Some things to talk about while I try to shake the rust off from my vacation...
1) Jose Altuve stealing more
In Brian T. Smith's notebook from this weekend,he notes the uptick in Jose Altuve's steal attempts. Oh, he also notes his slumping batting average, which has brought his line down to where it finished the 2012 season, but let's focus on the steals. He's got a quote from Altuve justifying all the base movement, since the team's best hitter is behind him:
"It’s not a secret I haven’t got on base a lot lately. But every time I get on base, I try to steal a base, get in scoring position," said Altuve, who led the Astros with 33 stolen bases in 2012. "I have the best hitter right now behind me, that is Jason Castro. That’s why I’ve been stealing a little bit more, to get myself in scoring position."
The problem is that Altuve hasn't been very efficient in stealing bases. I believe it was Tom Tango's The Book that broke down how successful a player needs to be for a steal to make sense. That dividing line is somewhere around 76 percent, which Altuve toed last season when he stole 33 bases in 44 attempts.
This year, though, Altuve has been successful on nine of 13 attempts, putting him below 70 percent for his success rate. That's not good, and I wonder if the team will talk to him about it or if the edict on not stealing bases went out the door with Moneyball a decade ago.
We've seen two things with the Astros this season and steals. First, their success rate is way down. Houston stole 118 bases in 2011 with a success rate of 78 percent (thank you, Michael Bourn), but that number dropped to 105 steals on a 69 percent success rate in 2012.
In 2013, the Astros have only been successful on 60 percent of their steal attempts. But, the number of steals the team has attempted is down. In both 2011 and 2012, the team attempted .93 steals per game. In 2013, that number is down to .83. Not a big decrease, but it may show a trend.
2) Jake Buchanan's breakout?
Over at Astros County, they have a very interesting look at Corpus Christi pitcher Jake Buchanan and the year he is putting together. Buchanan has been straight dealing, but how good has be been?
The last earned run that Jake Buchanan has allowed was on April 26 - a span of 32.2IP - while getting 23K:2BB - a span of 115 batters who haven't crossed the plate (charged to Buchanan - there was an unearned run on May 22). We can go back even further to say that Buchanan has allowed just one earned run in his last 45.1IP.
That's pretty good. It's worth reading the whole thing, because AC talks about how Buchanan has added a cutter and a whole host of other interesting bits. But, the conclusion is also telling. As good as Buchanan is, it doesn't appear there will be room for him to move up until Jarred Cosart and Wojo get called up to the majors.
Not that that's a bad thing. We're still dealing with some small sample sizes. If Buchanan can dominate like this for four months in the Texas League, it won't just be us taking note.
3) Grading BA's Top 100 prospect list
Fantastic article over at Beyond the Box Score on prospect rankings by Baseball America. Chris St. John takes the lists from way back and tries to figure out how well it correlates to big league success. He does this in so, so many ways that you really have to go read it and see all the charts and data. But, here's his summary:
I threw a lot of graphs out there, but the biggest takeaway is the second one: nearly 80% of the top 100 players in recent seasons were ranked in the top 100 by Baseball America. Of all the talk about failure rates (12% of prospects don't even get to the majors, only 69% fail to put up a career WAR over 10), the fine folks at BA are really good at finding the top players.
I was really surprised by that, but after seeing the data, I'm not. BA does a great job in predicting the top talent, so it stands to reason we should notice when they rank LMJ on there along with many other Astros.