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The 2021 offense could be the best of this Astros era

The well-oiled machine of years past is still here.

MLB: Game Two-Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s Astros offense wasn’t supposed to be as good as it had been in recent years. Handling the overwhelming fallout of a cheating scandal and suffering the loss of a key player would sound too arduous for any lineup to overcome. Or so it would seem.

Astros hitters are once again producing incredible numbers, and based on the underlying data, there may be no end in sight for opposing pitchers. The historically good 2019 unit scored 920 runs in the regular season. That mark is set to be matched this year, as the 2021 troop is on pace to score that exact amount.

What makes this feat thoroughly impressive is the context in which it’s occurred. Not only have the Astros been relentlessly booed and heckled by fans on the road in 2021, the club entered the season shortly after one of the lineup’s longtime cornerstones, George Springer, signed elsewhere in free agency.

Perhaps what’s more notable is the main tangible difference between 2019 and 2021 — the baseball itself. Two years ago, the “juiced” ball was in play. Now, Major League Baseball has implemented a deader ball, one that’s not as easy for hitters to send into the outfield bleachers.

In spite of the challenges both on and off the field this year, the Astros’ offense remains highly potent.

2019 v. 2021

Year wRC+ wOBA xwOBA Chase % Whiff % Hard Hit %
Year wRC+ wOBA xwOBA Chase % Whiff % Hard Hit %
2019 126 0.355 0.333 26.5 20.9 35.5
2021 125 0.347 0.346 24.4 20.5 41.8
via Baseball Savant & FanGraphs

There has been explosive output at Minute Maid Park (.344 wOBA) and away (.349 wOBA) from it. Multiple players such as Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel are having career years. Kyle Tucker, who could wind up being the team’s best hitter in short order, is quietly putting together an amazing season, albeit one that’s been hampered by a substantial amount of bad luck.

Many indicators point to continued prosperity. Health permitting, the Astros’ unyielding hitting corps will look to keep feasting at the plate.