been running like a guy who is trying not to pull his hamstring (which is probably what he is trying not to do). Runs very upright and very controlled.


  6. I guarantee you that the side of Bregman’s left foot is black and blue from the pitch he took off of it earlier.
    I remember the disturbing smack of the impact of my players getting hit by 65-70 MPH fastballs when I was coaching, along with the baseball sized bruises they carried.
    The pitch that hit the outside of Bregman’s foot and ankle was 86 mph with spin.


  7. Dan’s philosophical question of the day.

    It is an awful, terrible, not redeemable action to use technology to steal signs and relay it to the hitter real time.

    Now what if you have a little pointy headed man in a video room watching the game and he notices that every time the pitcher holds his glove a certain way he is throwing a fastball. If he passes this information along and it gets to the hitters as they go up to bat – is that cheating?

    J.P. France says he thinks he was tipping pitches but would not comment further.


    • I don’t have an issue with it. I did find it suspicious the Blue Jays pitcher was so eager to tell everyone he was tipping pitches the other day. In France’s case, I suppose the excuse that he was tipping pitches sounds more palatable than that he kept throwing non-breaking sliders over the inner half of the plate around mid-thigh height.

      Liked by 2 people

      • So maybe he was tipping off “the next pitch I am going to throw will not be where I want to throw it and will end up where you can do me damage.”


  8. A great team win last night with positive contributions from our underperforming 1B, 3B, CF, DH & C positions, and outstanding scoreless relief pitching. But Tucker definitely was the King!

    King Tuck, King Tuck
    Now when he was a young man, he never thought he’d see (King Tuck)
    People stand in line to see his splendid swing (King Tuck)
    How’d you get so funky? (Funky Tuck)
    Climb outfield fences like a monkey?
    Born in Tampa, Florida, could win a Silver Slugger (King Tuck)
    (King Tuck)

    Now if I’d known, they’d line up just to see him (King Tuck)
    I’d taken all my money and bought his rookie card Chrome Edition (King Tuck)
    Runs sneaky fast like a donkey (Sneaky Tuck)
    His shoes are certainly quite swanky
    Born in Tampa, Florida, could win a Silver Slugger (King Tuck)

    Got fans dancing in the aisles (Disco Tuck)
    The ladies love his style (Boss Tuck)
    Launches baseballs a country mile (Launching Tuck)
    Steals bases using guile
    He gives his all for fandom (King Tuck)

    (Tuck, Tuck; Tuck, Tuck)
    Golden Glove
    (Tuck, Tuck; Tuck, Tuck)
    (Tuck, Tuck; Tuck, Tuck)
    He’s an All-Star!
    (Tuck, Tuck; Tuck, Tuck)
    Fantasy leaguers are buying you… (King Tuck)

    Now when I retire, now, you know that I’m a nut (King Tuck)
    Don’t want no fancy pension
    Just one like ol’ King Tuck (King Tuck)
    Won another William Harridge Trophy (King Tuck)
    Burying the Yankees
    Born in Tampa, Florida, could win a Silver Slugger
    He was born in Tampa, Florida…
    His next contract will blow your mind-a
    King Tuck


    • Saw Steve Martin way back when at Hofheinz Pavillion with Steve Goodman (wrote City of New Orleans) as his opener. That was a blast.


  9. To be honest, on France, I didn’t think he was terrible. I think there were things last night that he could keep building on. He threw a first pitch strike to 15 of his 22 batters. He had 18 called strikes that were not offered at. Smyly only had 15 in the same number of batters faced. France had a 65% strike rate.

    It really came down to 4-5 pitches that he wants back. He probably also needed to scout Suzuki better, and if/when he faces him again will probably stay away instead of challenging inside.

    He got some lessons. He learned that you won’t always be successful. He learned guys can turn on mistakes and make you pay. He learned that more bad pitches will be hit in the majors than the minors. And he learned he can make mistakes and sometimes his team can still pick him up, so he can relax. He got some lessons, and we still won the game.

    I am looking forward to him being in the rotation the rest of the year. I hate that we lost Garcia to get him this opportunity, I think Garcia could have his name in Cy Young discussions one day, but France is a story we can all fall in love with. If he gets 25 starts I bet he finishes in the top 5-7 in rookie of the year voting.


  10. The weekend matchups with the Nomad A’s are…

    Brandon Bielak (0-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. Ken Waldichuk (who?) (1-2, 7.02 ERA)

    Hunter Brown (4-1, 3.43 ERA) vs. J.P. Sears (huh?) (0-3, 5.27 ERA)

    Framber Valdez (3-4, 2.84 ERA) vs. Kyle Muller (say what?)(1-3, 7.71 ERA
    A’s are throwing three unknown lefties against us.

    Even an optimist like me has to hope that the Astros are not paying any attention to any of these stats and instead take their current momentum and kick these guys while they are down. Hope that 6 run rally carries over for the team.


    • As the duly-appointed chief cynic for the blog, it is my solemn duty to point out that throughout Astro history this kind of lopsided pitching match-up has always proved to be a recipe for utter disaster for us. We love to make those who are struggling look like Cy Young incarnate.


      • Waldo actually has pretty darn good minor league stats. And he did throw 5 shutout innings last time out. So CC, I hope you’re wrong, but you could be on the something here.


  11. Joey Loperfido keeps hitting wherever he goes. .311, .458, .581, 1.039 in 22 AA games. But the stat I like most is 20 walks against 17 K’s.

    He could end up being the biggest reason why signing Abreu to a 3 year deal might not have been a good idea.


  12. It was good to see the Astros not snooze though a bad game against a bad team – good job by a bunch of folks, especially Bielak (the king of escapes), the bullpen and KTuck.
    Tucker needs to start applying what he’s doing against lefties (don’t fly open) against righties.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s apparent that Diaz no longer catches Brown, but what’s worse is that he’s only caught once since May 8 and has not played since Wednesday after going 2 of 4, raising his average to a somewhat respectable .240. Maybe he’ll get a start tomorrow. Maybe Salazar will!

    Someone else said this earlier, so I don’t feel terribly guilty. I would not mind Maldy developing a sore toe for a week or two.


  14. Here I go again. I just read a Twitter quote from McTaggart, attributed to Dusty.

    “With the schedule the way it is and how we’re playing and how we’re winning, I feel Maldy has a direct correlation between us winning and Maldy catching”.

    The only problem with this is that Diaz is still 7 and 3 as a starter.

    He lost 2-0 against the Giants when Brown pitched a good game.
    He lost that debacle against the M’s when they scored 7 in the 8th.
    And he lost in LA when Montero and Stanek gave that game back late.

    I guess that’s on the catcher. He should be 10 and 0 in his starts.

    At least Dusty is expressing himself. Is he throwing the new kid under the bus while at the same time deflecting Maldy’s decline?

    This is not a very healthy scenario.

    Liked by 1 person

      • sargeh, who knows? But I can’t help but to think there is a disconnect between Dusty and Dana. Two weeks ago our GM clearly stated Diaz is our future behind the plate and would be getting more playing time. The opposite has happened and Dusty’s remarks this morning only further affirmed his opposite position on the matter.

        Maldy got tagged with two throwing errors today, but in fairness, Pena has to at least knock those balls down.

        A fortunate win for the Astros.


    • Steven, of course it’s a small sample, but Yainer leads MLB in caught stealing at 50%. Maldy 24%. No errors for Diaz. 4 for Maldy. No passed balls for Diaz. 3 for Maldy. 2 WP’s for Diaz. 9 for Maldy. Maybe Maldy should get some credit for Brown’s excellent outing yesterday. But does he also get demerits for Framber’s struggle early in the week or France’s tough outing? I’m sure we can look up ERA and WHIP and other stats when Maldy and Brown are behind the plate, but I just don’t know how to break it out.


  15. My next guy is Abreu. At this point, I don’t think he’s going to get fixed. And I was in favor of his signing. The worst part though is we have to let him play 5 days a week and hope an almost miracle happens and he starts to hit again. But I’m not sure why we boosted the offense against the Cubs by moving him to the 5th slot and then put him back at clean up for the A’s. Maybe Dusty is trying the sandwich him in the middle of our two best hitters giving him every chance to see more hittable pitches. Regardless, I do think he’s our regular first baseman, we’ll into the All Star break and probably beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There has to be something going on between Diaz and the coaching staff, right? I’m not in favor of teams making big moves when the winning and the chemistry appears good, but Diaz should be getting more appearances at either C, DH, or 1B. The argument NOT to play him is in case Maldy gets hurt, but what are we carrying Salazar for if that’s the case? Playing in 17 of 45 games is hard to excuse. From the outside, the only thing I can think of are that he’s walked twice in 52 PA, but that’s roughly the same rates Dubon and we’re certainly going to see him inserted all around the diamond now that Altuve is back. If Dubon gets a start at DH I’m going to scream.


      • Devin,

        Julks has more than twice the plate appearances of Diaz with 3 BB and 35 K’s. Julks was a good story early, but today, he’s showing us his reality. Diaz on the other hand seems to rate highly with just about everyone, including our GM, and yet he’s getting less and less time on the field, not even a regular shot at DH. If he’s pissed anyone off, I’d like to hear it. But I think it’s as simple as our manager believing Maldy is indispensable.


  16. If the offense ever catches up to the pitching ….

    Oh well, a win is a win, a series sweep is a series sweep, and running the table on a homestand is nothing to sneeze at.

    Meanwhile, who agrees that Framber should definitely be Jose Abreu’s new best friend?

    Liked by 1 person

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