Being tied for last place with the Pirates is not exactly the penthouse we as Astros fans want them to inhabit. Could life we worse than 12-17 at this point in the season? Absolutely. Taking our schedule difficulty into perspective, we're actually better doing better than our Pythagorean Record. The expected winning percentage for the Astros heading into last night's game against San Diego was .398. This is a testament in large part to their inadequate offensive output thus far.
What can be done about this? For starters, a struggling offense correlates more towards a low slugging percentage than low on base percentage, at least in recent seasons. Here's the break down of the most recent data I could find showing the correlation between four widely used offensive metrics (AVG, OBP, SLG, ISO (isolated slugging percentage)) and run scoring:
Source: Perry, Dayn. Winners.
For what it's worth both batting average and on base percentage have both had a decreasing correlation with run scoring since the late 1800s. The Astros' team slugging percentage of .394 is considerably lower than in 2008 (.415). Whereas their OBP was higher this season than last season, the numbers are now less favorable. Hitting with runners in scoring position could go a long ways to softening the blow of a lighter hitting unit, as well. But with BABIP wreaking havoc on that statistic, it's more difficult (and frustrating) to watch the Astros struggle to plate runners on second and/or third base.
Simply writing that more power is necessary sounds nice, but in baseball rarely is anything ever that straight forward. Bearing that in mind, I think that if Lance Berkman snaps out of it and Roy Oswalt can win games, the Astros record will improve. How's that for simple?