You hear it all the time now, small sample size. The other day I even heard Chris Rose from Intentional Talk on MLB Network use it. We've had almost two weeks worth of games and already people are calling for heads to roll and players to be called up. This has been a frustrating team to walk the past week and emotions can begin to leak into our analysis of players, based on what amounts to only a handful of plays.
Take a deep breath and read this article from David on Small Sample Sizes, posted before the season.
Patience, especially with this Astros team, is needed. I don't think there are any false pretensions about this team being playoff bound, but in the moment I know it can be frustrating to watch specific players struggle. The thing is that several of these players need time in the field to figure out if they're going to be of any value for the team going forward.
Making evaluations on two weeks of games is ill-advised, there's just not enough data. Besides, even the greats have stretches where they look atrocious. Lets take a look at arguably the greatest player in baseball history, Babe Ruth.
Let me set the bold and make this very clear: In no way am I comparing ANY of the Astro players to Babe Ruth. The point of this exercise is to show that ANY player can and will struggle through the course of a season.
In 1918 Ruth, at the tender age of 23, posted a .300/.411/.555 line for the season. From July 20, 1918 to August 4, 1918, 14 games, Ruth posted a .170/.267/.208 line.
But that's during the season you say.
In 1919 Ruth posted a .180/.315/.426 line, in the first 19 games of the season, that's a .741 OPS for the greatest hitter in baseball history. He finished the year with a .322/.456/.657 line.
Not convinced that a .741 OPS is low enough, check out Ruth's 1920 season.
After 15 games Ruth had a .686 OPS which was a .227/.277/.409 line, but that wasn't his low point in the season. That came five games later when he had a .210/.290/.371 line good for a .661 OPS. He still managed to finish with a .322/.456/.657 line, which is quite possible the greatest offensive season in baseball history. It's also worth noting that Ruth had eight less games in 1920 to pull out of his funk.
Again I am not comparing Ruth to any of the Astros hitters, instead I am trying to highlight that it is a long season and two weeks isn't going to tell us much about any individual player. Is Albert Pujols over the hill? He's currently batting .265/.308/.347 in 12 games. He probably isn't but we can't be certain until Pujols gets more opportunities.
We have begun to form theories and assumptions about players and that is fine. But those theories and assumptions can not be confirmed or disproved until we have more data. This year is an evaluation year for the Astros, it's vital that they accomplish that evaluation this year for the future success of the organization. There are question regarding some players that need to be answered. Replacing them, now with only two weeks of data isn't going to answer those questions.
Giving them the opportunities to prove or disprove our theories is a necessary process this team needs to go through. And who knows maybe one or two of them will surprise us.