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Starting Nine: Small Sample Size Alert

Small sample sizes often don't tell us much. TCB picks out early trends that could become sustainable.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Small sample sizes are fun. They almost hold true, good or bad. For example, Evan Gattis likely will get a hit this season despite a dreadful start. On the flip side, the Astros probably won't have an ERA of 2.17 for the rest of the season.

With that being said, this question wasn't an easy one for the TCB staff. Small sample sizes are incredibly difficult to maintain, but our writers tried to find some that may stick.

What statistic from the first week of play will remain similar and go from small sample size to legitimate trend?

Brian Stevenson

The real answer? None of them. The rotation has a combined 2.29 ERA, and the bullpen has combined for an astounding 1.99 ERA. They aren't that good, though. Meanwhile the offense has managed just 16 runs in six games (2.7 per game), and with the extra inning thing, they've had 58 innings at bat. They aren't that bad, though. The pitching has been about the best in baseball, and the offense has been about the worst. The offense will get better, and the pitching will fall off a bit. That will add up, at the end, to be right around where they are now and where we've been predicting them to be; .500. Well, so in that case, I guess the actual real answer is team winning percentage.

Matthew Hall

Three and three. I expect us to finish in the .500 range. So this start that has looked so abnormal and been so frustrating for so many fans is actually the new normal.

.500 teams don't win every other game and field batters who go 1 for 3 or 4 every game. They go on winning and losing streaks and contain some guys who are currently hot, some guys who are ice cold and everything in between.

David Coleman

For me, it's Jake Marisnick's batting line.

No, he's not going to hit .400 all season. He may not even hit within 130 points of that by season's end.

But, I do think this first week's hot streak shows that he can hit enough to keep his spot as the starting center fielder all season. His defense is good enough to be a difference-maker, as long as his bat holds up.

What does that mean? Well, on the podcast Sunday night, I suggested Juan Lagares' 2014 season as a good comparison. Lagares hit .281/.321/.382 last season, good for a 101 wRC+.

That's remarkably similar to what Marsinick did in Triple-A last season for the Marlins, when he hit .277/.326/.434 in nearly 400 plate appearances. He's probably got more power potential than Lagares, but if he can muster a league-average offensive performance, Marsinick will be an above-average regular this season.

Ernie Breakfast

I think it will be Colby Rasmus' batting line. We all know he has been an up-and-down player over his career, and the front office was betting on this being one of the "up" years when they signed him, obviously. In 2010 for the Cardinals he batted .276, with an OPS of .859. In 2013 for the Blue Jays, he batted .276, with an OPS of .840. Currently in this first week he is batting .278, with an OPS of .927. He has looked more comfortable at the plate than most of the team this young season. I think as long as he stays healthy, he can keep these numbers close to these, in addition to adding some pop to the lineup. Also add to that the great defense he has been playing, and Colby could end up being one of the best pick-ups of the offseason.


Let me try this one: pitching Groundball percentage. The Astros lead all teams with a 58% GB rate. (The Mets are next at 54.1%.) That GB rate is very high and will most likely regress somewhat. But I suspect that the Astros' pitching staff will be top 5 in GB%. Keuchel, Feldman, and Hernandez are groundball machines in the rotation. And then you have groundballs in the pen too, with Gregerson, Qualls, and Deduno all expected to produce grounders.

Irish Pete (Winner)

First, number of batting gloves used by Evan Gattis. The number stands at zero and it has been pretty consistently around that mark throughout his career. I cannot even imagine this straying from zero because that would be like trying to picture Paul Bunyan chopping down giant fir trees with gloves on. Even with his slow start, I expect El Oso Blanco's paws to remain uncovered as he continually moves pieces of lumber at high rates of speed.

Second, Dallas Keuchel's beard has potentially reached its maximum length. When I ran the numbers for xBeard, it indicated that Dallas may have hit his beard peek. That doesn't mean we should expect regression, but Dallas should continue on at his current level. Also, with my real eyes, I noticed the nice even bottom to Dallas' beard this weekend and it appears that he is trimming it to keep it at its current length, which is substantial and manly. I may be wrong about this, but my gut says otherwise since I consider myself a bit of beard aficionado.

Alex Goodwin

I believe the bullpen ERA will stay pretty similar to what it is right now. I don't think it will stay below 2.00, but the bullpen is pretty loaded and does have depth, which should lead to one of the top ten BPs in the majors. Every problem it's had over the past few years is no longer a problem.