So, I was out in Seaworld this weekend with a trio of adorable little boys and missed a couple of exciting Astros’ games. I checked the box score and noticed Jordan Schafer had cooled a bit from a red hot start. The critcal mistake I made was not really looking closely enough at his stats. I’ll admit to have finally converted to the thinking that while batting average is nice, on base percentage is huge. Bottom line is to get on base any way you can and not just with hits. Considering my new found faith, Schafer has cooled but is still getting on base at an 0ver .400 clip. For a leadoff man, or any hitter really, that’s great. Coming into the season, that was the one big question on Jordan, could Schafer get on base enough to use his speed to be an effective everyday player? So far, he is making sure everyone sees he sure can be that guy.
Jordan has a ton of speed, everyone can see that with his centerfield play, but the issue, like I mentioned above, is his ablity to consistently put that speed into play. Can he get on base enough to be successful, so far, he has and has made a number of things happen on the base paths. He’s done so much on the base path that I’ve nicknamed him Havoc because something bad usually happens for the Stros’ opponents. Nine games into the season, Jordan has swiped five bases and has consistently looked to take an extra base when the oppurtunity has been there. Understanding how the Astros will produce their runs makes Jordan extra important and does put some pressure on him. Being able to steal bases and go 1st to 3rd is what will keep Houston in a ton of games that otherwise they might have zero chance in, which is where Schafer comes into play.
So, if Jordan’s average isn’t that great but his on base percentage is, how has he done it? Easy answer is walks, Jordan has walked nine times in nine games this season. You don’t need to be a math major to know what that translates to over 162 games. Realistically he probably won’t keep up that pace but if he can consistently get on base using the walks, it could make a fairly decent average not effect his on base game too much. He just needs to get on base, it doesn’t matter if he gets hits or walks. It’s also pretty obvious that he has tried to see a lot more pitches during his ABs, which is pretty big in tiring out a starting pitcher and letting his team see what the pitcher might have on that given night. Schafer’s successful on base approach has also resulted in 8 runs scored in 9 games, that’s great to see out of the clubs’ leadoff guy.
So, it’s pretty obvious Schafer seems to understand his role perfectly. In Atlanta, he was their next great prospect but in Houston, it’ll be interesting to see how Jeff Luhnow views him and treats him as the season continues. The important thing, for now, is for Jordan to keep walking, steal bases, score runs and a little spike in his batting average so he can continue his transformation into a great leadoff hitter.