My intent is to break down the division over the next two days and see where we can look forward over the last 70 games of the season. I will break down each team into the 4 parts; hitting, fielding, starting pitching and the bullpen. Starting from the bottom of the division and working up let’s start with Houston. It has been a tough year for the Astros with little prospect of seeing any improvement. I even heard a tweet recently that suggested either Houston or Arizona are in play to move to the American League in a realignment maneuver as part of the next basic labor agreement.
Houston sits at the bottom of the division and rest in a deep enough hole that they can’t even see daylight. The Astros have almost no good stories surrounding them; they have a 30-62 record meaning they need to go 51-19 just to get to a .500 record. The lone Houston representative to the All Star Game, Hunter Pence, may simply be a piece of meat on display for the rest of the league in hopes of generating trade interest.
Houston is tied for 4th in the league in batting average a .260 and they actually lead the league in doubles with 191. The doubles lead may be due in part to the odd shape of Minute Maid Park. They do have speed with 70 SBs and only 15 CS. That is the good. On the other side of the scale is that they only have 335 RBIs and a team OPS of .692. The only every day player on the team with an OPS over .800 is Hunter Pence. In addition 4 Houston starters have batting averages at .250 or less. Oh and did I mention that while 4 teams have 100 or more home runs, the Astros languish with just 50.
Houston is not a smooth fielding team. They have committed 67 errors so far this season and as a result have a fielding percentage of just .980. The result of these miscues are a league leading 45 unearned runs penalizing an already struggling pitching staff. Third basemen Chris Johnson leads the team with 8 errors and a horrific fielding percentage of .955. The best fielding percentage among starters is shared by First Basemen Brett Wallace and Center Fielder Michael Bourn at .991.
The starting rotation has struggled for the Astros as you might expect. Starters have a 4.69 ERA. The most frightening statistic I have stumbled upon concerning this team is that starters have a record of 17-43. They have offered up 319 walks or the 3rd most in the league. The starter with the most wins is Wandy Rodriguez with a 6-6 record while Bud Norris leads the starters with a passable 3.46 ERA. On the other end of the spectrum, J.A. Happ has a 3-11 record with a 5.76.
RA = Relief Appearances: Total # of Relief Appearances
QRO = Quality Relief Outing: # of Appearances where more outs are recorded than hits + walks and a 3.00 ERA is maintained for the relief appearance.
FRO = Failed Relief Outing: # of Appearances where earned runs are allowed, inherited runners score or no outs are recorded. (See ERA allowance in the QRO description
ND = No Decision. Does not meet the criteria for a QRO or a FRO
QAR = Quality Appearance Ratio: QRO/RA
FAR = Failed Appearance Ratio: FRO/RA
The bullpen for the Astros is not good at all. They are consistent though. Since the beginning of the season when I first started to keep track of bullpen success rates the Houston pen has been very consistent with a 62% success rate. Not great but at least they aren’t getting worse as the season progresses. Lyon, Abad, Valdez and Figueroa all have an ERA in excess of 7.00 with at least 13 IP.
Houston is not a good team, and the All Star break will make no changes to this observation. The Astros have few commodities that might be desired in trade. Hunter Pence has been suggested as a possibly available and Bud Norris, Sergio Escalona, Wilton Lopez and Pence may be the only ones even desired. With the suggestion made on Twitter by @DKnobler the senior baseball writer for CBS that the Astros are one of two teams being discussed as a possible team to be realigned, it is a tough day to be an Astros fan.
Stay tuned for more evaluations tomorrow.
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