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Astros June Statistical Month in Review: Batting

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It doesn’t seem real. It probably won’t last.

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

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

The Astros finished the month 19-9, and for the year they are 48-33, currently 1st in the AL West, one-half game ahead of Oakland. Their run differential for year-to-date is +127, with 454 runs scored and 327 allowed, which by the Pythagorean W-L formula would translate to a 52-29 record. The 454 runs lead the AL by a wide margin.

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

Astros Monthly Batting Stats and Overall Rankings

Month BA/rank OBP/rank SLG/rank wRC+/rank HR/rank BABIP/rank
Month BA/rank OBP/rank SLG/rank wRC+/rank HR/rank BABIP/rank
April .257/4th .322/3rd .411/4th 114/2nd 26/12th .295/5th
May .271/2nd .344/2nd .434/3rd 121/2nd 33/6th .299/7th
June .294/1st .378/1st .488/1st 141/1st 43/3rd .337/1st
Overall .276/1st .351/1st .446/2nd 123/1st 103/5th .313/1st

I probably don’t need to tell very many Astros fans how extraordinary June, 2021 has been. That despite a steep fall-off the last week, when Astros hitting fell to wRC+102 for the last seven days. Yeah, average hitting seems horrible to spoiled Astros fans.

Overall, the best hitting teams in the AL for the year are: Houston (123 wRC+), Toronto (112 wRC+), Chicago (107 wRC+), Los Angeles (106 wRC+), and Boston, Minnesota, Oakland, New York, and Tampa Bay in order rounding out the top nine.

In June the Angels, Blue Jays, and Yankees all gave the Astros a run for their money for the top spot, sporting wRC+’s of 125, 121, and 116 respectively behind the Astros’ 141.

The Astros moved up in average Exit Velocity from seventh at 89.2 MPH to third at 89.9. (tied with Yankees), and fifth in Hard-Hit % at 41.5%, up from 39.7%.

June/Overall Individual Hitting Stats

Player 100 + Pas OPS June/ Overall wRC+ June/Overall HR June/Overall wOBA/xwOBA overall
Player 100 + Pas OPS June/ Overall wRC+ June/Overall HR June/Overall wOBA/xwOBA overall
Yuli Gurriel .934/.907 159/150 7/10 .386/343
Yordan Alvarez .905/.884 154/145 6/13 .378/.375
Alex Bregman .585/.787 53/119 1/7 .340/325
Carlos Correa 1.089/.916 198/155 7/15 .393/.377
Michael Brantley 1.022/.875 187/145 1/4 .378/.407
Jose Altuve .980/.875 165/142 10/17 .373/.357
Kyle Tucker .893/.811 147/122 2/13 .344/.409
Myles Straw .845/679 141/97 2/2 .306/.299
Martin Maldonado .673/.566 96/64 2/5 .256/.262

Key Takeaways

It should be no surprise that the Astros bats have cooled off from the torrid pace of the first three weeks of June. For the month the team BABIP is an unsustainable .337. It was close to .350 a week ago.

Looking at individual wOBA vs. expected wOBA figures three players have these numbers within ten points of one another, meaning their actual performance seems to line up with their underlying contact rates. Two players, Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker, have lower wOBA’s than xwOBA’s, meaning they should improve, and the rest are outperforming their xwOBA’s.

So, we probably shouldn’t expect the Astros to continue to hit as they did in June, nor even end the season equalling the 1976 Big Red Machine, much less the 1927 Yankees.

Still, what great fun. Seven out of nine starters had wRC+’s of 141 or greater in June. Yes, even Myles Straw. His season wRC+ is almost exactly league average now at 97.

Of course, Alex Bregman was slumping before his injury and was the worst Astros hitter in June before he got hurt. But his main replacement, Abraham Toro, not on the chart, hit 133 wRC+ for June.

Kyle Tucker continues to get cheated out of the results his batter profile deserves. His BABIP remains a low .277, and the differential between his wOBA and expected wOBA is an extreme 0.65. His xwOBA of .409 is 14th in MLB. Tucker’s expected BA of .322 is fourth, just behind Aaron Judge and just ahead of Byron Buxton.

Number one in xBA is Michael Brantley at .350, the other Astro whose wOBA lags behind xwOBA.

Leaderboards

The Astros have five players in the AL’s Top 20 in wRC+. They are Carlos Correa (6th), Yuli Gurriel (8th), Michael Brantley (10th), Yordan Alvarez (11th), and Jose Altuve (15).

These five plus Kyle Tucker are in the Top 30 in fWAR as well.

These are the team leaders in various categories:

BA: Michael Brantley........340

OPS: Carlos Correa..........916

Home Runs: Jose Altuve ...17

RBI: Yuli Gurriel.................52

Runs: Jose Altuve.............59

Question

Why is Robel Garcia getting half the playing time at third base instead of Abraham Toro getting most of the playing time?

With about the same number of PA’s as Abraham Toro, Garcia is slashing .197/.254/279, with an OPS of .532

Toro is slashing .245/.321/..367 with an OPS of .689. In June Toro’s OPS is .831. Garcia’s is .589.

Both are switch hitters. Toro at age 24 is still improving and needs playing time to continue his growth. At age 28 Garcia is probably at his ceiling.

Toro could have a future as a starter in an Astros uniform. What better time to find out than during this extended injury to Alex Bregman. Toro has taken advantage of his opportunities when presented. He has earned the right to play most days in Bregman's absence.