Finally, baseball is around the corner. But it won’t be the 162-game regular season we are all used to. Every team in the bigs is going to play a shortened 60-game schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to all the time we’ve lost because of it.
That’s why it’s a good time to write about what we can expect in terms of statistics. At least for 2020, we won’t see 40 home runs, 120 runs batted in, or 200 hits. At Crawfish Boxes, we’ve decided to take a look back at the best Astros hitters in the first 60 games of any season. Keep reading below...
1995: Derek Bell, 85
Derek Bell registered this mark in his first campaign as an Astro after being acquired from the Padres. The former outfielder, who played in 59 of the first 60 games, finished 1995 with 151 hits and a .334/.385/.442 across 499 plate appearances.
So far, Miguel Tejada (84, in 2009), Lance Berkman (83, in 2008), and José Altuve (81 and 80, in 2018 and 2014, respectively) have fallen short of tying Bell’s record. Even though he’s failed to reach at least 85 hits, it’s gonna be interesting to see whether Altuve or someone else can put Bell’s register in jeopardy.
To break the record, besides playing in every single game, you need to be consistent. On average, you’ll need 1.4 hits per game to finish with 86.
Most home runs
1999: Jeff Bagwell, 20
The Hall of Famer first baseman began the 1999 campaign in fashion, sending 20 balls over the fence. His tremendous offensive showing included two three-homer games, the first Astro to ever do so in one season.
Since 1999, Berkman (19, in 2002), Richard Hidalgo (18, in 2000), and Morgan Ensberg (18, in 2006) got close to Bagwell, but all fell short.
This year, the Astros will count again with Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa,
George Springer, and Yordan Álvarez’s power. Will at least one of them be able to put Jeff aside? Take into account that one dinger should be hit every three games by any player who wants to take a chance on the home run mark.
Most extra-base hits
2008: Lance Berkman, 41
The then-32-year-old Berkman was the best hitter from the 2008 Astros and he let everyone know about it since the beginning of the season: he collected 41 extra-base hits, thanks to 22 doubles, two triples, and 17 home runs.
Believe it or not, no one has even gotten close to that mark since 2008. Altuve recorded 31 in the first 60 games of the team in 2016, but that’s it.
To get the 41 extra bases, Berkman hit one every 5.3 at-bats that season. He finished as the National League leader in doubles (46).
Most runs batted in
1996: Jeff Bagwell, 60
Yes! On average, Bagwell drove in ONE run per game in 1996. Listen: in the first 60 games of that year, he had nine two-RBI games, five three-RBI games, three four-RBI games, and one five-RBI game. HOW ABOUT THAT?!
Besides Bagwell himself, the only Astros players to record at least 50 in the cited period since 1996 are Carlos Lee (52, in 2007), Berkman (52, in 2002), Hidalgo (51, in 2000), and Moisés Alou (51, in 1998).
Best average and OPS
2008: Lance Berkman, .384 AVG and 1.209 OPS
Not only is Berkman the leader in doubles, but he also established a high .384 average and a 1.209 OPS. In the 60 first games of the team in 2008, Lance registered 83 hits across 216 at-bats. He had more walks (35) than strikeouts (33).
Houston has hitters to think it could be possible to break both marks, especially with guys like Altuve or Yordan. But time will do its job.
Get ready to have a blast in 2020. We’re just days away from living one of the most interesting seasons in MLB history. Enjoy watching the Astros!