Season Record: 44-25. Second in AL West, 1⁄2 game behind the Seattle Mariners. Fourth in AL behind Boston and New York, 4 games behind first place Yankees.
Pythagorean won/loss record: 43-15, best in MLB. Run differential: +138
Baseball Reference SRS: 1.9, best in MLB
The Big Trends: When this column began about five weeks ago the Astros were the best pitching team in baseball and middle of the pack in hitting. In fact for that first week the Astros were 26th in the league for that week. Since that time, although still top rated for the season, the pitching has on a weekly basis regressed to close to middle of the pack. Meanwhile the hitting has improved steadily until this week it is at the top of the league in many categories for the week and has snuck up to near the top for the entire season.
In short, the bats are killing it. This feels like Astros 2017.
Week Record: 6-0. The Astros took four games against the Rangers in Arlington and as of this writing have won the first two against the A’s in Oakland.
On June 7 the Astros took the first game of the Rangers series 5-2, thanks to Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis home runs, and a 6 inning one run pitching performance by Gerrit Cole.
On June 8th a George Springer two run double, homers by Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, and a quality start by Justin Verlander secured the victory.
The June 9th 4-3 victory was particularly memorable for the Charlie Morton meltdown, who gave up 6 walks and 4 hit batters but only 1 earned run in 3.2 innings. Tony Sipp was the winning pitcher thanks to a Max Stassi home run. Hector Rondon got his second save.
On June 10th the Astros bats, led by a George Springer lead off home run, an Alex Bregman 2 run triple, and 4-5 from Yuli Gurriel, gave Dallas Keuchel an early 6 run lead. He could not hold the lead, but with a tied score in the ninth, the Astros won on a balk call. Final score 7-6.
In Oakland on June 11 the Astros beat the A’s 6-3 thanks to Evan Gattis’ 5 RBI on a home run and a double, Lance McCullers’ 7 inning, 2 run starting performance and Ken Giles’ 11th save.
On June 12 the Astros bats exploded early on the A’s for — runs, led by Evan Gattis’ 2 home runs and 5 RBI...again. Gerrit Cole got the win despite allowing 4 runs, the most he has allowed as an Astro, on two home runs.
Season Hitting: The Astros have exploded to near the top of the leader board in hitting with a 114 WRC+, second in MLB behind only the Yankees, and 6 points higher than last week. By comparison the Mariners are fourth at 11.1 The Astros OPS at .766 is third. They are second in runs at 352, up two slots, 6th in Home runs at 85, up 6 slots, and 2nd in BA at .262 up .10 points and 3 slots higher.
Last Weeks Hitting: The Astros bats exploded (I said that already) with a league leading WRC+ 165 (but rival Mariners were just behind at 144) The Astros were a close second in OPS to the Dodgers at .957 (Fangraphs), second in runs at 50, 3rd in home runs behind Seattle and the Dodgers at 14 and tops in BA at .319.
Below is a chart of hitting stats for this week.
For comparison purposes here are individual Astros hitting and pitching statistics for the season.
Who’s Hot: Dumb question. Evan Gattis, 4 home runs 14 RBI. After departing April with only 1 home run he now has 13, second on the team behind George Springer. His 42 RBI is tops, tied with Carlos Correa.
In his last 3 games Yuli Gurriel is 9-15 with a home run.
Look at the chart. JUST LOOK AT IT!
Who’s Not: Screw that.
Discussion: Why has the hitting improved? My take. The more good hitters in a lineup, the harder it is on the opposing pitcher. A lineup full of good hitters makes all the hitters better. In a lineup of only one or two good hitters it is difficult for even those to excel since a pitcher feels all he has to do is gear up to or pitch around those hitters. This explains the success of last year‘s Astros. In physics it is similar to the concept of critical mass. In biblical terms it parallels the quote by Jesus:. ”To he who has will more be given.”
For much of the season the bottom of the batting order has been total dead weight, with especially poor production form the Marisnick/Fisher platoon, and DH (Gattis) The simultaneous emergence of Gattis and Tony Kemp, I believe, have helped the offense achieve critical mass. Check out these stats for these two hitters in the last 30 days
Instead of easy outs in the batting order we now have a contact machine who gets on base (Kemp) and lately, an elite masher. It makes it easier on everyone else.
Season Pitching: The Astros still lead the league in most statistical categories, including ERA, (2.94) WOBA, (.275), K’s, (710), WHIP, (1.06), FIP, (3.16) and xFIP, (3.24).
ERA+ is 131, tied with the all time lead.
The Week’s Pitching: The Astros were middle of the pack, in a role reversal in several ways. Most weeks this year it has been the pitching number 1 and hitting middle of the pack. In another role reversal the Yankees have the best pitching this week, and their hitting is middling. In case you wondered, the Astros were ahead of the Mariners in pitching.
The Astros were sixteenth in ERA at 3.33. They were also sixteenth in runs allowed at 23. Even in a down week the Astros were third in K’s at 64. Many of our competitors were over-performing their peripherals, whereas the Astros’ FIP of 3.35 was right in line with the ERA, and fourth in MLB.
Gerrit Cole alone started 2 games this week, winning both and accumulating 14 more strikeouts. He has continued his trend from previous weeks of having an ERA in the high 3’s for the week.
Dallas Keuchel alone did the most damage to the team ERA, allowing 5 earnd runs in 4.1 innings in a game the Astros eventually won, 8-7. For more on Keuchel read here.
Below is a chart of the Astros pitching statistics for the last week.
Justin Verlander still leads MLB in ERA at 1.45. Gerrit Cole leads the AL in strikeouts with 130 and Verlander is fourth with 113.
Fielding: The Astros have been a little sloppier on defense of late, and have lost their league lead in Defense Efficiency Ratio, now at .718, third in the league. Their fielding percentage dropped .001 to .991, tied for the lead with the Diamondbacks. Carlos Correa’s string of errorless games was snapped at 70, a Houston Astros record.
OPS: George Springer, .875
BA: Jose Altuve, .336
Home Runs: George Springer, 14
RBI: Evan Gattis, Carlos Correa, 42
Stolen Bases: Jose Altuve, 10
This poll is closed