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Astros at the Mid Point of 2012

What better way to remember the season so far than a photo of Jose Altuve?. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
What better way to remember the season so far than a photo of Jose Altuve?. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Astros have played exactly half their 2012 season. Think of this as halftime intermission of a film at the theatre. (Does it seem like fewer movies have intermission? That's a topic for another day.) People can begin talking about the movie among themselves. You have your initial impression whether you like the movie or not. But you still know from experience that the second half of the movie can change your opinion entirely. The movie might have a terrific ending, and if it's a Hitchcock or DePalma film, you probably expect that kind of ending. Or the movie may drift off track and make you wonder why you wasted 3 hours. So far, this doesn't look like an Oscar winning season for the Astros. But, hey, we still can look forward to the second half.

As painful as it may be, let's talk about the first half of the season. You know I like statistics, so bear with me if they frame my perception of the Astros' first half.

First Half W-L Record

With a record of 32-49, the Astros rank above only the Cubs and Padres in winning percent. However, the Astros' record appears to understate their performance in the first half. The Pythagorean Record (based on Runs Scored and Allowed) indicates that the Astros are 2 wins below their expected record. The Astros' team WAR, according to fangraphs, also suggests a higher winning percentage. The Astros' cumulative 13 WAR indicates an expectation of 37 wins. So, the Astros appear to have perrformed 2 - 5 wins better than their actual record.

The Astros 0-7 record in extra inning games may explain the deviation from the Pythagorean results. If the Astros' had the same Win% in extra inning games as 9 inning games, they would have 3 additional wins. The runs scored and allowed in extra innings say the same thing (applying the Pythag to the extra inning games).

The variance between the Astros' first half WAR and actual wins may be explained in part by the timing of their hits. Based upon fangraphs' clutch statistic, the Astros are the second worst clutch hitting team in the majors. (Only the Phillies are worse.) The clutch statistic is based on the difference between players' performance in clutch situations versus unleveraged situations. To some extent, this is bad luck (random variation, if you like), and the clutch hitting could regress toward the players' overall average performance. Although that is the standard saber view, I would not eliminate the effect of the hitters' inexperience on the poor clutch result.

Perhaps you can take some optimism from this analysis of the W-L record. The Astros have some room for better luck in converting their hitting and pitching production into wins, and it's possible we will see a better result in the future. If the Astros repeat their actual first half record, the Astros will finish eight games better than last year. If the second half is like their first half Pythag or WAR record, they will finish 10 - 13 games better than last year.

What's Up with Home vs. Road Record?

The Astros had a .548 win percent at home and a .230 win percent on the road. The Astros were a good home team in the first half. But the winning percent on the road is horrible. But it's not unusual for the Astros to have a winning record at home, accompanied by a losing record on the road. Generally, for the Astros, the difference between contending or not is whether the team can keep the road record within a reasonable range of .500. Since 2000, the Astros have only one season with a losing home record (2011) and only two seasons with a winning road record (2001, 2004). But the difference between the home and road record in the first half this year is ridiculous. The road wins are so meager that I doubt the road win percent can stay that low for the full season.

I can find only three Astros' seasons with a winning home record and a road winning percentage below .300: 1963, 1967, and 1978. If it's any cause for hope, the 1967 and 1978 records seemed to signal a rapid improvement in the Astros' future season record.

The 1967 losing season was followed by a three win improvement in 1968 and two years later in 1969 the Astros' first non-losing record, 81 - 81. The 1969 team was the first Astros' team to contend for a division title. The Astros followed with three winning seasons from 1970-1973.

The 1978 divergent Home-Road record was followed by an 89 win team in 1979 and the 93 win team which played in the NLCS in 1980. Does this mean anything for this year's team? Probably not, but who can say. Both the 1967 and 1978 teams were relatively young. This might support the notion that such a vast disparity between home and road winning percentages is associated with the progress of young rebuilding teams. Maybe less experienced teams are worse at dealing with the pitfalls of playing on the road.


If this is like a movie intermission, then a lot of people must have decided to slip out of the theatre. The Astros are No. 16--last---in home attendance in the NL. The Astros' attendance might look better in a relative sense after a move to the AL, since several teams in the AL have worse attendance.

High and Low Point

This is subjective. You are welcome to provide your own high and low point for the first half of the season.

High Point: May 25. The Astros defeated the high flying Dodgers in Dodger Stadium to run their record to 22-23. Lucas Harrell out-pitched Clayton Kershaw for the 3-1 win. The Astros had won 4 games in a row; and, considering that they had won the most difficult pitching match up of the series, it appeared possible that the Astros could reach .500 and post a surprising series win against the Dodgers. Instead, the Astros lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers n the next game, with Wilton Lopez giving up a walk off 3 HR in the 9th inning of a tie game. This started the longest losing streak of the first half: 8 games.

Low Point: June 13. The Astros lost 10-0 to the Giants and go down in history as the first Astros team to have a perfect game pitched against them. Maybe I'm wrong, but that game seems to have a longer lasting effect than a regular loss, perhaps denting the hitters' confidence.

First Half Statistical Leaders

Below I've listed some of the first half statistical leaders on the team. Note that I have excluded some of the hitters with a very small sample.

First Half Leaders


Home Runs

Lowrie 14


Altuve 18


Altuve 4


Martinez 47

Stolen Bases

Schafer 18


Lowrie 2.4


Lowrie .352

Isolated Power

Maxwell .240

Starting Pitchers


W. Rodriguez 1.4


Keuchel 1.35


Norris 9.34


W. Rodriguez 1.89


Norris 3.70

Relief Pitchers


Lopez 2.48


Lopez 2.51


F-Rod, Lyon 9.10


Lopez 1.11


Lyon 0.61


Lopez, Lyon 0.4



Bogusevic 5.4


Tie--Maxwell, Bixler,

Bogusevic, Buck,

Gonzalez, Harrell 2