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Strength of Schedule and Why It Matters

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Taking a look at the Astros opponents to date and going forward and what it means strategically.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of April, the Astros fandome was in an uproar. Losenow had slacked off during the off-season, he didn’t re-sign Morton, Keuchel, and Marwin! Nelson Cruz could have been our DH, etc.

We “sputtered” to a record of 18-12, and we were neck and neck with the surprising Mariner’s who started off the season at a blistering pace.

The part that wasn’t considered by a large portion of fans? Who we were playing against. It’s one of those elements that people ignore on a larger scale with the mindset that it evens out across the course of the season. At that point, we had not played a single team who was under .500 when we went into the series against them, an absurd statistic 30 games into the season.

May came, and the Astros had a sigh of relief, finally having an easier month with over 23 of their games coming up against teams that were under .500. As you’d expect, the Astros went crazy amassing a 19-7 record so far this month.

How challenging of a season have the Astros had overall to date? They’ve played the second hardest season based on Strength of Season in baseball, coming in at .523. (props to GoStro1 for posting)

As for upcoming games

This was posted before yesterday’s game, leaving us with 26/106 games against teams over .500 (24.5%!!!)

We’re about a 3rd of the way through the season, and obviously records fluctuate, but this is a fairly telling indication of the competition ahead.

PowerRankingsGuru takes a slightly different approach utilizing MLB’s power rankings to develop their strength of schedule remaining, and find us to have the second easiest schedule remaining in all of baseball (other than the Twins of course).

So what does all of this mean?

Currently, Fangraphs has the Astros projected to win 102.4 games (3.1 higher than any other team in baseball). They list them at a 99.2% chance to Win their division, and a 99.7% chance of making the playoffs overall, and due to a much easier field in the NL, are just behind the Dodgers in percent chance to win the World Series.

Why does it matter?

Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard the Astros have been bitten by the injury bug. Here is the grueling injury list posted on Baseball Reference:

I would not be surprised if the Astros are being extra cautious with their players aligning for the longer term strategy of getting everyone as healthy as possible for the playoffs. If you wonder why Hinch has been adamant about giving players a day off, even when the line-up is not at it’s strongest, this should help explain why. What the Astros are doing is simply absurd.

Plus, who doesn’t love to see some of our young prospects getting a shot!

It’s a great time to an Astros fan. I’m personally excited to get ramped up and watch AstrosFuture and Spencer profile out some potential draft picks, watch Jeff Luhnow work his magic in the draft, and enjoy the ride of this magical season.