HOUSTON - APRIL 11: Carlos Lee #45 of the Houston Astros reacts after being called out on strikes to end the game against the Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park on April 11, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
No game tonight, but that doesn't mean we can't talk about some Astros baseball...
1) J.D. could be pretty good, y'all - The home run was one thing. It was a powerful blast that traveled 420 feet, the 28th longest homer hit in the majors so far this season. Yeah, pretty good.
His six-game hitting streak is pretty good. He's hitting .368/.391/.682 over that stretch, with a ridiculous isolated power average of .318 and a weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .461.
And yet, talking to him after the game, with some exclusive (kidding) audio Tim was nice enough to put up earlier today, you can tell he's not satisfied. He worries about not getting the runner home from third in some crucial situations the past two games. He worried about his problems with Tommy Hanson's slider.
In fact, he was so worried about his pitch recognition, that he worked in the cages with Mike Barnett after Tuesday night's game. Despite being on a six-game hitting streak and batting over .350. That's exactly what successful big league players do.
I'm not sure if he'll be THIS good all season. Certainly, there are plenty of naysayers out there who will need to see to believe. But, as far as his attitude and his work ethic, I think the Astros have found a good major league hitter in Martinez.
2) Could Houston have three .300 hitters? - Yeah, that was me two days ago telling people to "Slow down!" in big, flashing letters. But, this is a daily post and this is what I'm thinking about today. When was the last time Houston had three players in its lineup hit over .300 in at least 500 plate appearances.
Why do I wonder that? Well, isn't there a slight chance that Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez could pull that off? At that point, all we need to add is a Carlos Lee having a monster season in the last year of his contract, Jordan Schafer to finally put things together or someone like Chris Johnson or Jason Castro having a big year.
Not exactly easy scenarios, I'll grant you. But, how long has it been since the Astros have had more than one .300 hitter? Not since 2009, when both Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada did it. I know CJ did it in 2010, but he also only played half a season. It's much easier to hit .300 in half a year than it is starting from Opening Day on.
Back to my point...Houston hasn't had three players hit over .300 since 2000, when Jeff Bagwell, Moises Alou and Richard Hidalgo pulled it off. Two years earlier, Houston actually had four players do it, as Bagwell, Alou, Craig Biggio and Derek Bell all hit over .300.
What's that? You want more? Well, the Astros didn't have one player hit over .300 in the World Series season of 2005 and only one in 2004 (Lancelot). Also, Alou's blistering .355 in 2000 ranks as the second-highest single-season batting average in franchise history, just behind Bagwell's MVP season in 1994 when he hit .368.
Yes, batting average doesn't mean much and yes, it's silly to make a distinction between a .294 average and a .300 average in the long run. But, I've got one more thing to be pulling for this season: numerical oddities.
3) Who's the Astros All-Star? - I haven't added a goofy weekly feature in a while, but I'm also not planning on making this a weekly thing. I'll just check in every now and then on who might become Houston's All-Star this year. Who are our candidates so far?
Jose Altuve - Everyone's Favorite Second Baseman is second in the National League in WAR through five games, just behind Miami's Omar Infante. He's hitting a brisk .357 with a .444 on-base percentage and a weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .398. The only thing holding him back is name recognition, but if he keeps hitting like this, he'll get noticed.
J.D. Martinez - The outfield is going to be tough to make, but J.D. has started hot, and in a crucial (if not relevant to his talent level) way. Martinez was fourth in fWAR through six games, but tied for third in the National League in RBIs by outfielders. If he can keep driving in runs, he'll get noticed too, but that might not be enough to get him on the team.
Carlos Lee - El Bufalo has a little bit of everything. He's got the name recognition. He's got the veteran-ness going for him in the player vote. He's hitting well to start the season and he's at a position that's suddenly lacking star power in the NL. Still, Lee is behind both Lance Berkman and Adam LaRoche in early fWAR leaderboards. I'm pretty sure Berkman will get the nod out of those three. Much like J.D., though, Lee is tied for first in RBIs, and that's something that will get him noticed.
Lucas Harrell - I know, I'm very skeptical too. But, the newbie to the rotation is leading the way in WAR. If he keeps a low ERA for a while early in this season, he'll definitely get a look in one of those "Ooh, look at this shiny new Ryan Vogelsong" kind of way.
My leader in the clubhouse is Carlos. He's at the easiest position and if he hits, he'll get the vote from the players. Altuve is a close second, though I'm less sure his numbers are sustainable.