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Astros Things I Think I Think (About Kansas City)

Again, with apologies to Peter King, here are some of my thoughts on the upcoming series in Kansas City. We've got a poll at the bottom of this post to see who's going to the TCB At the Ballpark. You can still buy tickets here. Also, time is running out to enter the Beyond Batting Average contest. Go here to find out more about the contest and enter by 5 p.m. today for a chance to win.

  • It seems like the Royals play Houston every year. That's not entirely accurate, but it's close. Part of the reason why the two teams have played so frequently is the close ties between Royals owner David Glass and Astros owner Drayton McLane. The two teams have played 24 times since 1997 and the Astros have played them more times than any other AL team besides the Rangers. From 1997 to 2001, the two teams played every season. They took a four year hiatus before playing in back to back seasons starting in 2005. Most recently, they played a three game set last season and are scheduled for another one starting Tuesday. Houston has a 15-9 all-time record against the Royals, but have lost two out of the last seven games.
  • Kansas City is fourth in the majors in batting average at .276. It drops down to 15th in wOBA, though due to the third-lowest walk total in the league.
  • The two best hitters in the past two weeks for the Royals are Jose Guillen and David DeJesus. Guillen has been Kansas City's primary DH while DeJesus slid from left field over to right last winter. Unsurprisingly, they also have the two highest walk rates over that same time span.
  • Lots of former Astro-killers on this roster. You may remember Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and Jason Kendall but probably not fondly. Do you know what Podsednik's career line against Houston is? .286/.355/.506....from a career .717 OPS player! For Ankiel, his batting average and OPS are both 50 points higher against Houston than his career averages. Kendall has only played more games against Cincinnati and St. Louis in his career than against Houston. Granted, all three are doing their best to look washed up in 2010 and Ankiel has been on the disabled list since May 3rd. Still, I'm worried that Jim Edmonds may pop up on this roster before the end fo the series.
  • You may know Yuniesky Betancourt as the punchline to many a sabermetric joke. I know I do, which is why I was surprised to learn he's been not only a pretty good hitter, but also not terrible in the field. Betancourt is only at -4 Defensive Runs Scored and his UZR/150 is just a shade below zero. Considering where those numbers sat for most of the past three seasons, that's a nice improvement. His batting average and slugging percentage are also up about 40 points.
  • The Astros will miss Zack Greinke, but they'll hit another pitcher doing just as well, former first overall pick Luke Hochever. The righthander has a strikeout rate above 10 with a walk rate under 2 in the past two weeks. His xFIP is 2.91, which is just a bit above Greinke. His matchup against Wandy could be a huge mismatch.
  • Kyle Davies has been having a really tough time lately, striking out less than one batter per inning over the past two weeks. Couple that with a walk rate approaching six and you can see why Davies has struggled so much.
  • Do you remember Bruce Chen's brief stint with the Astros? He started 11 games with Houston back in 2003, posting a 6.00 ERA. He's spot starting for the Royals on Wednesday in place of Gil Meche, who's on the shelf with a sore shoulder.
  • One last player who could prove dangerous is Chris Getz. The 26-year old infielder has 21 plate appearances in the past two weeks and 14 in the past week. He hit .083 over his last seven games, but his walk rate is very good and his BABiP is low enough that a rebound is likely. Let's hope it doesn't come at the expense of Houston.