The Not So Magnificent Seven Astros

strike-out2

The following chart shows only the seven Houston Astros who struck out at least 100 times during the 2015 regular season. All but one of the tabular charted categories should be familiar to all. The “KA” column was added to reflect the percentage of times a player struck out over the season during his total official times at bat – and does not include “ball-in-play” credit he deserves to receive with more time to add that data from the sacrifice fly list. What we have here is enough to make the point in this column with data that we all mostly know in our gut from watching the team this year.

We don’t have enough guys in the everyday lineup who are capable of putting the ball in play without striking out too much of the time. We all know that’s what beat the Astros in the top of the 8th of Game 4 in the ALDS. The KC Royals put the ball in play against a pitching staff with no great skill at preventing a flood of good contact hitters.

Bottom Line: If a club strikes out a lot, they are not putting the ball in play often enough to get more hits and chances for hits, defensive player errors, lucky bounces and glove skims, or mistaken positioning on the field. Such a “hit or miss and sit” club will also not reap the benefits of lucky bounces or other advantages available courtesy of physical laws governing mass, energy, movement, and speed.

Here are the seven members of the 2016 Houston Astros’ “hit or miss and sit” club:

The Seven 100 Plus “K” Players: 2015 Houston Astros

#   Name   K   KA   AB   H   BA   HR
1 Colby Rasmus 154 .357 432 103 .238 25
2 Chris Carter 151 .386 391 78 .199 24
3 Evan Gattis 119 .210 566 139 .246 27
4 Jason Castro 115 .341 337 71 .211 11
5 George Springer 109 .281 388 107 .276 16
6 Luis Valbuena 106 .244 434 97 .224 25
7 Jake Marisnick 105 .310 339 80 .236 9

Chris Carter compiled a club-leading “KA” of .386. – Think about that. – It says he came close to “not putting the ball in play” almost 40% of the time he was charged with an official time at bat in 2015. – Are the 24 home runs that Carter hit worth the time he spent in the lineup as either a first baseman – or an occasional designated hitter – while also batting only .199?

Who do the 2016 Astros  keep from this group? Except for the tremendously talented, youthful upside prospects for future production and the current contract cost control that comes with George Springer, and as much as I do like Colby Rasmus and Jake Marisnick for their defensive skills and outfield position flexibility, and Evan Gattis for his RBI threat and lower KA of .210, none of these other guys help as with the need for more contact hitters who get on base more often – nor do they fill the need for 1st and 3rd basemen in 2016 who are closer in quality to the guys we have in the middle infield spots.

Another problem – Dallas Keuchel says he would love to team with Jason Castro as his battery mate for many successful years to come. That’s great, but at what cost will that be to the basic dead spot that Castro is proving to be in the Astros daily lineup?

Luis Valbuena is a good fielding streaky home run hitter with a .224 batting average, but, at .244, he bears the second best KA among the seven members of today’s club of seven. His batting average is far too low for either a contending club’s corner infielder spots and the team also loses base runners and scoring opportunities during the non-hitting phases of his streaks.

What do you think? And please let us hear from you in the comment section.

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eagle-0range

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4 Responses to “The Not So Magnificent Seven Astros”

  1. Rick B. Says:

    The only one of the seven who is a “must keep” is Springer. Carter and Valbuena need to go. Gattis and Rasmus did what was expected of them, but they’re expendable (depending on who replaces them). Marisnick could be given more time to develop into a better hitter. As for Castro, a lot depends on his ability to call a game, handle the staff, and shut down the running game. Is he that good? If he’s the second coming of Brad Ausmus, he may be worth keeping, but then the team definitely needs better batters in front of him.

    I’m continually impressed by the Royals – their performance in game two was impressive. They clearly have an organizational hitting philosophy that their players buy into, and it has worked to the tune of back-to-back World Series appearances. If the Astros are going to improve offensively, they’d do well to move away from their “homer or K” approach.

  2. gregclucas Says:

    I like this story and wonder what an acceptable level for a K avg. would be. Gattis at .210 might be acceptable and even Valbuena’s .244 is not awful. Would a number equal to an acceptable batting average be the guideline–as too high. Interesting to compare with some good hitters who also K a lot.

  3. gregclucas Says:

    That was typed as Gattis but was changed one I posted the comment. Right now it says Gattis, but what happens when I post?

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