TCB Astros Hitter of the Week: June 11-17

Bob Levey

Houston has been scuffling of late. Who's been the best hitter in the past week?

I'd like to say that this feature deliberately went on hiatus so we could get some draft talk out of the way. I'd like to believe this was intentional. But, it wasn't. I just forgot to do a Hitter and Pitcher of the Week post.

What we're doing now is just repositioning them. Instead of coming out Tuesday and Wednesday, they're spaced out by a day, so the Hitter of the Week will come out Wednesday and the Pitcher of the Week will be named Thursday.

As always, these choices are purely subjective and based on no single statistic. I get a sense of how each player performed in a number of areas and then make a call.

Honorable mentions

Jason Castro

I have no idea what's going on with Jason Castro. Let's get that out in the open up front. We have talked about him before in this space, wondering if he's finally getting out of his slump. Then, he falls back. Then he shows signs of life before slumping some more.

In June, he's hitting just .194/.293/.250. In the past week, Castro managed a line of .231/.412/.308. He still features absolutely no power, but at least he's walking a good bit. In fact, his walk rate has been down all season, about three points lower than its been in his career. But, in June, that's rebounded from 7 percent for the season up to 10 percent this month.

Looking at ESPN's home run tracker, we find that only two of Castro's home runs this season came off the bat with a velocity lower than 100 mph. His average home run velocity in 2014 has been right at 101 mph, which is down about 3 mph from what he averaged on his 2013 home runs.

We don't yet have the tracking data on all hits to see if he's lost total velocity off his bat from last season. And, judging him by a small number of home runs is dangerous. But, it is troubling.

Castro continues to be an okay defender behind the plate who's receptive to becoming better at pitch framing. He's also getting on base, even if his power has dipped. That's enough to give him value right now, even if it's not as much as last season.

Matt Dominguez

Nah. I'm not giving a second honorable mention this week. No one else hit, even though multiple people hit for power. But, if I were choosing a second HM, it'd be Matty D, who's seen his walk rate drop but is making contact and hitting for power. So, pretty much doing what Matty D does.

Winner

Jose Altuve

You know you've had a good week when I dole out this award based on 10 plate appearances. Altuve has missed plenty of time due to injury in the past week, but it hasn't caused his bat to go to sleep. He had four hits against Washington last night and is now hitting .667/.700/1.000 in those three games.

In that stretch, he didn't walk once and didn't strike out once. Any progress Altuve may have made at walking more often has gone out the window lately, with his walk rate plummeting down close to 2013 levels. But, he's also seen another dramatic cut in his striekout rate. Altuve is only striking out seven percent of the time this season, which is why most of the projections show him hitting .300 for the season.

Already, Altuve has put together his most complete (and best) season of his career. He's hitting better, stealing more bases and generally being a...(finish this sentence).

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