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Monday's Three Astros Things

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Talking about faulty analysis, Astros playoff homers and playoff superstitions...

Some things to talk about while Chris Carter continues to go full Trogdor...

1) Faulty analysis on broadcasts

It's not hard to figure out why the Astros are winning. Since Jeff Luhnow took over this team and started hiring every baseball writer with a PhD, thinkpieces flourished about their progress. We got about three in-depth stories a year on their philosophy, their methods and why it would work.

In Year Four of the Luhnow Era, the results finally paid off. FanGraphs explains why the Astros are the new Royals, breaking down how similar the teams are in many ways.

We know this. Why don't the announcers assigned to the Astros-Royals games get it, then?

For three games, Matt Vasgersian has been railing against the Astros strikeouts. "They won Game 1 with 14 strikeouts! What team does that?"

The announcers hate the shift, showing two key plays from Game 2 where a ball leaked through Houston's shift. They did not show any replays of the balls Houston's shifts gobbled up. Nor did they point out the stats showing how Houston's defense saved roughly 8 billion more runs than it could have because of the shift. They didn't show any highlights of Houston outfielders catching balls hit right at them because of their shadings.

The Astros are not a novel team. They may have been three years ago, but now they're just doing what everyone else is doing, a little bit better. For every time Vasgersian goes on about Houston's strikeouts, I want to point him to the Chicago Cubs, who struck out more than Houston this year and won 97 games.

The last straw, though, was J.P. Morosi asking Dallas Keuchel about his pitch count (!!!) in this playoff game and how it put him in the company of Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw.

Keuchel has thrown over 110 pitches 18 times in the past two years. In two of those starts, he had a Game Score under 50 (below-average) and in two more, it was under 60. What I'm saying is that pitch count alone maybe isn't the best way to judge whether a pitcher has joined luminaries of the last decade.

That's not even to get into what Bob Costas and Jim Kaat got into during the Toronto-Rangers series, or anything that Harold Reynolds has said in the postseason.

Do better, MLB announcers. Bill Brown has been around the game as long as anyone and he gets it. If your'e going to call a game at the highest level, you should too.

2) Astros postseason home run facts

Chris Carter became the 27th player in Astros history to hit a home run in the postseason. Since I'm driving the newly-discovered Trogdor bandwagon, I thought I'd throw out some Astros playoff home run facts.

  • Carlos Beltran has the most homers in Astros postseason history with eight. He's followed by Lance Berkman with six and...Mike Lamb with five.
  • Houston has now hit more home runs against Kansas City in the postseason than they did against the White Sox, the Dodgers, the Padres and the Yankees.
  • Though Minute Maid Park is pretty homer-friendly, the Astros have hit more homers on the road in the postseason (34) than they have at home (26). Nineteen of those 26 home home runs happened at Minute Maid Park. It's reasonable to assume, then, that this Astros team could even that total out with another hot series.
  • Colby Rasmus now has as many postseason home runs as Jeff Kent, Ken Caminiti and Brad Ausmus hit. With one more homer, he'll tie Jason Lane for fourth place all-time.
  • I'm not sure who's the more unlikely Astros with a postseason home run: Raul Chavez or Chuckie Carr.
  • By far, the Astros have hit more home runs on the first pitch of an at-bat than any other count. Of course, that data is thrown off a bit by not having counts for the 1981 series and, weirdly, the 1999 series.
  • The biggest WPA swing by a homer in a game came off the bat of Brad Ausmus in 2005, when he took Kyle Farnsworth deep. Closely behind that was Billy Hatcher's homer in '86 and then Alan Ashby's walkoff homer in '81. Springer's homer from Game 1 of the Kansas City series got the biggest WPA swing of this postseason at 0.12. It ranks 24th all-time in Astros postseason history.
  • Carter's moon shot had the seventh-lowest WPA impact, incidentally. The least-impactful postseason homer? Mike Lamb's bomb off Julian Taveras in Game 1 of the NLCS in 2004.

3) Playoff superstitious

I don't think of myself as a particularly superstitious person. With so many variables and people and things going on, sitting in a certain position or taking the same route to things doesn't affect the course of history.

Right?

Except, rationality can fly out the window when sports are involved. For instance, in Houston's three playoff wins this year, I wore the same t-shirt. It was a new Astros shirt I got for my birthday earlier this year. Do you know the one game I didn't wear it for? That's right, Friday's loss. I couldn't get away with a t-shirt at work, I'm pretty sure.

It doesn't make sense, but half the fun of sports is how they don't make sense. They can be wonderfully, magically unbelievable. They can also make us do crazy things, because in the heat of the moment, you can't tell me that holding my breath for that big at-bat didn't keep Kansas City from hitting a home run.

A wise man once said, "A player on a streak has to respect the streak."

So, today, my undershirt at work is that lucky Astros shirt. Let's see if the magic can continue.

Anyone else have superstitions on this Astros run? What are you doing to keep this run going?