This is nothing new. The Astros are on pace to score just over 630 runs this season, which is about 13 runs less than they score in 2009. However, that's assuming they average four runs a game for the 44 games left on the schedule. The way the offense has been clicking under Bagwell, they could very well score more runs than last year.
Is that surprising? I know I wasn't expecting to see that number pop up, especially since it doesn't look like the Astros have a chance to avoid setting their lowest slugging percentage since 1992. and their lowest OPS since 1991. Fact is, even with the sudden burst in scoring, the Astros just are not hitting for power.
Hunter Pence is the only player on the team who will easily hit 20 home runs this season. Carlos Lee is sitting at 15 homers, which gives him an outside chance at getting there. If Pence ends up as the only Astro with 20 homers, it'd be the first time since Minute Maid Park opened that just one Astro hit the mark. Twice this decade, the Astros have had just two players hit the mark in a season. Both times (2002, 2007), the players in question topped 30 or 40 home runs, but there wasn't much power behind them. This time, there's just not much power overall in the lineup.
Going back further, the last time the Astros only had one player top 20 homers was in 1996, when Jeff Bagwell hit 31. Discounting the 1994 and 1995 strike-shortened seasons, 1993 was the last year when an Astro led the team in home runs with fewer than Pence is projected to hit (Biggio hit 21 that year). 1992 was the last year when no Astro hit at least 20 home runs.
The Astros also have to hit 21 more home runs as a team to avoid being the first Houston team since '92 to not break triple-digits in homers. They're on pace to get 108 right now and hit a season-high 26 homers in the month of July. Of course, they've currently totaled seven homers in August, which puts them off the pace a little. Still, there has definitely been an upsurge in the power lately that makes you think they'll get to at least 100 homers.
While the league is showing a somewhat depressed homer rate, the Astros are the worst team in the National League at hitting home runs. Even the Petco Park-bound Padres have more long balls than the Astros. On the other side of the coin, Astros pitchers have only given up 100 homers to this point, good for seventh in the league.
I'm not sure how significant all this is. It's not news that the Astros can't hit home runs this year or have struggled offensively. What is surprising, though, is they're scoring more runs with less power than at any time this decade. Did Cecil Cooper's small-ball strategy work one year too late?