Houston Astros 2013 season in review


Now that the 2013 Astros season is in the books and we’ve had a few days to recover from the 6-month long nightmare that ended with 15 straight losses, let’s take a look back at some of the numbers.

In their first year in the American League, the Astros were simply overmatched. That became more and more obvious as the season progressed and the front office continued the massive rebuild by trading away experienced players in exchange for prospects. A  total of 15 players made their big league debut this season in an Astros uniform. On the bright side, starting pitchers Jarred Cosart and Brett Oberholtzer showed plenty of promise.

Opening Night may have been the high point for the Astros. A big win over the Rangers in front of a National TV audience was a great way to get things started. But the fun quickly turned into horror as the Astros were almost no-hit by Yu Darvish in the second game of the season. That was a sign of things to come — and it was pretty much downhill from that point.

The Astros were able to win only 10 of their first 40 games. The early season struggles can be attributed to a pitching staff that was allowing more than six runs per game. Starting pitchers Philip Humber, Lucas Harrell, Brad Peacock, and Erik Bedard would all eventually be sent to the bullpen or the minor leagues to work out their problems. Fortunately, both Bedard and Peacock were able to bounce back and have productive seasons. The same cannot be said for Harrell and Humber.

The bullpen was also a mess. After continuing to stick with guys like Wesley Wright, Hector Ambriz, and Travis Blackley for the bulk of the season, the decision to go with a youth movement was finally made — albeit too late. When closer Jose Veras was dealt to Detroit at the trade deadline, rookies Chia-Jen Lo, Kevin Chapman, and Josh Zeid were all brought up. The trio of first-time big leaguers teamed up to help give the Astros bullpen a much needed boost down the stretch. A September bullpen ERA of 3.52 was a tremendous improvement over the 5.02 figure posted in the first half of the season.

The Astros offense ranked last in the league in several categories, including OBP (.299) and slugging (.375). Just making contact was difficult for most of the squad as the Astros set a new MLB record by striking out 1535 times. Chris Carter‘s 212 K’s established a new club record, but he also led the team with 29 homers and 82 RBIs. J.D. Martinez and Brett Wallace both had disappointing seasons while Matt Dominguez was a pleasant surprise.

Defense and baserunning were also a problem. The Astros led the league in errors, committing 14 more than the second worst team. They were also caught stealing 61 times, which was 15 more than anyone else.

Those are some ugly numbers across the board — and it all adds up to a franchise record 111 losses. A couple of coaches lost their jobs earlier this week and there will be more changes coming up during what promises to be a busy offseason. Stay tuned — as in the coming weeks and months we will be predicting who’s in, who’s out, and who’s ready to step up.