Repeats abound in ChipalattAwards for May 2019

Despite nagging injury problems (Jose Altuve, George Springer, Aledmys Diaz, Carlos Correa, Collin McHugh and Max Stassi – well maybe not Stassi), the Astros posted a strong 20-8 record in May. It was a team effort as even the lowest players on the totem pole helped out in those 20 wins.

Here are awards to the standouts for the month.

Starting Pitcher of the Month. Justin Verlander. If he keeps pitching like this he may be able to retire this award. In the month of May he was 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA and a microscopic 0.594 WHIP. The following numbers against him are insanely impressive  .124 BA / .171 OBP/ .476 OPS. He treats the league like they are all a bunch of pitchers hitting. He is good for a solo home run every start or so, but usually that is all the man gives up.

Runner-up.  Brad Peacock. Peacock performed like a top of the line pitcher for the month going 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.102 WHIP. He was obviously a step down from Verlander, but who isn’t these days? Like Verlander and Wade Miley, he gives the Astros a good shot to win every time out.

Last Month – Justin Verlander was the winner and Wade Miley was the runner-up.

Everyday Player of the Month.  George Springer. Based on pure run production, this could easily be Alex Bregman, but Springer was not that far back during his 18 games played in the month. Springer put up a .368 BA/ .432 OBP/ 1.212 OPS with 20 runs scored, 8 HRs and 19 RBIs. It was a total shame he was interrupted by the injury bug.

Runner-up.  Alex Bregman. It was tough to not give it to Bregman in a month he set the club record for HRs in May. He was very good, but not as consistently great as Springer. In May, Alex had a .260 BA/ .363 OBP/ .998 OPS with 23 runs scored, 12 HRs and 24 RBIs.

Last Month – George Springer was the winner and Michael Brantley was the runner-up.

Relief Pitcher of the Month.   Ryan Pressly. In May, Pressly set the MLB record for most consecutive scoreless appearances (40) running back to August 2018. He did finally prove human and gave up a solo HR, but he continued to be nails in the late innings. On the month he was 0-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings and allowed a puny .163 BA/ .196 OBP/ .441 OPS.

Runner-up.  Will Harris. Harris has been the stealth reliever this year and it could easily be argued that he should have won this month’s award. He was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 0.828 WHIP in 9.2 IP. He gives the Astros a great third choice in late inning situations.

Last Month – The winner was Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna was the runner-up.

Biggest Surprise (Positive). Josh James.  In April, James looked like baseball had figured him out after his success at the end of 2018. But he settled down and did a fine job of giving the Astros a multi-inning option out of the bullpen. In May, he posted 2-0, 2.93 ERA in 15.1 IP and 25 K’s.

Runner-up.  Aledmys Diaz. The new addition from Toronto got off to a poor start with the team in April, but he made up for it in May (especially subbing for the injured Altuve) putting up .339 BA/ .383 OBP/ .942 OPS with 12 runs scored, 3 HRs and 13 RBIs. He was playing good defense along with providing improved offense when he unfortunately went down with a hamstring injury.

Last Month – Wade Miley was the winner with Josh Reddick as the Runner-up

Biggest Disappointment.  Jose Altuve. Sure he missed most of the month with an injury, but he was doing very little before that considering he had Springer and Bregman in front of him and Brantley and Correa behind him. In 9 games he was hitting .226 BA/ .339 OBP/ .656 OPS and had 6 runs scored, 0 HRs and 1 RBI.

Runner-up.  Tyler White. You have the chance to be the main DH for a World Series contender based on some good hitting in 2018 and you do like White did in May – .185 BA/ .247 OBP/ .539 OPS with 5 runs scored, 1 dinger and 8 RBIs. Yuck.

Last Month – The “winner” was Max Stassi with Josh James as the runner-up.

The surprising stat award. Speaking of Mr. Stassi, I would not have guessed he was hitting .240 BA or would have had a .345 OBP. The .585 OPS I could have guessed.

The Paul Bunyan award.  Carlos Correa. Oh, this is not for being a huge slugger. This is the tall tale award. Enough said.

Bottom line, do you agree with these awards?

Want to propose awards of your own?


Will Alex Bregman ever hit .300 and does it matter?

It is a statistic that has become almost quaint in the modern world of OPS and WAR and BAbip and wOBA, but Batting Average is a stat that still means something to many fans. A .200 BA was that Mendoza line between hopeless and hapless. A .250 BA was the line between passable and good. And .300 BA? Well those players below .300 were good, solid players while those above it were the very best hitters around.

And here comes Alex Bregman….. Watching him every day he is a terrific, solid, clutch cold eye killer of a hitter. He carried the team on his back for most of 2018. He is out there trying to carry them again in 2019 with the Three Amigos (George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa) on the sideline. But one thing he is not is an over .300 hitter in his admittedly short career.

As a rookie after his call-up in 2016, he started off 0 for 18 and then 2 for 36 before turning things around and slowly rising to a solid .264 BA for the season. In 2017 he was over .300….. after a 1 for 3 on opening day and then got no closer than .288 in late August. In 2018, he was everything to the Astros, leading them in runs (105), hits (170), doubles (51), HRs (31), OBP (.394) and OPS (.926), but falling short (.288) of the .300 mark in BA.

Here in 2019, he was actually over .300 for a fairly good chunk of April, but May has been his huge month for production. Heading into the last game of the month his May has included huge numbers…. 23 runs, 12 HRs, 24 RBIs, .375 OBP, 1.035 OPS and….. a pedestrian .270 BA.

And the question that goes with this is …..Does it really matter? Here we are in 2019 and Bregman is among the top two (with Springer) in all those same categories (runs, HRs, RBIs, OBP, OPS) for the Astros, while sporting the 6th highest batting average.

On top of everything else, Bregman could be having that .300 season already if he had a little bit of luck. His BAbip (Batting Average on Balls in Play) is an unlucky .243. Considering his career BAbip is .293, that is an unexpectedly low number. That number is normally around .300 for the MLB and this season the Astros as a team are hitting .298.

The bottom line here is that Bregman may or may not push across that archaic .300 barrier this season, but it is unlikely to change the fact that he is one of the most productive players in the game.

How the heck can Gerrit Cole be the Astros #4 starter?

There were a limited number of sure things heading into the 2019 season, but one of the sure things for the Astros was that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole would come off their near-Cy Young performances in 2018 to lead the pitching staff and hopefully give good NASCAR drafting to whoever the three fill-ins behind them would be.

While Verlander has been as good or better this season than last, it is hard to look at Cole’s performance this season and say he has been any better than the 4th best starter in the rotation.

Justin Verlander 8-2 2.38 0.744
Gerrit Cole 5-5 4.02 1.047
Wade Miley 5-2 3.32 1.155
Brad Peacock 5-2 3.19 1.025

Those aren’t terrible numbers for Cole, but disappointing a bit vs. his tremendous 2018 season.

Now some folks (and I have been one of those folks) will say, well you just drop that one terrible game from Cole (4.1 IP and 8 ERs) and you have him close to who he really is.

Well to be fair, the following shows each of these four starters with their one worst outing pulled out of their stats…Verlander (4 IP, 4 ER), Wade Miley (4 IP, 3ER) and Brad Peacock (3.2 IP, 7 ER).

Justin Verlander 8-2 2.03 0.663
Gerrit Cole 5-4 3.21 0.936
Wade Miley 5-2 3.09 1.114
Brad Peacock 5-1 2.16 0.900

While looking at their stats through these rose-colored glasses allows Cole to narrow the margin, it still is clear that he is 4th in line (though with very solid numbers). Peacock improved even more after dropping his one worst start.

So, what is happening with Cole this season?

On the plus side, his walks are down (2.3/ 9 IP vs. 2.9 in 2018) and his already MLB leading Ks/9 IP are up (14.1 / 9 IP vs. 12.4 in 2018). But his HRs are up more than 50% to 1.5 per 9 IP and his innings per start are down (5.93 IP/start vs 6.25 in 2018). His luck may be down a bit as the opposition is hitting .310 BABIP (batting average for balls in play). 14% of the flyballs hit against him are HRs, which is almost double last season. He already has as many losses (5) this season as all last year.

In what are called high leverage situations (most pivotal) the opposition is raking .333 BA / .907 OPS this season vs. a meek .216 BA / .574 OPS in 2018.

It would probably be fair to say that his high K output (and the extra pitches required) is helping to lead to less innings per start. It is also possible that his control is working against him in giving up HRs. He is not walking very many hitters and has not hit one batter to date. Maybe he needs to back off a few guys here and there to make sure they are not leaning over the plate and taking advantage of his control.

It would be wrong to not expect him to reach the 2nd spot in production again this season. He has already lowered his ERA more than a point since his lost game in Arlington last month and he has shown to be a real workhorse for this team.

But for the time being, if you said he has been the fourth best starter on this team to date…you wouldn’t be wrong.

Memorial Day and other memories

Dan P’s on the road today with his wife and youngest son in Fredericksburg. A bit of irony being here at the start of the Memorial Day weekend as Fredericksburg is the home to the very fine Nimitz Museum of the War in the Pacific. Admiral Nimitz was from here and was Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during WWII.

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Looking at Player X the best positional free agent signed for 2019

Coming out of an off-season where some free agent contracts had lots of zeroes in them and we are talking TONS of them, lets take a look at the positional player who has been the best (So Far) for his new team. For the moment we will call him Player X and we will look at his numbers against a bunch of the other top free agents signed this season. (All stats through Tuesday 5-14-19).

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