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Astros April Statistical Month in Review: Batting.

Despite a mid-April slump, the Astros are near the top in most categories.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the Astros’ April statistical month in review. Today, we’ll look at hitting. Tomorrow we’ll focus on pitching.

The Astros finished the month 14-12, third in the AL, one-half game behind Seattle, and 1.5 games behind Oakland. Their run differential was 31, with 131 runs scored and 100 allowed, which by the Pythagorean W-L formula would translate to a 16-10 record.

Here’s how Astros hitters compare to the American League.

Astros May and Overall Hitting Stats Ranked Against AL.

BA/rank OBP/rank SLG/rank wRC+/rank HR/rank BABIP/rank
BA/rank OBP/rank SLG/rank wRC+/rank HR/rank BABIP/rank
.257/4th .322/3rd .411/4th 114/2nd 26/12th .295/5th

Key Takeaways:

In the best statistic of overall hitting the Astros are second in wRC+ at 114, behind the #1 White Sox who are at 118. Directly behind the Astros are the Angels at 113, the Red Sox at 112, the Twins at 106, the Yankees at 105, Tampa Bay at 101, and Oakland at 100.

Even better, the Astros are #1 in run production, 131, just ahead of the White Sox. This despite being only 12th in home runs.

The Astros are only 10th in hard hit % at 38.5% and eighth at EV at 88.9%.

Astros Individual Hitting statistics, April

Player (60+ PA's) BA OBP SLG wRC+ HR Runs/RBI BABIP EV wOBA xwOBA
Player (60+ PA's) BA OBP SLG wRC+ HR Runs/RBI BABIP EV wOBA xwOBA
Yuli Gurriel .344 .443 .556 192 4 11/16 .360 91.5 ..432 .398
Michael Brantley .345 .374 .552 168 2 17/5 .389 89.9 .397 .389
Yordan Alvarez .315 .358 .521 149 2 11/14 .396 90.2 .370 .351
Carlos Correa .303 .352 .495 145 4 16/13 .325 90.8 .365 .373
Alex Bregman .299 .357 .481 143 4 13/14 .322 86.9 .361 .340
Aledmys Diaz .259 .328 .397 115 1 7/11 .311 87.7 .321 .380
Jose Altuve .273 .315 .364 98 1 12/8 .304 87.7 .297 .386
Kyle Tucker .181 .238 .372 75 5 12/15 .164 91.2 .263 .378
Myles Straw .212 .289 .259 66 0 9/10 .265 86.0 .250 .299
Martin Maldonado .102 .172 .153 -1 0 4/0 .188 86.8 .154 .178

Key Takeaways:

Yuli Gurriel has been the Astros best hitter by just about every measure, followed by Michael Brantley. One of the great surprises about Gurriel outside the chart above is Gurriel’s plate discipline. He is walking 15.1% of PA’s compared to a career average of 5.2%. He has improved in this almost every year of his career, but this represents a quantum leap. It would be wonderful if this improved plate discipline is the key to his success and that it continues. If so, could Gurriel be headed for MVP contention?

Lots of ifs there for so early in the season but....

As we’ve already written, and as anyone who watches the Astros already knows, Kyle Tucker has been extraordinarily unlucky. His .378 xWOBA is near tops on the team, but his actual WOBA is near the bottom at .263. Still, he accounts for 27 runs, second behind team leader Carlos Correa at 29, and tied with Gurriel and Alex Bregman. And Tucker leads the team in homers at 5.

There’s no charitable way to look at Martin Maldonado's production, and one wonders how much longer Jason Castro can sit on the bench most of the time. In 36 PA’s Castro has a 148 wRC+ and 0.4 fWAR. Maldonado has a -1 wRC+ and -0.3 fWAR. His K% is 42.2 %.

The only Astros close to the top of AL-hitting leaderboards are Gurriel and Brantley. Gurriel is 10th in wRC+ and Brantley 21st. Ahead of Gurriel are, in order, Byron Buxton, Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Carson Kelly, Yermin Mercedes, Buster Posey, Ronald Acuna Jr, and Jesse Winker. (60 PA’s min)

Gurriel is also 10th in fWAR at 1.3. Buxton leads in fWAR in only 18 games at 2.3 just ahead of Trout.

Questions and answers

Before the season there were a number of questions the answers to which were crucial to Astros success. What does the first month tell us?

Question 1. Was Altuve’s subpar 2020 a small-sample fluke or a harbinger of the future?

Answer. He was hot before COVID and since the first game back ice cold. Too soon to say.

Question 2. Was Yuli Gurriel over the hill?

Answer. Not so far. Maybe the best is yet to come.

Question 3. Would Yordan Alvarez come back from knee surgery and overcome the sophomore jinx?

Answer. His counting numbers are not as great as 2019, and he’s only hit 2 homers, but he’s still crushing the ball, with an xSLG of .541. He just needs to get under a few of those line drives he’s been hitting with max velocity of 114.7. And he appears to be running well.

Question 4. Is Myles Straw the answer at CF?

Answer. So far, No. Even his Fangraphs DEF rating is negative. His fWAR is 0.0.

These first 26 games are about one-sixth of the season. Obviously, we can’t extrapolate too much from such a small sample, but they’re not nothing either. Probably Gurriel and Brantley will cool off some, while Tucker and Altuve improve numbers-wise. And Bregman is a historically slow-starter.

Also, either Maldonado gets better soon, or he gets less playing time.