Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bregman Stats Climbing at the Break

July 19, 2018

What Alex Bregman may look like someday when he’s too old to play any more baseball.

Well, he may not really be Paul Newman, but Alex Bregman is still playing a Cool Hand Luke brand of baseball these days. He works hard at his craft and he fights back fiercely at everything that fate and pitching dementia throws at him, apparently against all odds.

That first observation also begs for another Newman-driven movie title here to theorize why things first stuck in adversity so often bounce back Bregman’s way. ~ Maybe, yes, just maybe, ~ “Somebody Up There Likes Him.”

What happened Monday and Tuesday in Washington was typical of the snapback pattern this guy has in his determination to make something good happen. Monday night, as the only American League contestant in the Home Run contest, Alex had to beat out this mad grinning, much bigger Bluto of a guy from the Cubs in the first round. He pretty much came on like Popeye in the process. With time running out, Alex needed one more homer to force a tie that he probably could have then broken for a first round win in the bonus time he had earned en route.

Alas, the last long drive to deep left center fell about two feet short and Bregman was done. For Monday night, at least. As for how this low AL interest in the Monday Home Run Derby started, we may have gotten our answer Tuesday. Some of them apparently were saving their homers for the Tuesday game itself.

Maybe it just takes a guy like Alex Bregman to see and then take best advantage of every golden opportunity that comes his way. It also helps to be lucky – and also to have a manager like A.J. Hinch, a guy who knew that putting Bregman in the lineup as a sub at shortstop could make a difference at a critical moment late in the game. And wouldn’t you know it? The home boy NLs tied up the game at 5-5 through nine – forcing about the dreaded extra innings and a kid named Alex Bregman leading off the top of the tenth – and standing squarely in the way of the game reaching a player over-use crisis.

Bregman took the count to 2-2 – long enough for Joe Buck to start yakking about the problems of all-star games and player over-usage when – all of a sudden – it didn’t matter.

Remember, the pitcher had two strikes on Alex. ~ Bregman had him right where he wanted him. Alex drove the next ball over the left field fence and into the bullpen. The face and fire of joy took over the Bregman body and soul as he answered every slap of congratulations from his teammates with resounding force and deliriously happy fury.

Somewhere now standing from the best seat in the house, Commissioner Manfred had to be upright for as far as he can rise, applauding, and grinning his head off as he silently screamed his newfound mantra: “Thank God for Alex Bregman! ~ Now I’m off the hook for my own embarrassing Bud-Selig-All-Star-Game tie moment in the bottom of the 17th inning! ~ And, Oh YES!  Thank You too, George Springer! Why, I only had to rise once to see the Astros serve the turkey and dressing ~ and then they also quickly poured gravy on it too! What a beautiful, butt-saving, flying-frito deal this is turning out to be! ~ Don’t go far away, Mr. Alex Bregman! You don’t know it yet, but you just won the MVP award, if this lead holds!”

You just read what happened next in the Commissioner’s mind. There was barely time for Bregman to celebrate alone because Astros teammate George Springer then walked to the plate and took the very first pitch thrown since the last dinger went yard and crunched it even deeper to right for an opposite field homer.

The Bregman-Springer two-pitch back-to-backs would stand as a baseball version of the old one-two punch-out to both cheeks of the NL pitching face. The AL then used a series of hits to add the only run scored without homer aid as the game retired to the bottom of the tenth with an 8-5 AL lead looming large. The NL found a way to add their 5th HR for the 10th record homer of the game, but AL 8 – NL 6 would hold up as the final score.

Wow! And wouldn’t you know it! Mr. Bregman was named the game’s MVP. He even got to select a Chevy Camaro as part of the gift package. The rest of the gift was the fact that he got to be seen by millions as he gave the car in person to his mother, who happened to be at the game with his father.

Raise your hands if you have a kid who ever gave you a Camaro?

Yep. Tuesday came with all the character we Houston fans have come to enjoy. It toyed with all the elements we need around here for pleasant dreams from all the “walk-off” redemption wins we’ve enjoyed, courtesy of Alex Bergman. In fact, the first such game of note involving Alex Bregman that most us will remember forever is worth its weight in ways that go way beyond gold or the even lesser value of any new Chevy Camara or Chevy truck.

It was called Game 5 of the 2017 World Series.

Offense Leaders at the All Star Break

The following table shows where the Astros are relative to AL offensive categorical leadership at the 2018 All Star break. Jose Altuve remains the only Astros leader, but even Jose is off the mark in the important batting average category.

As for whose hanging close to the leaders in 2018, it is now Alex Bregman’s name that is appearing most often as the closest Astro in the chase. Bregman is also now hitting .288 and he seems to be on a steady climb from his earlier plateau around .260. If he keeps it up, he’s well on his way to the magical .300 mark gate.

2018 AL Offensive Category Leaders

And Astros Contenders in Each:

LEADER NAME TEAM STAT NEXT ASTRO RANK   STAT
BA MookieBetts BRS .359 Jose Altuve 2 .332
GAMES Jose Altuve Astros 99 Bregman/Springer 4t 96
HITS Jose Altuve Astros 129 no one close
1BH Jose Altuve Astros 95 no one close
2BH E. Escobar Twins 35 Alex Bregman 2 31
3BH Y. Sanchez CWS 9 Marwin Gonzalez 10t 3
HR JDMartinez

J. Rameriz

BRS Indians 29 (1t) Alex Bregman 12t 20
RUNS F. Lindor Indians 85 Alex Bregman 7 67
RBI JDMartinez BRS 80 Alex Bregman 6t 64
WALKS Mike Trout Angels 86 Alex Bregman 5t 56
SLG % MookieBetts BRS .691 Alex Bregman 8 .539
OB % Mike Trout Angels .454 Jose Altuve               Alex Bregman 5         8 .394 .389
OB+SLG% MookieBetts BRS 1.139 Alex Bregman 8 .928

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Hero of the 1950 All Star Game

July 15, 2018

Red Schoendienst and Bill McCurdy (L)
Cardinals Club Suite
Busch Stadium II
May 1998

In that limited time I had with Red Schoendienst

In the limited time I had with Red Schoendienst in the Cardinals Suite back in 1998, I was able to tell him how his 14th inning NL game-winning home run in the 14th inning back in the 1950 All Star Game made our entire little Houston sandlot team happy. Red answered my news with a patient smile and a two-pat light slap on the shoulder. All I needed to hear could be seen in the sincerity of the man’s eyes.

That 1950 All Star Game, which we could only “watch” over the radio in Houston during those pre-television days, kept us tied to our home radios for most of the afternoon. And when it was done, we all had some welcome steam to play us away into the darkness of a later than usual stopping point.

The 1950 All-Star Game

(Excerpted precisely from Baseball Almanac.Com)

As the All-Star game entered its third decade, the National League was tired of being baseball’s perennial loser. Trailing 12-4 in All-Star Games and losing the three previous World Series, the National League did not have the fans or American League players respect anymore.

Inspired by their poor showing in the previous decades, the National League resolved to make this year different. The 1950 All-Star Game turned out to be the first to go into extra innings, featured two dramatic home runs and produced some of the finest All-Star pitching ever. As usual, the American League was leading (3-2) in the top of the ninth. Then, Ralph Kiner led off with a long home run that tied the score and set the stage for a three-inning pitchers’ duel.

Larry Jansen pitched for the National League into the eleventh inning while giving up one hit in five innings. Allie Reynolds matched him, taking the American League into the twelfth and giving up one hit over three innings. Pitcher Ted Gray took over for the American League in the thirteenth and maintained the status quo. In the fourteenth, however, the National League fired another leadoff rocket off the bat of Red Schoendienst. He was an unlikely hero as he had sat for ten innings while Jackie Robinson played second. Entering the game defensively in the eleventh, Schoendienst stepped up in the fourteenth and homered into the left-field stands. Even more disheartening was the American League loss of Ted Williams. While making a running catch of a Kiner drive in the first inning, he ran into the wall and broke his elbow. He stayed in the game, visibly injured, and went one-for-four. Later he underwent surgery and didn’t play again until September 15. The National League had gone the distance and made a statement. Finally, they had established a momentum that would last for several years.

1950 All-Star Game1950 All-Star Game Program
1950 All-Star Game Official Program

Game Number

17

Date / Box Score

07-11-1950

Location

Comiskey Park

Attendance (Rank)

46,127

1st Pitch

Connie Mack

M.V.P. Award

Not Awarded Until 1962

Starting Pitchers

Vic Raschi

Robin Roberts

Managers

Casey Stengel

Burt Shotton

Coaches

Frankie Crosetti

Jake Pitler

Bill Dickey

Milt Stock

 

1950 All-Star GameLine Score

League

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 R H E

National

0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 10 0

American

0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 1

Robin Roberts
Don Newcombe (4th)
Jim Konstanty (6th)
Larry Jansen (7th)
Ewell Blackwell (W, 12)

Vic Raschi
   Bob Lemon (4th)
Art Houtteman (7th)
Allie Reynolds (10th)
Ted Gray (L, 13th)
Bob Feller (14th)

Ralph Kiner (9th)
Red Schoendienst (14th)

None

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Houston Baseball Affinity History Notes

15-16 years later, NL right hander Robin Roberts would start and win 8 games for the 1965-66 Houston Astros. … NL shortstop Marty Marion would earlier serve as principal owner and President of the last group to own and run the minor league Houston Buffs from 1959 to 1961 over the last three years prior to the city’s emergence as a 1962 NL expansion club.

The Schoendienst eventual game-winning homer in the top of the 14th at Comiskey Park during the afternoon of the 1950 All Star Game gave the spirit of the Pecan Park Eagles an extra boost as we went into afternoon sandlot competition a little later than usual.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Houston ’98: Stadium Work on Schedule

July 14, 2018

Excerpt from the Victoria (TX) Advocate, July 24, 1998:

As the Astros sign to remain in Minute Maid Park through 2050, here’s another timely historical contribution by the always keen researching mind that is Darrell Pittman.

 

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

“Chairman of the Bored” No More

July 13, 2018

Jack Strider Thriller #1
2012

 

Jack Strider Thriller #2
2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand New 2018
Jack Strider Thriller #3

Before we talk a little more about Jack Strider, I feel compelled to write a little about his Victor Frankenstein, author Rob Sangster. A cautionary note: As a fictional character of great genius for sniffing out some of the most intelligently malevolent villains on earth and then beating them to the punch on their various designs for an exploding world of tumbling egos, Jack Strider is only a monster in his capacity for toppling the giants of evil with great intellect and whatever else it selectively takes each time with great panache.

SANGSTER 5 CLOSE UP

Rob Sangster Today

Rob Sangster, even at this point in our lives, is still one of my favorite grounding wires to what’s really important in life when it comes to how we spend our time and energies, as I hope this little example will demonstrate.

It was an afternoon class in Latin IV in the spring of 1956. We had no AC back then and fully open windows were not helping much. Sitting side by side near the back of Father Sheehan’s class, Rob was busy sketching something – while I was occupied with working on an update of the Houston Buffs’ team stats. When I looked over to see what Rob was creating, he held his work high enough for me to see. It was a board room scene. A lot of “Z”s were flying through the air. An arrow pointed to the man sleeping at the head table position. An identifying script described him as “Chairman of the Bored.”

Then, looking over, Rob shot me a quick smile as his right hand index finger pointed first to the sketched bored chairman –  and then his right thumb gave the hitch-hike sign to himself. I was able to respond with a mime’s version of “me too.”

Enough said.

There is nothing boring about Jack Strider and his small crew of very with-it human super heroes. Each of the three books in this series features Debra Vanderberg as Jack’s law partner and “very significant other” and Gano LeMoine as his ongoing supportive man Friday, air pilot, tail gunner and purveyor of all necessary skullduggery.

It isn’t necessary to have read all three Jack Strider adventures in a row to enjoy any of the three stories. They will all sweep you up for the most exciting ride you’ve ever taken by the printed word because – Rob Sangster is the best action/adventure/thriller writer in the world today.

In fact, whenever “No Return” becomes a big screen movie, the visual producers will be hard-pressed to concoct an opening scene that plays out as shockingly as the one that kicks off the one you are about to read and live through in print form.

SANGSTER 4 FULL FOTO

Rob Sangster was not born with a mind and spirit to over-live its spark in board rooms.

About the Jack Strider Series. “Rob Sangster’s first Strider novel, Ground Truth, was #1 on Amazon Kindle. His second, Deep Time, 2017 Epic Award for best suspense/thriller of the new year. A Stanford lawyer with experience in finance, politics, and public service, he’s an avid sailor who has travelled in more than 100 countries. Rob and his mystery writer wife divide their time between homes in Tennessee and on the wild coast of Bova Scotia.”

A Very Small Footnote: A new Strider figure makes his debut as a fictional character in “No Return”. And his name is …. whoops …. Bill McCurdy.

SANGSTER-MCCURDY

STRONG? …. GOOD SHAPE? …. TAKING ON DESK JOCKEYS IN GUN FIGHTS? …. YEP! …. THAT’S ME ALL RIGHT!

Please forgive my inner smile as I read and witness my own fictional character getting rapidly into more trouble than even these few lines can – or – should – reveal out of full context with a story that is altogether brilliant, dynamic, and fast moving. In my case, my fictional life turns out to be far more romantic and incredibly inter-woven into a larger darker plan than my pleasant easygoing reality could ever hope to abide.

If you like to run your adrenalin juices through a credible reality escape story, however, you should enjoy “No Return” as much as you did the first two Tales of Strider! And if this is your first Sangster read, be prepared to want more when you’re done here.

Nobody today does this genre better than Rob Sangster. ~ Nobody.

This tsunami of credible terror has been brewing since Rob Sangster was “Chairman of the Bored” back in our St. Thomas High School days.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MMP Error Call Should Be Reversed

July 7, 2018

Yuli Gurriel
Robbed of a Double by the official scorer at MMP on Friday night.

 

In the Friday night big 7-run 8th inning for the Astros, Chicago right fielder Avisail Garcia was charged with an error when he allegedly misjudged a fly ball hit by Yuli Gurriel and it bounced behind him, just inside the line fair, and sailed into the near side lower right field stands. The bases were loaded at the time and two more Astros runs scored as a result. Even the Astros broadcast crew spoke what almost all our eyes first told us as we watched the tough play unfold – that Gurriel would be credited with a ground rule double and two runs batted in.

Not so, according to the official scorer, whomever that dubious authority may be. He or she ruled the play as an error on Garcia for misjudging the descent of the ball, taking away Gurriel’s double and 2 RBI, and earmarking the two runs as unearned.

The MLB office needs to both review the “E” call and also look into the MMP official scorer’s general readiness to carry out the charge that goes with this important scoring assignment. I can think of a lot of outfielders who could have made this play, but all of them are either Astros or players who are much more familiar with MMP than Avisail Garcia.

A larger point – anyone who has actually played the outfield, especially the two corner spots, would know that Garcia was not guilty of an error on that fluke play and that Gurriel has now been deprived of the ground rule double and other accolades that go with it. The call needs to be reversed and our local official scorer either needs a continuing education seminar or a replacement in this role. The integrity of the game deserves the best – and this call wasn’t even close.

Even if we don’t talk about it enough in these terms, those of us who’ve played enough outfield at any level understand this much about fly balls:

  1. The fly balls that reach us off the bat while we are positioned in the vertical cone path of ascent are the easiest to catch when they are coming at us 10 to 20 feet either side of where we stand. Of this total group, the line drives hit directly at us are the hardest to judge. On these, we have to rely heavily upon the sound the ball makes coming off the bat to tell us if a ball is going to be sinking to the ground before it reaches us – or still soaring in ascent to go over our head. “The Catch” by Willie Mays of the Vic Wertz blast in the 1954 World Series is my favorite memory of such a dangerous ball being captured. On these within the vertical cone blasts, a slight side vantage view within the cone is a big help on the depth question by the way it gives us a slant on the “coming down early” to “headed for deeper ground than me” question.
  2. The ball that “fooled” Garcia had a vertical cone path whose dead center proved to be one-foot fair down the right field line. From there, as we saw, the ball had the ability to take a high bounce foul into the stands, located only a few further feet away.
  3. Garcia was not in the vertical cone path of Gurriel’s batted ball in the 8th. He had a great bead on where it was coming down from his running view outside the cone, but he had a very long horizontal run just to get under it almost simultaneously when the ball hit the ground fair behind him and bounced – untouched by Garcia – into the stands.
  4. Even when they help us track where the ball is coming down, horizontal runs to a ball’s vertical cone path cause the head to bob as the fielder now tries to keep a closer eye on the ball’s descent from afar. At MMP, a fielder less familiar with the park may also be much more conscious at the same time of wanting to avoid an injury slam into the low-laying stands.
  5. My conclusion: Avisail Garcia did not misjudge or err in his play of the ball hit by Yuli Gurriel in the 8th inning of Houston’s 11-4 Friday night win over the White Sox. He simply could not make the play. And there is no basis for an error assignment. The error call should be reversed and a hit credit should be restored to Yuli Gurriel.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

BA Question Sparks Bobblehead Possibility

June 30, 2018

BOBBLE

2018 American League Batting Average Leaders

Through Games of 6/29/2018:

# Leaders Team G AB H BA
1 Jose Altuve Astros 84 329 112 .340
2 Mookie Betts Red Sox 63 242 82 .339
3 Jean Segura Mariners 76 317 107 .338
4 Andrelton Simmons Angels 72 297 86 .322
5 JD Martinez Red Sox 79 302 97 .3212
6 Mike Trout Angels 83 287 92 .3210
7 Matt Duffy Rays 65 257 81 .315
8 Eddie Rosario Twins 77 308 96 .312
9 Michael Brantley Indians 69 280 86 .3071
10 Jon Jay Royals 59 238 73 .3067
  • Astros Above shown in bold type.

The Run of Things Going Into the All Star Break. Jose Altuve has hit a cooler spot in the long season run. It’s not as bad as George Springer’s big chill at the plate, of course, but still close enough to AC room air temp to allow Mr. Altuve more company near the top view of the whole house than he might really desire to welcome.

Anyway, that’s baseball. And it’s all part of the long season.

A curiosity. The PP Eagle will continue to run these updates sporadically during the season – and more often come September as we continue to track Jose Altuve’s pursuit of a 4th American League batting average championship. In that light, we have elected to follow the bare statistical facts that are germaine to the competition – times at bat, hits, and batting average.

We do not, however, have a ready answer to the way Baseball Reference.Com chooses to handle players who qualify by their AL numbers, but would not count, if we took their other playing time with an NL club into consideration too prior to an earlier this same season trade or pick up.

So far, John Jay, the 10th ranked hitter today, forces these questions: Does John Jay really qualify? And, at season’s end, when all of his MLB stats are considered together, will his NL stats at San Diego in 2018 undermine his chances for the AL batting title?

John Jay is hitting .307 as a 2018 AL batter. Baseball Reference.Com does not hold the .244 that Jay batted for San Diego in the 21 games he played there before joining the Royals after the start of this season. If they did, his aggregate average for the whole season would be .291, to date, and he would not be listed among the AL leaders here.

My understanding is that a batter’s performance for a whole season, both leagues combined, would be considered in determining a batting championship.

But, what if a player hit .400 in the NL but got traded at the August 31st deadline to an AL club because he ran off with the NL club owner’s wife – and then hammered the AL pitchers with enough hits in September to qualify as the batting champion of both leagues? How does that work? Do you have to get most of your hits in one league to qualify as the BA champion? Or do you just treat whatever you did in the other league that season as a non-event?

It goes without saying, but leave it to me, I’ll say it anyway: If you are hitting .400 in August, but you get traded before the deadline because it’s learned that you’ve been stepping out with the club owner’s wife, don’t be surprised if the team’s marketing people come up with the world’s first triple person bobble-head giveaway figure – just in time for the first game of the playoffs. – It will feature the club owner getting ready to deliver a serious double-duty kick to the posteriors of both his former wife and former star slugger.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

Astro Relief? Round Up the Usual Suspects!

June 5, 2018

My apologies.

A lot of work that went into the content of this column was lost at publication by an accidental deletion, but that’s OK. This chart and what just happened in the last two games of the Red Sox Series here in Houston was the gist of it.

The Astros need to address the crack in the bullpen. Our starters are not likely to keep us from a title repeat, nor will our offense likely stop us from our second World Series, but …. that bullpen …. that bullpen we now have could cost us everything if the same guys keep showing up and failing to hold even multiple run leads in late innings. We have to take action to shore things up, by whatever ways are both practical and possible. My designated “suspects” for removal, assignment. sale, or trade are highlighted in bold type.

Yes, we know that Giles has 10 saves, but they were low pressure game saves. We think Giles has the kind of talent that will require “PTSD” treatment similar to the remedy that worked for Brad Lidge. It probably needs to happen elsewhere – and not as a member of the Astros.

2018: The Usual Suspects

Astros Relief Staff, June 4, 2018

# Suspect Age G W L IP ER H HR BB SO ERA
1 Joe Smith 34 21 2 1 18.0 11 14 3 6 18 5.50
2 Ken Giles 27 22 0 1 19.0 11 23 1 1 18 5.21
3 Will Harris 33 25 1 3 20.1 11 21 2 6 21 4.87
4 Tony Sipp 34 16 0 0 12.2 4 9 0 5 11 2.84
5 Brad Peacock 30 22 1 3 22.2 7 18 5 6 31 2.78
6 Chris Devenski 27 24 1 1 22.2 5 17 2 7 29 1.99
7 Hector Rondon 30 24 1 1 20.2 4 18 1 4 24 1.74
8 Collin McHugh 31 19 1 0 27.1 4 19 2 6 37 1.32

Astros Pitching Continues to Dominate in May

June 5, 2018

Astros Pitching Continues to Dominate in May

The Houston Astros finished the month of May with a record of 36-22 in first place in the American League West Division, one game ahead of the Seattle Mariners. The month of May was a difficult one, opening against the New York Yankees and finishing with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the two strongest teams in the major leagues. Their record in May was 16-12 with 5 of the losses to the Yankees.

The Astros success this season has been largely due to their incredible starting pitching. None of the five pitchers in the starting rotation have missed a start and they have combined for an ERA of 2.54, by far the best in MLB. Three of the top four pitchers in the AL based on ERA are Astros, Justin Verlander (1.11), Gerrit Cole (2.05) and Charlie Morton (2.25). Cole pitched one of the best games ever by an Astro pitcher, a one-hitter with 16 strikeouts against Arizona.

The relief pitchers have suffered a few bumps but, overall, the bullpen’s ERA of 3.04 is the 4th best in the major leagues.

While the pitching has exceeded expectations, the hitting has not. A repeat of last year’s average of 5.53 runs scored per game was not likely but the Astros are averaging 4.96 runs per game while 5 teams, led by the Yankees at 5.64 are scoring over 5 runs per game. The Astros are one of the top 6 or 7 offensive teams in MLB but not at the top as they were in 2017.

The only Astro player who is having a career year is backup catcher, Max Stassi, .307, 5 home runs. Even reigning MVP, Jose Altuve struggled in May as his batting average dropped below .310 briefly before he had a record setting stretch of 10 hits in 10 at-bats raising his average back to the .330s. Altuve, (.338) and Stassi are the only two Astros hitting over .300. George Springer (11 HR) and Yuli Gurriel are batting in the .280s but the rest of the Astro batters are in the mid to low .200s. Springer had a game in May with 6 hits in 6 at-bats. Carlos Correa batted .188 in May, lowering his average to .261 for the season.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Astros have clearly established themselves as the three strongest MLB teams in the first one third of the season. This is not likely to change. The Astros pitching may not remain as strong as it has been for the rest of the season, but it should still be the best. The hitting is expected to improve in the summer months and this combination should be enough to hold off Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels to win the AL West Division.

Bill Gilbert

6/4/2018.

 

Addendum:

Astros Starting Pitcher Stats

Through June 4, 2018

Courtesy of Baseball Reference.Com

2018 Astro Starters G GS W L ERA IP ER H HR BB SO
Justin Verlander 13 13 7 2 1.24 87.1 12 46 5 17 104
Gerrit Cole 12 12 6 1 2.20 81.2 20 48 9 20 116
Charlie Morton 12 12 7 1 2.84 73.0 23 56 11 23 92
Lance McCullers, Jr. 12 12 7 3 3.89 69.1 30 54 6 27 72
Dallas Keuchel 12 12 3 7 3.65 74.0 30 70 9 21 60

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

Good Pitching and Club Spirit Won for Buffs

May 6, 2018

(This article was produced by Associated Press nearly 70 years ago. Here’s how it appeared in the Corpus Christi Times, on Page 19, on September 25, 1947, the day following the last Texas League Playoff game for the Houston Buffs on their way to the Texas League pennant and in readiness for yet another victory over Mobile for the Dixie Series Championship.)

____________________

EPSON MFP image

Johnny Keane ~ Field Manager ~ 1947 Houston Buffs

Good Pitching and Club Spirit Won for Buffs

Houston, Sept. 25 (AP) — In the words of Johnny Keane: “I’ve never seen anything like this ball club.”

He was speaking of his Houston Buffaloes who last night defeated the defending champion Dallas Rebels, 1-0, to take the 1947 Texas League pennant and the right to represent the circuit in the Dixie Series, opening here Friday night, with Mobile’s Bears, the champions of the Southern Association.

The Buffs have had Keane, fans, and sports writers guessing all season. for, despite a noticeable absence of heavy hitters, a siege of injuries and only three “frontline” hurlers, they monopolized first place throughout most of the league’s regular schedule, defeated Tulsa four straight in the first round of of the playoff, and overcame terrific odds in the Dallas round.

But repeated analysis had indicated two things: The Buffs hit when hits count and they are firm believers in the old adage that the game is not over until the last out is recorded.

The first point is illustrated with Houston’s ranking fifth during most of the season in club batting but first in runs batted in.

And Tuesday night’s game at Dallas is proof of the second point, for it was then the Buffs, trailing by six runs and held hitless for six innings, broke loose for eight runs and 11 hits in the last three innings to take an 8-6 decision that placed them in the driver’s seat in the Rebel Series.

Only two of Keane’s crew (Hal Epps and Johnny Hernandez) finished above .300 in batting but every man in the lineup has been at one time or another a hero by knocking in winning runs.

Clarence Beers, who began his baseball career as a catcher, is the mainstay of the pitching staff, having recorded his 28th victory as against eight defeats. The only other steady winner is knuckleballer Al Papai, who finished with a 23-11 record.

The third hurler is Jack Creel (15-11), who, nursing an arm ailment, has his on and off nights.

As relief men, Keane has two right handers, Roman Brunswick (12-8) and Charlie Sproull (6-5) and two southpaws, Pete Mazar (5-6) and veteran Herb Moore (5-2).

Houston’s starting lineup, with final batting averages for the regular season, normally includes:

Solly Hemus (.277) at second, Billy Costa (.232) at short, Eddie Knoblauch (.275) at left, Johnny Hernandez (.301) at first base, Hal Epps (.302) at center, Vaughn Hazen (.280) or Stan Benjamin (.280) at right, Tommy Glaviano (.245) at third, and Gerald Burmeister (.210) catching.

The all-around utility man who has done everything except catch and pitch is Jack Angle (.251), while the reserve catchers are Doc Greene (.217) and Joe Niedson (.212).

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TPPE Note: Note some of the stats, especially for pitchers, are slightly at variance from the data that Baseball Reference.Com now carries for the t947 Houston Buffs.. This appears to be because the data reported in this article included playoff game data with regular season data. That may explain why Buffs pitcher Clarence Beers is credited here with 28 season wins against 8 defeats – and BBREF.com records Beers with three less wins and a 25-8 record at Houston in 1947. Further study of the discrepancy is needed.

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Gilbert: Pitching Carries Astros in April

May 3, 2018

SABR Analyst and Pecan Park Eagle Contributor Bill Gilbert sums up the 2017 AL Champion Astros Repeat Run through the early part of  2018.

Pitching Carries Astros in April

By Bill Gilbert

The Houston Astros compiled a won-loss record of 20-10 in April to lead the American League West Division by 2 1/2 games over the Seattle Mariners and 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels.  The starting pitching was superb. The five pitchers in the rotation each started 6 games and they collectively recorded an ERA of 2.44, by far the best in the major leagues. Three pitchers with ERA’s under 2.00 led the way, Justin Verlander (1.36), Charlie Morton (1.72) and Gerrit Cole (1.73). Cole set a team strikeout record for April with 61. The bullpen also performed well with an ERA of 2.76. Most encouraging was the rebound of closer, Brian Giles, after a poor World Series. In April, Giles converted all three save opportunities and allowed a total of only two runs in his eleven games.

The Houston offense started slowly but by the end of the month the team ranked well above the major league average in most offensive categories.   In 2017, the Astros averaged scoring 5.53 runs per game. In April 2018, they averaged 4.97 compared to the MLB average o 4.46. Six teams averaged over 5 runs per game in April led by the New York Yankees at 5.86.

Jose Altuve batted .347 and Carlos Correa hit .330 in April but the rest of the team hit in the low to mid .200’s. George Springer and Josh Reddick each hit 6 home runs.

April was the first month in the history of major league baseball when strikeouts (6,656 ) outnumbered hits (6,360). This is a continuation of a trend that may not be good for baseball in the long run. Astros pitchers were a major factor in this imbalance by striking out 316 opposing batters while allowing only 196 hits.

The New York Yankees bring their 9-game winning streak to Houston to open the month of May for a four game series with the Astros. matching the best hitting team in baseball with the best pitching team. It could happen again in the post-season.

As expected, teams in the AL West have improved, especially the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, but the Astros should prevail barring major injuries.

Bill Gilbert

5/2/2018

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle