The season isn't even a day old, but we're going to start with the post-mortem. This first article in a series over the next few weeks will ease you into it. I'm not going to do much straight-up analysis, but provide you with some facts and stats that jumped out about the 2010 season that was.
Let's break down some numbers. The Astros scored 611 runs this season and gave up 729. That makes for a Pythagorean record of 68-94, so the Astros beat their expected winning percentage by eight games.
It was also the lowest runs scored total since 1992, when that team scored 608. The Astros gave up fewer runs than they had since 2007, but those 729 were still more than all but four seasons from 1970-2007. The Astros also used 47 batters, tying the franchise record set in 1967. Houston also used 25 pitchers, which tied 2001 for the most in franchise history. It was also the first time since 2000 that the Houston batter's average age was less than 30 years old.
None of that is surprising. This was obviously one of the worst Astros offenses in recent memory. The pitching was good and better at times than any other moment in Ed Wade's tenure, but it still wasn't the same kind of pitching staff that the Astros had earlier this decade.
Houston also locked up the ninth overall pick in the June 2011 draft (ed. note: as Farmstros reminded me this morning, two compensation picks in the top 10 mean the Astros will pick No. 11, meaning the rest of this paragraph is null and void. Sorry). It'll be the first time since 1969-70 that the Astros have picked in the top 10 for two consecutive years. Of course, back in 1969, that top 10 pick (No. 2 overall) turned out to be J.R. Richard. Let's hope DDJ turns out to have the same impact on the team.
With all the talk about attendance this season, the Astros ended up drawing 2,331,490 fans to 81 games, averaging 28,784 per game. That's the lowest total since 1997 and ranked 10th out of 16 teams in the National League. It's the first time since 1994 that Houston hasn't finished at least ninth or highest in the NL in attendance.
A couple of other quirky statistical things about this team. The 2010 Astros pitching staff had an ERA of 4.09 and 1,210 strikeouts. That's the lowest team ERA since 2006 and the highest strikeout total since 2004. RIght now, Baseball Reference has the Astros WHIP listed as 1.225, which would be the team's lowest total since 1971. That's pretty incredible, right? Except it's an error. The actual WHIP should be 1.38, which is not as good, and is the team's highest total since 2004. Houston also finished fifth in the majors in saves with 45. Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon each had 20 saves. It's the first time since the 1992 Reds that a team has had two 20 save guys on one team.
Houston also gave up 140 home runs this season, which is the lowest total in history at Enron Field/Minute Maid Park. Even accounting for the 8 percent drop in home runs around the league this season, Houston's pitching staff still showed a marked ability to avoid giving up homers. It was the third straight season the Astros had at least 10 shutouts and four complete games.
Offensively, the picture is more bleak. The Astros did hit 108 home runs, which was the franchise's lowest total since 1992. Again, that's not just an 8 percent decline from the 142 homers Houston hit in 2009. This team just couldn't hit for much power. The 252 doubles Houston hit was the lowest team total since the strike shortened 1994 season and the lowest since 1992 in a full season.
You have to go back one more year to 1991 to find a team that had a lower OPS than this year's .665. It's even worse for on-base percentage. Houston's .303 was the franchise's lowest since 1970 and the fourth-lowest in franchise history. On the plus side, the Astros stole 100 bases in 136 attempts. Houston hasn't been caught stealing less times in a season where they stole 100 bases.
What's that? You want more? After the jump, we'll hit up each month of the season to see what happened.
Record - 8-14
70 runs scored, 99 runs allowed
Best series - Apr. 23-25, a sweep of Pittsburgh; Houston scored 19 runs and gave up eight while bringing themselves within two games of .500.
Worst series - Apr. 5-7, a sweep by San Francisco; Houston was shut out once and gave up 10 runs in the finale. Set a bad tone for the rest of the season.
Notes: An eight-game losing streak opened the season and another eight-game losing streak began at the end of this month. Three one-run victories in Chicago and against Florida helped salvage each of those series, but the rest of the month was horrible.
Record - 9-20
85 runs scored, 157 runs allowed
Best series - May 11-13, a sweep of St. Louis. Myers, Rodriguez and Norris each got a victory while LIndstrom saved all three games. Astros scored 19 runs but gave up 10 and pulled within eight games of .500.
Worst series - May 28-30, lost two of three in Cincinnati; Houston gave up 27 runs in the two losses and 41 in the final four days of May (counting one game against Washington), despite shutting out the Reds in Houston's lone victory.
Notes: Houston had three three-game losing streaks, o one five-game losing streak and finished up an eight-game losing streak all in this month. The Astros began the month seven games below .500 and finished 17 games below the mark. This was possibly the worst month of baseball I have seen in my lifetime.
Record - 14-14
124 runs scored, 146 runs allowed
Best series - June 7-10, taking three of four in Colorado; two of the wins were off the Rockies' bullpen and two of the three were one-run games.
Notes: The start of this turnaround could have come when Houston lost to Washington 14-4 on the last day of May, but then bounced back to win the next three games. Houston won five of the nine series and all four of the ones they lost were against American League teams.
Record - 13-11
96 runs scored, 93 runs allowed
Best series - July 30-31, Aug. 1, a sweep in Milwaukee; yeah, I cheated and added the first game in August, but this was a great win and sparked a nice run next month. JA Happ got a victory and Houston shut out the Brewers in two straight games.
Worst series - July 1-4, dropping three of four in San Diego; The Astros were shut out twice and managed just two runs in the series finale. That included a game the Astros lost 1-0. If there is a game that was more indicative of the Astros season (good pitching, no offense), I don't know of one.
Notes: With trade rumors swirling around, the Astros played some inspired baseball and had a winning record for the first month of this season. Houston started playing the National League Central again, but had an up and down start.They swept the Pirates, but dropped two of three to the Cardinals. They took a series against the Cubs, but lost one to Cincy. It wasn't until the deadline that Houston started playing a little more consistently.
Record - 17-12
120 runs scored, 103 runs allowed
Best series - Aug. 23-26, a sweep in Philly; This was a no-brainer. Sweeping the defending NL champions at home was pretty damned sweet.
Worst series - Aug. 16-18, dropping two of three from the Mets; I could have picked the sweep by Milwaukee, but this one stung worse. The Mets didn't score more than three runs in any of these games, but took two of them just the same.
Notes: This was undoubtedly the best month of baseball the Astros had played. It also included their best stretch of baseball, from the 22nd through Sep. 1. This was also the highest scoring month for Houston's offense and their best run differential.
Record - 15-15
116 runs scored, 131 runs allowed
Best series - Sep. 17-19, taking two of three in Cincy; a two-run victory and a one-run victory were both saved by Lyon and were the last real show of friskiness by Houston.
Worst series - Sep. 20-23, dropping three of four in Washington; adding insult to injury was the fact that Tyler Clippard one two of these three games.
Notes: The Astros finished at .500 in the end of the season, but dropped nine of their last 13. The way they flopped at the end of the season took away from the 12-6 run they put up to begin September.