It's tough starting our first week of the season without the Astros. What better way to keep the baseball feeling alive than looking back at the 2012 season month-by-month?
April Record: 9-14
Runs scored: 104
Runs allowed: 100
Top batter (fWAR): Jose Altuve, 1.0
Top pitcher (fWAR): Wandy Rodriguez, 1.0
Thoughts: Welp, that was fun. Remember when Houston had a positive run differential? And we were saying things like, "oh, Houston's playing better than it's record." How sweet and innocent we were back then, huh? Not surprising that Altuve and Wandy led the way here. Altuve finished a strong season, but this was the only month where he led the way in WAR. This was also the closest Houston came to allowing less than 100 runs in a month. I hear teams do that from time to time. Not this team. But other teams. Successful teams.
May Record: 13-15
Runs scored: 108
Runs allowed: 122
Top batter (fWAR): Jed Lowrie, 1.1
Top pitcher (fWAR): Bud Norris, 0.7
Thoughts: Things start slipping here. The offense is still chugging away, and the record is actually closer to .500 than it was in April, when the pitching was better. We've got the first of two straight Jed Lowrie-led months on the offensive side. It's also the only month where Norris popped to the top of the pitching ranks, which is not surprising considering how disappointing his season has been. We also see the erosion of the pitching overall, with that runs allowed total creeping upwards.
June Record: 10-17
Runs scored: 109
Runs allowed: 149
Top batter (fWAR): Lowrie, 0.8
Top pitcher (fWAR): Lucas Harrell, 0.6
Thoughts: Uh, oh. By the end of June, things had gotten bad. The record and the run differential are both bad. The offense is still pretty strong, but the pitching was absolutely dreadful. Harrell led the way, but his fWAR was the lowest total to lead a single month. How much that means depends on how much weight you put on pitching WAR. Lowrie the the offensive standout again, but the offensive WAR guy falls below 1.0 for the first time. That's what we like to call a "trend."
July Record: 3-24
Runs scored: 85
Runs allowed: 161
Top batter (fWAR): Carlos Corporan, 0.5
Top pitcher (fWAR): Rodriguez/Harrell, 0.7
Thoughts: Mmmm. The bottom officially falls out this month. Neither the offense nor the pitching were any good. Of course, there was a reason for that. Houston traded off all the best parts of the starting pitching staff and the offense, including Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ. That becomes evident when Corporan gets to lead the way offensively in just about two weeks of work after Jason Castro goes on the disabled list with swelling in his surgically repaired knee. Harrell makes another appearance here, even though he didn't have much better WAR than he did in June.
August Record: 5-22
Runs scored: 75
Runs allowed: 149
Top pitcher (fWAR): Harrell, 0.7
Thoughts: And you thought things were bad in July! Consider this the official bottoming out for the 2012 season. That offensive production is horrendous, as Houston scored half as many runs as it gave up. That's not good, right? Notice, too, that the pitching is still bad, though not as bad as it was in July. How bad was the offense, you ask? Look at the guys who led the way...with 0.3 WAR. The Dominguez stats? Came from eight plate appearances. That's right...a guy tied for the team lead in WAR from what he did in EIGHT PLATE APPEARANCES. Awful.
September/October Record: 15-15
Runs scored: 102
Runs allowed: 113
Top batter (fWAR): Fernando Martinez, 0.8
Top pitcher (fWAR): Jordan Lyles, 0.9
Thoughts: I am intrigued in everything going on here. Obviously, Cee Angi covered this very well last week, but Houston did post a .500 record for the first time, despite having a negative run differential. The pitching was much better and the offense improved to levels similar to the first couple months. Surprising names in the leader categories. Could that have been Lyles turning a corner? Might F-Mart finally be putting his prodigious talent to good use? It's all possible, since there's no more season left.