WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Jose Altuve #27 after scoring in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. Houston won the game 11-4. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Seems that I've caught some weekend fever, but I managed to fight it off enough to talk to you dear readers about some Astros news...
1) The Roger Clemens trial annoys me - Yes, that's right. I couldn't care any less about Roger Clemens and his new trial if I tried. Clemens used up all of my patience last summer with a trial that ended almost in farce. What do we have left to answer this time? More bloody needles? Will Andy Pettitte testify or reverse course? How bad will Clemens come off this time?
Wake me up when it's over.
Maybe I should work up more of a fervor over what he might or might not have done to taint this great game (with many admitted cheaters already enshrined in the Hall of Fame). I know if Clemens used steroids, he broke the law and should be prosecuted. I'm just not sure whether I should care.
So, like I said, wake me once it's over and we can start talking about a verdict instead of just another ongoing trial.
2) Predictive value of early-season records - John Dewan over at Bill James Online has a neat article up, talking about how predictive the first ten games of a particular team's record and whether or not that team can go on to win 90 games.
Houston, as you might remember, went 4-6 in their first 10 games. That puts them in the second-to-last bracket, but it dramatically increases their odds of winning 90 games or making the playoffs. In the last 10 years, 68 teams won just four games in those first 10 games and 21 percent of them went on to make the playoffs.
That drops to 11 percent when you look at the teams that lost three games or less. Its not much of a change, but it's also not much lower than the teams that finished with 6-4 records.
Does that mean the Astros will make the playoffs? Cool Standings is less optimistic, pegging Houston at a 70-92 record with just a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs. That's probably close to where they should stand, with a small chance, but not insiginificant, chance of making the playoffs.
3) Astros seem set at SS - It's early yet, but as I watched Jed Lowrie and Marwin Gonzalez making nice play after nice play at short, I started wondering when Houston may have had two above-average defensive players at the position in the same season. I knew it hadn't happened in a while.
Off the top of my head, the last I could remember was Adam Everett and Jose Vizcaino, but to get a more scientific look, I turned to FanGraphs. My parameters were simple. I wanted to see a season where Houston had two shortstops who played in at least 15 games and had Fielding Run totals of 1.0 or better.
The run through history wasn't entirely comparable, since before 2002, FanGraphs uses Total Zone for historical defensive numbers and that's not quite as discerning as stuff like UZR. But, it's the best we got. I went back to 1982 for 30 years of data sets. I didn't find much.
The last time it happened was in 2006, when Everett and Eric Bruntlett combined to be above average at the position. Vizcaino and Everett had one above-average season in 2004, and Vizcaino and Julio Lugo did the same in 2002, but before that, pickings got pretty slim. In fact, you had to go all the way back to 1986 to find a season with two above-average SS. Back then, Craig Reynolds and Dickie Thon did it. Reynolds and Bert Pena also did it the two previous years.
Six times in 30 years is a pretty rare occurrence. It's not guaranteed that Houston will finish that way this season, or that Marwin will even have that many starts at short. But, I think it's at least possible to add this new duo to the list.